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(Oddball Sports)   Mets' R.A. Dickey could become the first Triple Crown of Pitching winner to never throw a pitch above 80 mph   (oddballsportsblog.com) divider line 91
    More: Cool, R.A. Dickey, Dickey, Mets, Rare Ltd., knuckleball pitch, Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield, Justin Verlander  
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1354 clicks; posted to Sports » on 21 Jun 2012 at 5:40 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-06-21 05:38:49 AM  
So cool! Like a more effective Tim Wakefield, and Wakefield had some good seasons.

Knuckleballers also set up teams for the next pitcher because they are so befuddling.
 
2012-06-21 05:58:37 AM  
If he took the right "supplements", he could get his pitch speed up.
 
2012-06-21 06:47:03 AM  
Don't worry, it won't happen. The mets will start sucking after the all-star break and Dickey will have an era in the 5's by the end of the season.
 
2012-06-21 06:58:49 AM  
Not true - he routinely throws a knuckler above 80, which is an insanely impossible pitch to hit. He has the fast ball knuckler and the change up knuckler and he throws them for strikes. He had the Nationals all twisted up in their panties the other day. Also, it's hilarious to watch Strasburg make top major league hitters look like little leaguers who are seeing their first curve ball. Bailing out afraid to get hit on a ball that curves right over the center of the plate. I had a kid in the 15 year old league who could throw a really fast knuckler - it was almost uncatchable it broke so fast and so unpredictably. It's easily the hardest pitch to learn how to throw.
 
2012-06-21 07:03:04 AM  
Pretty sure he has thrown the occasional 80+ knuckleball. And that his fastball gets above 80 as well. Overall point still stands, just nitpicking.
 
2012-06-21 07:11:10 AM  
His fastball is in the 80-86 mph range.
 
2012-06-21 08:04:17 AM  

MartinD-35: Not true - he routinely throws a knuckler above 80, which is an insanely impossible pitch to hit. He has the fast ball knuckler and the change up knuckler and he throws them for strikes. He had the Nationals all twisted up in their panties the other day. Also, it's hilarious to watch Strasburg make top major league hitters look like little leaguers who are seeing their first curve ball. Bailing out afraid to get hit on a ball that curves right over the center of the plate. I had a kid in the 15 year old league who could throw a really fast knuckler - it was almost uncatchable it broke so fast and so unpredictably. It's easily the hardest pitch to learn how to throw.


Not to mention to catch. "The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling then pick it up" -- Bob Uecker.
 
2012-06-21 08:08:20 AM  

SoxSweepAgain: Knuckleballers also set up teams for the next pitcher because they are so befuddling.


Frank Francisco would make every ninth inning an adventure even if he was following a Dickey-Seaver.Gooden-Koosman-Ryan Voltron.
 
2012-06-21 08:13:24 AM  
 
2012-06-21 08:24:57 AM  
This guy has a perfecto in him. Just you watch.
 
2012-06-21 08:30:15 AM  
Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.
 
2012-06-21 08:38:13 AM  

MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.


Doubtful. The way Dickey throws he's not likely to get fatigued, and it's not really like you can "figure out" a knuckleball that changes speeds.
 
2012-06-21 08:55:03 AM  
Your blog still sucks.
 
2012-06-21 08:59:00 AM  

cameroncrazy1984: MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.

Doubtful. The way Dickey throws he's not likely to get fatigued, and it's not really like you can "figure out" a knuckleball that changes speeds.


So a guy who had 2 shutouts in 10 season and then 2 shutouts in a half of a season... and you think the other 10 seasons is the aberration?
 
2012-06-21 09:24:21 AM  

MugzyBrown: cameroncrazy1984: MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.

Doubtful. The way Dickey throws he's not likely to get fatigued, and it's not really like you can "figure out" a knuckleball that changes speeds.

So a guy who had 2 shutouts in 10 season and then 2 shutouts in a half of a season... and you think the other 10 seasons is the aberration?


He didn't really start working on his knuckleball in earnest until 2006 I think.
 
2012-06-21 09:31:48 AM  

HotWingConspiracy: He didn't really start working on his knuckleball in earnest until 2006 I think.


