An interview with the Minor League Free Agent, Mickey Jannis, the only knuckleballer in the Major Leagues in 2021.
Overview of a Knuckleball
A knuckleball is a pitch thrown with little to no spin that can move unpredictably. Due to its low spin rate and what researchers call an aerodynamic phenomenon of “unsteady lift forces”—likely created by the seams—the ball will “dance” or “zig-zag” as it travels towards the plate.
A knuckleball or knuckler is a baseball pitch thrown to minimize the spin of the ball in flight, causing an erratic, unpredictable motion. The air flow over a seam of the ball causes the ball to change from laminar to turbulent flow.
In 2012, Dickey became the only knuckleballer to have won the Cy Young Award. Phil Niekro is the only knuckleball pitcher to win 300 games.Notable knuckleballers.
|Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame|
|•||Cy Young Award winner|
What is an Uncle Charlie in baseball? Uncle Charlie is another name for a curveball. Although it can be used to describe any curveball, it is usually reserved for a pitcher that has a premium curveball. The origin of the term Uncle Charlie is unknown.
Each baseball player has their own specialties. However, the two pitches that stand out to be the hardest to hit are the splitter and the slider. This conclusion is backed by research that has been done to detect the whiff rate for various pitches.
Dickey’s 102-mph knuckleball
R.A. Dickey is already known for throwing a very hard knuckleball, tossing his dancing, moving, grooving pitch up in the high 70s, occasionally even getting it into the low 80s, compared to the other knucklers who throw the pitch in the 60s.
No, it really shouldn’t. However, this is only true if you throw it correctly meaning that your arm motions do not change. The only way that I’ve heard you could hurt yourself throwing the knuckleball is by shot-putting the ball.
The goal of a knuckleball is to eliminate almost all of the spin on the baseball, causing it to flutter unpredictably on its way to the plate. Although knuckleballs come to the plate at a much lower velocity than the average pitch, they can be among the hardest pitches to hit because they move so erratically.
Toad Ramsey invented the knuckleball.
The most famous knuckleballer of all, Niekro is a Hall of Famer and the only knuckleball pitcher who’s a member of baseball’s historic 300-win and 3,000-strikeout clubs.
A breaking ball (aka breaking pitch) is a pitch in which the pitcher snaps or breaks his wrist to give the ball spin and movement. This includes the curveball, slider, and slurve, but not the various kinds of fastball and change-up or trick pitches like the knuckleball.
What is the Average Speed of a Knuckleball Pitch? The flutter pitch (knuckler) typically clocks in around 55 MPH, give or take.
No player is permitted to intentionally damage, deface or discolor the baseball by rubbing it with any type of foreign item or substance, including dirt or saliva. Failure to follow this rule will result in an ejection and an automatic 10-game suspension.
The screwball’s decline can be attributed partly to the emergence of other deceptive off-speed pitches: the circle change, the cutter, the split-finger. (Though not one of these is a serviceable replacement for the screwball, which enables pitchers to throw a ball that breaks away from opposite-handed hitters.)
According to data from FanGraphs, nine players threw knuckleballs in the majors last year. Eight of those were position players looking to eat innings on an emergency basis. The only true pitcher in the bunch, Baltimore’s Mickey Jannis, remains unsigned as the 2022 season begins.
It’s called cheese because cheese is easy to slice through. Cheese is a fastball that is easy to hit.
When a pitcher crowds a batter with a pitch, he is often said to be in the hitter’s “kitchen”. This expression is as old as baseball itself. If a batter got jammed and broke his bat, older players used to say, “He got in his kitchen and broke a few dishes.” Or, “He rattled a few pots-n-pans in Pujols’ kitchen.”
In 1869, the newspaper described Phonney Martin as an “extremely hard pitcher to hit for the ball never comes in a straight line, but in a tantalizing curve.”
Jhoan Duran is first in MLB history to throw 100 mph off-speed pitch.
Pitches right down the middle/over the inner-third generate the most homers per swing. Pitches low in the zone tend to generate more HR compared to high or outside. But that’s intuitive — you could probably picture that one without even seeing it.
He and his brother, Joe Niekro, who was born in 1944 and spent 22 years in the majors (‘67-88) with eight teams, combined for more wins (539) than any other brotherly combination. As you’d guess from those numbers, Niekro’s knuckler baffled hitters, making even All-Stars look foolish. Phil Niekro, Knuckleball.
James Andrews (renowned orthopaedic surgeon and medical director for the Andrews Institute) recommends that youth pitchers refrain from throwing curveballs until they have mastered the fastball and change-up and are at least 14 years old4.