Is Jhoan Duran's Walkout Entrance Affecting Hitters' Vision?

Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Jhoan Duran is a 6’5” flamethrowing closer who has averaged over 100 mph on his four-seamer every year since his debut in 2022. His splitter/sinker hybrid, or “splinker,” moves like a splitter but with sinker-like velocity. Duran’s elite stuff has translated on the mound. He has a career 2.09 ERA, with the peripheral stats to match. He has a career 25.5 K-BB% and 2.87 FIP, 121 MLBPitchProfiler Stuff+ in 2024. He’s one of (if not) the best closers in baseball.

Naturally, Duran also has one of the best walkout entrances.

As many MLB teams do, the Twins announce Duran’s entrance into a game with a display of lights and sounds. Starting with a series of bells made famous by WWE’s The Undertaker, Duran jogs onto the field with scoreboards lit with fire and phone flashlights beaming.

Duran helped devise a routine that excites the crowd.

Entrances like Duran’s aren’t new. Minnesota has been doing it for decades, starting with Hall of Famer Eddie Guardado. Opposing hitters haven’t complained about them. However, it might be worth investigating if entrances like Duran’s affect hitters’ vision.

It’s hard enough to face Duran and his otherworldly activities. However, the way flashing lights and periods of darkness interact with the human eye could make things even more challenging.

Vision is complicated. The cornea, pupil, retina, and other structures help a hitter see an incoming baseball.

The retina is made up of cones and rods and is incredibly important. Cones and rods do different things. As outlined by the Rochester Institute of Technology, cones are responsible for seeing color and detail (high spatial acuity). On the other hand, rods specialize in fleshing out peripheral vision and are sensitive to motion. They don’t see no color, but they’re mostly on a grayscale.

Without cones, a hitter couldn’t focus on a baseball on its way to home plate. Rods aren’t useless, but “keeping [your] eye” on the ball is really about cones. Cones make it possible to see a white ball against the dark batter’s eye.

When there’s a sudden shift in lighting, such as when Target Field goes from brightly lit to almost complete darkness for Duran’s entrance, people’s eyes must adjust.

While it takes humans up to 30 minutes to completely adjust to darkness after exposure to light, we can break this process into a few different steps. When the bells sound, and Duran begins his entrance, the hitter’s pupils dilate to let in more light.

After that, the cones and rods begin the adjustment process. Cones reach their highest level of sensitivity after about 10 minutes and become fully adapted in 10 minutes. The rods continue to adjust for another 20 minutes.

Duran’s entrance starts with five seconds of darkness. Pupil dilation isn’t instantaneous, so the hitter will adjust during this time.

The fiery landscape of the scoreboards pulsates, though not quickly. Strobe lights create immense strain on the eyes. However, given that Target Field’s lights turn on and off every few seconds, hitters have no trouble adjusting.

Of course, their vision during this state of pulsating lighting will make it difficult to see. However, once the lights return for good and Duran warms up on the mound, the hitter’s pupils will have to adjust again. Even if the hitter was in darkness for the extent of the entrance, light adaptation (dark to light) happens far quicker than dark adaptation.

Just as folks were told not to look at the recent solar eclipse, hitters can adjust to the lights coming back on in short order. Staring at a bright light during the entrance could result in a spot in the hitter’s vision, but hitters can probably avoid that.

Although a hitter’s vision will quickly recover, it may take a few minutes for it to stabilize completely. Thankfully for them, Duran will still need to warm up on the mound. By then, their eyes should be perfectly adjusted.

Just as they always have been, closer entrances don’t pose problems for the game. Duran’s unique entry can rev up Target Field without issue.

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