He didn't even THROW a knuckleball until 2006. And only in 2012 did he figure out how to locate and change speeds on it. He was more Tim Wakefield the last two seasons. This season he's throwing an entirely different style of knuckler.
 
2012-06-21 09:32:35 AM  

cameroncrazy1984: This season he's throwing an entirely different style of knuckler.


An entirely different style of knucker all together
 
2012-06-21 09:37:41 AM  

MugzyBrown: cameroncrazy1984: This season he's throwing an entirely different style of knuckler.

An entirely different style of knucker all together


Dammit. Opportunity missed!
 
2012-06-21 09:46:39 AM  
So is it more the knuckleball is so mind-boggling to master or no one really dedicates themself to it? Seems like you could put together a nice career tossing knuckleballs; pitch late into your career, avoid multiple surgeries - seems like the place-kicking of baseball.
 
2012-06-21 10:07:23 AM  

PunchDrunkPanda: So is it more the knuckleball is so mind-boggling to master or no one really dedicates themself to it? Seems like you could put together a nice career tossing knuckleballs; pitch late into your career, avoid multiple surgeries - seems like the place-kicking of baseball.


My (admittedly limited) understanding was that no one ever really masters the knuckleball. Some people can convince it to behave for longer periods than others, but even for those people, sometimes the knuckleball will hang over the plate like it's on a T-ball stand just so the pitcher doesn't get too comfortable. It's the baseball version of the scorpion and the hare parable.
 
2012-06-21 10:44:09 AM  

PunchDrunkPanda: So is it more the knuckleball is so mind-boggling to master or no one really dedicates themself to it? Seems like you could put together a nice career tossing knuckleballs; pitch late into your career, avoid multiple surgeries - seems like the place-kicking of baseball.


Good luck with that. There's lots of pitchers who throw the cutter, but only one Mariano Rivera cutter - and it's a pitch he discovered by accident. He freely shows people how to throw it, but they can't.

It just took Dickey longer to make his discovery.
 
2012-06-21 10:48:39 AM  

Gulper Eel: SoxSweepAgain: Knuckleballers also set up teams for the next pitcher because they are so befuddling.

Frank Francisco would make every ninth inning an adventure even if he was following a Dickey-Seaver.Gooden-Koosman-Ryan Voltron.


The Mets have Collins and Alderson, two of the more progressive people in baseball, and they still fark around with a goddamn set closer that cost three times as much as any other reliever not named "closer." I am so sick of this position.
 
2012-06-21 10:51:41 AM  
R.A. Dickey threads compose 2/3 of the Fark sports tab.
 
2012-06-21 10:52:17 AM  

PunchDrunkPanda: So is it more the knuckleball is so mind-boggling to master or no one really dedicates themself to it? Seems like you could put together a nice career tossing knuckleballs; pitch late into your career, avoid multiple surgeries - seems like the place-kicking of baseball.


Part of the problem, in addition to the "almost impossible to master" thing, is that there are a lot of people who dislike knuckleballers for various reasons. It's nowhere near as "sexy" as some flame-thrower who can hit 95+, so it doesn't get noticed as much by scouts; the manager never knows if the guy is going to go 7 or 8 innings with 2 runs allowed, or 2 innings with 7 or 8 runs allowed (generally, bad knuckleballs are either nowhere near the strike zone, or end up in the outfield seats - Dickey is actually way low of the knuckleball norm for both walks and extra-base hits); and catchers have to be ready to move around and catch/block pitches that can go anywhere.

There are actually a large percentage of coaches/managers in high school and junior leagues which more or less ban knuckleballs from being thrown from their pitchers. They don't want to see it, they don't want to deal with it, they think it's a "garbage" pitch and has no place on the field.
 
2012-06-21 10:56:04 AM  

Alkoholiker: R.A. Dickey threads compose 2/3 of the Fark sports tab.


I'm OK with this.

/even straight dudes love Dickey
 
2012-06-21 11:04:09 AM  

Gulper Eel: It just took Dickey longer to make his discovery.


After retirement, he and Wakefield should open an academy in remote Mongolia and offer to train knuckleballers like Pai Mei.
 
