Graph of the Day: Knuckleballers

Like many sabermetricians, I have an unhealthy affection for the knuckleball and the pitchers that throw them.

Maybe it's because of the way the ball dances toward the plate, or maybe it's because they don't throw much harder than your average Little Leaguer. 

Whatever the reason, I think it's fair to say there just haven't been enough knuckleballers in the big leagues.

Here's a look at how the most prominent knuckleballers of the Retrosheet era compare.  We're only looking at years when the pitcher actually threw a knuckleball (so Joe Niekro is 1971 and beyond, for example).  Data is from Sean's Pitching WAR database and the knuckleball identification is from Rob Neyer by way of http://www.oddball-mall.com/knuckleball/list.htm.

Knuckleballers_12972_image001_medium

Phil Niekro is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. I'm surprised that Wilhelm doesn't fare better - although I shouldn't be. He spent so much time in relief that it's almost unfair to compare him to the group.

I didn't remember Tom Candiotti as being that good but he put up six All-Star caliber seasons.  And Wakefield keeps plugging along, but he's only clearly better than Joe Niekro on this list.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker