Atlanta Braves’ Dan Uggla Has Vision Issues


June 11, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman

Dan Uggla

(26) before his at bat during the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. The Padres won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently, Dan Uggla has been having vision issues.

This story seemingly came out of nowhere, and I was a bit surprised when I first read the tweets about it. I believe the AJC had the story first, but because of their pay wall, I couldn’t check out there article. You can find it here if you have a subscription.

Fortunately, Mark Bowman and Eric Single don’t have a paywall on their article that I linked to above. Here is a bit of what they say about the issue:

"When Dan Uggla was told during Spring Training that his vision was being blurred by an astigmatism, he ditched the contact lenses he was given after just a couple days. But after spending the first half of this season ducking out of the way of many curveballs and looking at far too many strikes, he opted to get assistance.After undergoing a multitude of tests on Thursday afternoon, Uggla was fitted with another set of contact lenses that he hopes will be more comfortable than the set he tried in March. If this does not work, the second baseman might undergo LASIK surgery.“I just know that I need LASIK or contacts,” Uggla said. “So we’re going to go with contacts first. They felt great all day, and I’m excited about it. I’m excited about hopefully being able to see the ball better.”Uggla sat out of Thursday’s 4-3 loss the Mets. But he believes he will be ready to play when the Braves open a three-game set in Milwaukee on Friday.“I’ve always thought I’ve had pretty good eyes, and I’ve always had, up until probably late last year,” Uggla said. “But it’s nothing that’s not fixable. So it’s better to identify the problem now and get it solved now.”"

The story goes on to talk about Uggla’s struggles so far this season including the fact that he is currently on pace to strike out over 200 times, which would break the franchise record for K’s in a season–a record that he currently holds, by the way.

Yes, hopefully Uggla actually does have some vision issues, because like he said, it is fixable and it will be get to get the problem solved as soon as possible. Because Uggla’s K-rate has jumped from 26.7% last year to 34.1% year and that is a pretty huge leap. If he comes back from this eye situation and manages to drop that rate, we could at least put some of the blame on the eyes.

However, if his eyes aren’t the real problem and Dan Uggla is simply getting worse at a much quicker rate than we expected… we are going to have a long two and a half more years at second base. I feel like the new contacts and/or LASIK surgery will at least somewhat improve his game because like I mentioned before, the jump in his K rate is just ridiculous.

After taking a quick look at his plate discipline numbers it seems more apparent the his eyes could be the real problem. He has a career Z-Swing % of 66.1% and this year it is down to 61%. He is also making much less contact than he usually does with his Contact % and Z-Contact % both dropping by around six points. His career Contact % is 72.4% compared to 63.8% this year and his career Z-Contact % is 81.1% compared to 72.9 % this year.

Now, there are a few things to note before we run away and blame all of his struggles on the eyes.

One, we should be expecting Dan Uggla to be slowly declining at this point in his career especially given his previous two seasons with Atlanta. Secondly, we are looking at a pretty small sample size relative to his career rates and we could just be hoping that the eyes are what is causing everything. He could just be losing a step as he ages and nothing more.

We will have to wait and see how he does for a while after he gets he vision issue sorted away. Once we can clearly see him–pun definitely intended–for a month or two we can start to decide whether Uggla has a chance to cut down on his huge strikeout rate or not.

In the meantime, we can watch what newly made utility man, Tyler Pastornicky is capable of.