2012-06-21 11:13:46 AM  
Oh wait.. he he he .. Dickey
 
2012-06-21 11:30:21 AM  

PunchDrunkPanda: So is it more the knuckleball is so mind-boggling to master or no one really dedicates themself to it? Seems like you could put together a nice career tossing knuckleballs; pitch late into your career, avoid multiple surgeries - seems like the place-kicking of baseball.


The article also mentions that he throws an 80ish mph fastball, a slightly slower changeup, and an 80ish mph slider in addition to the 80ish mph knuckleball. Most MLB pitchers can throw 2 pitches consistently, but he has figured out how to throw 4 different pitches with different movement at almost the same speed. That is why he is effective. If he is having trouble with one or two of his pitches, he just switches it up instantly and batters can't really adjust.

//Greg Maddux lived throwing low 90s to sub-90s because he could purposely hit the left wing off a fly at 60ft. 6in. It's all about deception and location. Speed can let you get away with poor location, but only for so long.

///Greg Maddux hitting the left wing off a fly at 60ft. 6in.
 
2012-06-21 11:33:12 AM  
Quick story told to me by a friend last month.

When Mets catcher Mike Nickeas made the final out of an inning, Rob Johnson came out to warm up Dickey for the next inning. A couple of innings later, Nickeas again made the final out of the inning and Johnson came out to warm up the pitcher; now Bobby Parnell, he of the 100 mph fastball.

The point? Supposedly, Johnson came out with nothing more than a glove for Parnell but had donned full battle armor to catch the knuckleball.
 
2012-06-21 11:58:09 AM  

MugzyBrown: cameroncrazy1984: MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.

Doubtful. The way Dickey throws he's not likely to get fatigued, and it's not really like you can "figure out" a knuckleball that changes speeds.

So a guy who had 2 shutouts in 10 season and then 2 shutouts in a half of a season... and you think the other 10 seasons is the aberration?


His K rate is up, his walk rate is down and his HR rate is ok. He does have an unsustainable .240 BABIP but it is looking like a very good year. I don't expect a pitcher to get better at 38 years of age, but it would be fun to see happen. Cheering for him, even if he is a met.
 
2012-06-21 12:11:17 PM  

Joe_diGriz: There are actually a large percentage of coaches/managers in high school and junior leagues which more or less ban knuckleballs from being thrown from their pitchers. They don't want to see it, they don't want to deal with it, they think it's a "garbage" pitch and has no place on the field.


That's what they say. Here are the real problems:
1) It's a very difficult pitch to control, and most HS coaches are stubborn, oversized ego-heads with no farking idea how to coach a knuckler but are too proud to admit it. It's actually handed down directly like an obscure art -- every modern knuckleball pitcher got tips from the old greats like Niekro or Hough.
2) You need an excellent defensive catcher, and catcher is a difficult position to fill as it is.
3) HS umps also vary in quality as there are a lot more of them than MLB umps. Most of them can't call a knuckleball.

So it undresses your ignorance in public, you can't coach it, your catcher can't catch it, umps can't call it, and it takes years to learn. It's easier for a HS coach to just insult the pitcher's manhood and tell the guy to just get his four-seamer up to 90mph.
 
2012-06-21 12:27:01 PM  

Ima10urin8: His fastball is in the 80-86 mph range.


this. part of the reason dickey has been so successful is that he throws his knuckleball faster than a traditional knuckleball. this lessens the movement somewhat, but keeps the ball in the strike zone more. thus, he's the rare (only?) knuckleballer who can pound the strike zone. that's what is making his season so good. must knucklers walk a metric shiat ton of batters (and runners on base lead to very bad thing when someone connects with your 70 mph lob), dickey doesn't walk that many.
 
2012-06-21 12:33:07 PM  
evilwhiteguy: Don't worry, it won't happen. The mets will start sucking after the all-star break and Dickey will have an era in the 5's by the end of the season.

While I agree with regression as much as the next guy, he did all this last year too, it's just the shiatbox team turned (I think) 15 quality starts in to no decisions or losses.
 
2012-06-21 12:41:30 PM  

Alkoholiker: R.A. Dickey threads compose 2/3 of the Fark sports tab.


I've never even heard of this guy until this thread. Did he just beat your team or something?

/cry harder dude.
 
2012-06-21 12:42:28 PM  
He has really buoyed my fantasy team's pitching numbers since I picked him up, so I thank him for that.
 
2012-06-21 12:44:57 PM  

Alkoholiker: R.A. Dickey threads compose 2/3 of the Fark sports tab.


I've been aware of who he is for a few seasons now, but even still when I hear his name I first assume it's the name of a southwestern chain store for automotive parts or something. R.A Dickey is just a manly name. Enjoy it. Embrace it.
 
2012-06-21 12:54:21 PM  

MugzyBrown: cameroncrazy1984: MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.

Doubtful. The way Dickey throws he's not likely to get fatigued, and it's not really like you can "figure out" a knuckleball that changes speeds.

So a guy who had 2 shutouts in 10 season and then 2 shutouts in a half of a season... and you think the other 10 seasons is the aberration?


He can't possibly keep THIS up. But over the last two seasons, he's had an era of about 3.00. If he pitches at that level for the rest of the season, he's going to wind up with amazing numbers.
 
2012-06-21 01:05:42 PM  

You're the jerk... jerk: His K rate is up, his walk rate is down and his HR rate is ok. He does have an unsustainable .240 BABIP but it is looking like a very good year. I don't expect a pitcher to get better at 38 years of age, but it would be fun to see happen. Cheering for him, even if he is a met.


BABIP is a bit difficult with knucklers. It's harder to say that a .240 is unsustainable.

Charlie's Hough's CAREER BABIP was .250, and had a BABIP under .250 (and as low as .225) every season from '85 to '92. The average BABIP over that span was roughly .280.

Wakefield played in a high average BABIP environment (Fenway's wall screwed things up too), yet had a career mark of .274. He never had a BABIP of .300...yet the average BABIP at that time was roughly .295

The Niekros both had BABIPs of .270. They're actually the worst example of this, as the average BABIP in that era was, again, .280 or so.

Finally, Hoyt Wilhelm played in a time with an average BABIP of .270 or so. So, of course, he came up with a career mark of .245. This includes two straight years with BABIPs under .200

Voros McCrackin's original DIPS work came up with a "kuckleball exception", mostly because of these guys.

Here's a crazy graph of what I just said, for people who can't read good and wanna learn to do other stuff good too:

i1154.photobucket.com

MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.


I'd keep my eye on Dempster, actually. Though his current 'injury' will certainly be blamed when it does happen
 
2012-06-21 01:36:33 PM  

DeWayne Mann: You're the jerk... jerk: His K rate is up, his walk rate is down and his HR rate is ok. He does have an unsustainable .240 BABIP but it is looking like a very good year. I don't expect a pitcher to get better at 38 years of age, but it would be fun to see happen. Cheering for him, even if he is a met.

BABIP is a bit difficult with knucklers. It's harder to say that a .240 is unsustainable.

Charlie's Hough's CAREER BABIP was .250, and had a BABIP under .250 (and as low as .225) every season from '85 to '92. The average BABIP over that span was roughly .280.

Wakefield played in a high average BABIP environment (Fenway's wall screwed things up too), yet had a career mark of .274. He never had a BABIP of .300...yet the average BABIP at that time was roughly .295

The Niekros both had BABIPs of .270. They're actually the worst example of this, as the average BABIP in that era was, again, .280 or so.

Finally, Hoyt Wilhelm played in a time with an average BABIP of .270 or so. So, of course, he came up with a career mark of .245. This includes two straight years with BABIPs under .200

Voros McCrackin's original DIPS work came up with a "kuckleball exception", mostly because of these guys.

Here's a crazy graph of what I just said, for people who can't read good and wanna learn to do other stuff good too:

[i1154.photobucket.com image 640x379]

MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.

I'd keep my eye on Dempster, actually. Though his current 'injury' will certainly be blamed when it does happen


I was actually basing it on Dickey's past and not the league average. But your point is apt, knuckleballers are weird and strange.
 
2012-06-21 01:38:58 PM  

MugzyBrown: Every year there is a starter in the first half with amazing numbers out of the blue who blows up in the 2nd half.

I have a feeling this is the 2012 guy.


I don't think so, or at least he won't blow up, the Mets will. His W-L percentage may go down but his other pitching numbers will still be great. For example in 2010 he should have won 20 games, but the Mets bullpen blew so many game were he left the game with them having the lead and the offense gave him very little run support. As a result he was 11-9 and finished the season with a 2.84 ERA. . Same thing happened in 2011 when he finished with a 3.28 ERA and had an 8-13 record.
 
2012-06-21 01:47:24 PM  

DeWayne Mann: BABIP is a bit difficult with knucklers. It's harder to say that a .240 is unsustainable.


It isn't, but you argue rather convincingly that return to normalcy may not be as dramatic as fans of conventional knuckleballers expect.

It's dangerous to make TOO many comparisons between Dickey and conventional knuckleballers because the hard knuckleball is a different pitch. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure where this is going to go because, let's face it, we don't have much to go on. We have no data on a modern-era guy who relies mainly on a hard knuckleball; the pitch was extinct for decades and even when it was popular it was regarded as just another breaking ball.

That's a disclaimer. As far as BABIP is concerned, though, I think you're right. The similarity is that the knuckleball is the one pitch that isn't "figured out", so batters can't use experience to their advantage. The knuckleball is generally hit in one of two ways -- either it's weakly hit because the batter somehow got a piece of the bat on the thing as it danced, or it goes into low Earth orbit. This is different from, say, a low 2-seamer on a 2-strike count where the batter swings, can't check, and adjusts to send it into a gap because that's the best he can do. So I do believe knuckleballs can fark up BABIP purely because the pitching physics is unique. Its success or failure purely depends on the pitcher and the pitching environment, which should reduce the number of "clean hits" (sharp grounders and line drives into gaps) compared to a conventional repertoire.
 
2012-06-21 01:52:40 PM  

You're the jerk... jerk: I was actually basing it on Dickey's past and not the league average. But your point is apt, knuckleballers are weird and strange.


Well, you shouldn't base it on his past. We have little data on "RA Dickey (knuckleballer)" so it's hard to say what''s unsustainable based solely on that. On the other hand, we have a lot more data on "pitchers." That data says that if RA Dickey wasn't a knuckleballer, a .240 BABIP is unsustainable.

But he is, so we have absolutely no way of knowing at all.
 
2012-06-21 01:54:08 PM  
He threw 26 knucklers over 80 mph in his last start.
 
2012-06-21 02:04:30 PM  

dragonchild: Joe_diGriz: There are actually a large percentage of coaches/managers in high school and junior leagues which more or less ban knuckleballs from being thrown from their pitchers. They don't want to see it, they don't want to deal with it, they think it's a "garbage" pitch and has no place on the field.

That's what they say. Here are the real problems:
1) It's a very difficult pitch to control, and most HS coaches are stubborn, oversized ego-heads with no farking idea how to coach a knuckler but are too proud to admit it. It's actually handed down directly like an obscure art -- every modern knuckleball pitcher got tips from the old greats like Niekro or Hough.
2) You need an excellent defensive catcher, and catcher is a difficult position to fill as it is.
3) HS umps also vary in quality as there are a lot more of them than MLB umps. Most of them can't call a knuckleball.

So it undresses your ignorance in public, you can't coach it, your catcher can't catch it, umps can't call it, and it takes years to learn. It's easier for a HS coach to just insult the pitcher's manhood and tell the guy to just get his four-seamer up to 90mph.


But that's not such a terrible thing, because good knuckleballers largely owe their success to the rarity of it. If the world were awash in knuckleballers and batters experienced them more frequently, they'd all become more hittable. Sort of a game-theory quandary there.
 
2012-06-21 02:09:20 PM  

dragonchild: DeWayne Mann: BABIP is a bit difficult with knucklers. It's harder to say that a .240 is unsustainable.

It isn't, but you argue rather convincingly that return to normalcy may not be as dramatic as fans of conventional knuckleballers expect.


Just because I'm in a graphy mood...

I've selected 5 pitchers who are considered very, very good and had careers at roughly the same times as the knuckleballers I mentioned. Here's that graph and the graph I just posted again:

i1154.photobucket.com
i1154.photobucket.com

I'll let people make their own conclusions.

(Side note on the knuckleball graph: both hough & j.niekro pitched a lot, lot fewer innings than usual for that giant spike in '72. as in, 2.2 for hough and like 40 for niekro.

dragonchild: That's a disclaimer. As far as BABIP is concerned, though, I think you're right. The similarity is that the knuckleball is the one pitch that isn't "figured out", so batters can't use experience to their advantage. The knuckleball is generally hit in one of two ways -- either it's weakly hit because the batter somehow got a piece of the bat on the thing as it danced, or it goes into low Earth orbit. This is different from, say, a low 2-seamer on a 2-strike count where the batter swings, can't check, and adjusts to send it into a gap because that's the best he can do. So I do believe knuckleballs can fark up BABIP purely because the pitching physics is unique. Its success or failure purely depends on the pitcher and the pitching environment, which should reduce the number of "clean hits" (sharp grounders and line drives into gaps) compared to a conventional repertoire.


There's a few theories on why the knuckleball screws up BABIP. One of the most fun ones I've heard is that the batter may (consciously or not) pick up on where the catcher sets up on a standard pitch. But if the catcher has no clue where the pitch is going, as with the knuckler, that's an advantage the batter no longer gets.
 
2012-06-21 02:20:11 PM  

DeWayne Mann: You're the jerk... jerk: I was actually basing it on Dickey's past and not the league average. But your point is apt, knuckleballers are weird and strange.

Well, you shouldn't base it on his past. We have little data on "RA Dickey (knuckleballer)" so it's hard to say what''s unsustainable based solely on that. On the other hand, we have a lot more data on "pitchers." That data says that if RA Dickey wasn't a knuckleballer, a .240 BABIP is unsustainable.

But he is, so we have absolutely no way of knowing at all.


We have 500+ innings of him as a knuckleballer, so it isn't like we have nothing. I would love to see it continue, but I would bet against it.
 
2012-06-21 02:20:13 PM  

SoxSweepAgain: Knuckleballers also set up teams for the next pitcher because they are so befuddling.


This is one of those gems of presumed baseball wisdom that everyone hears over the years, but there's no evidence that it's true. For every team that goes into a slump after seeing a dominant knuckler, there another that looks downright relieved and either hits even better than before or returns to form-- only the slumps are reported and used to support the claim, while the rest are ignored. It's unsubstantiated lore, as far as I've ever seen.

Also, Dickey is pitching incredibly well, but it's June. There's a lot of baseball left to play. Don't let's start handing out aggregate-stat awards just yet, especially given that he's on the Mets, and a late-summer collapse could well be just around the corner, reducing his potential wins.

Sorry, I just hate these articles that start hyping up seasons when the season's not even at the halfway point. Every article about how some batter or another might be the first to bat over .400 since Ted Williams because of a .426 average in April, or the next Bonds because of 15 home runs by 1 May, or whatever, just grates at me.

And Dickey is pitching incredibly well, but last year his knuckleball was still among the worst pitches in baseball-- it was worth -7.4 runs saved, with his 84-mph fastball saving 11.4 runs. Maybe he's really perfected the knuckler, but he's also relying on it more (82.9% per pfx) than ever before (excluding the 3.1 innings in 2006), and even NL batters can make adjustments over the summer. He hasn't thrown a slider or a curveball (according to fangraphs) since 2009, nor a splitter since 2008. His fastballs (4-seam and sinker) this year average out at 82.8, his curveball at 63.0, and his knuckleball at 77.0 mph. That's a bit of a spread, and batters could in theory pick up on the differences in velocity.

The thing is, unlike last year, his knuckleball is now his best pitch; last year, it was still worth swinging at one because it was more hittable. This year, it might be worth laying off one or two in case it gets called a ball and forces him to throw a better pitch (almost 31% of his knuckleballs have been called balls this year). And even this year, with last year's tape still current, 52% of his knuckleballs elicit swings, but only 15% cause whiffs and just over 16% are called strikes. And the knuckleball's speed is more consistent this year than last-- last year, he had two speeds at which he could throw the knuckleball, and this year he throws it mainly in a range centred around the high 70s, with a smattering of slow knucklers clocking in as low as 55, but with no consistent bimodal distribution. Maybe he's only trotting out the slow knuckler when he really needs it (I'll freely admit I haven't watching him very closely this year), but it's still a tendency that batters could learn.

In 2010, when he started pitching in late May, he was considered possibly the best pitcher on the Mets through August. Over his first 126.1 IP, he had an ERA of 2.64, a K/9 of 6.06, a BB/0 of 2.21, and a record of 5-1 in 20 starts. Then in 2011, he wasn't nearly as good. In 2010, he was 6-1 from 19 May through the end of June, then lost 3 straight in July (bookended by no-decision team losses) before regaining . Maybe the humidity and heat were factors; the effects of weather on knuckleballs are still uncertain. In the only game this year he pitched in the rain, though, he gave up 8 runs and was pulled after 4.1 innings.

MAYORBOB: Not to mention to catch. "The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling then pick it up" -- Bob Uecker.


Josh Bard described trying to catch Wakefield's knuckler alternately as trying to catch a butterfly with a waffle iron and boxing with [his] hands tied behind [his] back.
 
2012-06-21 02:33:30 PM  

You're the jerk... jerk: We have 500+ innings of him as a knuckleballer, so it isn't like we have nothing. I would love to see it continue, but I would bet against it.


That's not a lot of data. Let's put it this way: we have 300 IP that says Hellickson is a .237 BABIP pitcher. Feel comfortable about that?

Or, if 300 IP is too few (but 500 is ok), the last 500 IP of Jonathan Sanchez's career have had a .268 BABIP, yet his career is .288.
 
2012-06-21 02:37:12 PM  

xpisblack: the next Bonds because of 15 home runs by 1 May, or whatever, just grates at me.


Are you trying to tell me Chris Shelton isn't going to be in the HOF? Because that would really screw up my retirement plan.
 
2012-06-21 02:54:19 PM  

xpisblack: And Dickey is pitching incredibly well, but last year his knuckleball was still among the worst pitches in baseball-- it was worth -7.4 runs saved, with his 84-mph fastball saving 11.4 runs.


The knuckleball sets up the fastball, which is effective only because hitters are looking for the knuckleball. It's not like Dickey would have been better off throwing more fastballs last year.

This year, it might be worth laying off one or two in case it gets called a ball and forces him to throw a better pitch (almost 31% of his knuckleballs have been called balls this year).

That's not exactly a ton of balls for a pitch that, generally, is unaimable. I say generally because Dickey seems to have figured out how to get the knuckler to break where he wants it to break.

And even this year, with last year's tape still current, 52% of his knuckleballs elicit swings, but only 15% cause whiffs and just over 16% are called strikes

Where are you getting these numbers from, fangraphs? Can't find swing and miss percentages by pitch type (maybe I'm not looking hard enough) but I thought his swing and miss knuckleball percentage was way above that. Perhaps that was percent of swings that miss. Do you have evidence that these stats aren't particularly good or anything like that.

Anyway, let's deal with the part of your post that makes no sense:

In 2010, when he started pitching in late May, he was considered possibly the best pitcher on the Mets through August. Over his first 126.1 IP, he had an ERA of 2.64, a K/9 of 6.06, a BB/0 of 2.21, and a record of 5-1 in 20 starts. Then in 2011, he wasn't nearly as good. In 2010, he was 6-1 from 19 May through the end of June, then lost 3 straight in July (bookended by no-decision team losses) before regaining

A whole bunch of advanced metrics and then we're going with wins? Those three straight losses were 6.2ip 4r (3er), 7ip 1r, 7ip 3r. Not exactly garbage.

And Dickey's 2011 was only barely behind his 2010:

2010: 2.84 era, 1.187 whip, 2.48 k/bb.
2011: 3.28 era, 1.227 whip, 2.48 k/bb.

Very similar h/9, hr/9, k/9, bb/9. Dickey also made six more starts in 2011, which adds some value. The big difference between his seasons was run support and bad luck.

Dickey probably won't keep this up, and probably can't throw the knuckleball as well as he has. But given the knuckleball he is throwing, he isn't getting lucky. If he regresses, it's because he can't keep this pitch up, not because the pitch isn't as good as the results.
 
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