Best knuckleball pitchers in baseball history
Knuckleball is baseball’s most magical field. These pitchers are the best for pitching it.
Thrown without spinning, a knuckleball can move in any direction once it leaves the thrower’s hand. He dances on his way to the plate. It’s unpredictable and beautiful. No one knows where he’s going, let alone the batter. A knuckleball has its own mind, and only a few select pitchers have been able to master it.
Here are the 10 best brass knuckles in MLB history.
1) Phil Niekro (1964-87)
318-274; 3.35 ERA; 3,342K; 5,404 IP
The most famous knuckleball player of all, Niekro is a Hall of Fame member and the only knuckleball pitcher to be a member of historic baseball clubs with 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts. Nicknamed “Knucksie,” Niekro pitched 24 seasons and over 5,000 innings in the major leagues, primarily for the Braves, winning 318 games (16th all-time) and 3,342 strikeouts (11th all-time) with an ERA of 3.35. He’s been a five-time All-Star, led his league in wins twice, and won an ERA title and a strikeout crown. Niekro’s knuckleball allowed him to throw until the age of 48.
2) Hoyt Wilhelm (1952-72)
143-122; 228 VS; 2.52 ERA; 1610K; 2 254 1/3 IP
Wilhelm is another Hall of Fame knuckleballer. After serving in World War II and earning a Purple Heart, Wilhelm didn’t make his Major League debut until he was 29. But he pitched until the age of almost 50, becoming one of baseball’s first great relievers. Wilhelm was the first player to pitch 1,000 games and the first to make 200 saves in his career. He was the all-time leader in both categories when he retired, and he is still the all-time leader in reliever wins, with 124. Wilhelm was an eight-time All-Star, a won two ERA titles, won the 1954 World Series Championship with the Giants and pitched a hit against the Yankees in 1958. He ended his career with 143 wins, 228 saves and a 2.52 ERA.
3) Tim Wakefield (1992-2011)
200-180; 4.41 ERA; 2156K; 3 226 1/3 IP
The most well-known hitting player in recent baseball history, Wakefield enjoyed a long career with the Red Sox, winning 200 games and recording 2,156 strikeouts in 19 seasons (17 in Boston). Drafted as a first baseman by the Pirates, Wakefield’s struggles as a miners hitter resulted in a full 180 career – he learned his signature knuckleball, worked with Niekro to refine it and moved on. turned into a successful pitcher in the big leagues. Wakefield was an All-Star for the Red Sox in 2009 at age 42, won two World Series rings in ’04 and ’07 and was a Cy Young finalist in 1995, his first year in Boston, when he went 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA. He is a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
4) Charlie Hough (1970-94)
216-216; 3.75 ERA; 2362K; 3,801 1/3 IP
Hough was a complete gaming machine, pitching 107 of them in his career, including 10 or more in one season six times in seven years from 1982 to 1988 and a Major League leader 17 in 1984. He pitched 25 seasons. in the big leagues, including 11 for the Dodgers and Rangers, and was the first starting pitcher in Marlins franchise history, winning the mound on opening day 1993, at age 45, and defeating Orel Hershiser and the Dodgers. Hough has won 216 games during his career with a 3.75 ERA and 2,362 strikeouts and was a star for Texas in 1986. He is a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame.
5) RA Dickey (2001-17)
120-118; 4.04 ERE; 1477K; 2,073 2/3 IP
Dickey is the only knuckleball pitcher to win a Cy Young Award. It was the crowning achievement of a career that saw Dickey go from a struggling journeyman to an All-Star. Dickey rebounded in the league as a traditional pitcher early in his career with the Rangers, and even after developing his knuckleball in 2005, he struggled to stay in the Majors. But when the Mets signed him in 2010, Dickey got it all in place. He posted a 2.84 ERA in his first season in New York City and two years later he was featured in Cy Young’s magical season. That year, 2012, Dickey, 37, went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts in the league lead, 233 2/3 innings pitched, five full games and three shutouts. He’s one of the newest active knuckleballers, as hardly any pitcher throws knuckleballs in the Majors today.
6) Eddie Cicotte (1905-20)
209-148; 2.38 ERA; 1374K; 3,226 IP
Cicotte was the first great American fist in modern baseball. He won 209 games with 1,374 strikeouts and a 2.38 ERA in a 14-season career with the Tigers, Red Sox and White Sox before being banned from baseball for his role in the 1919 World Series ‘Black Sox’ scandal. Nicknamed “Knuckles,” Cicotte led the American League in wins twice, won an ERA title and pitched a hit in 1917.
7) Wilbur Wood (1961-78)
164-156; 57 VS; 3.24 ERE; 1411 K; 2,684 IP
A rare left-handed fist, Wood mastered the pitch after being traded to the White Sox in 1966, aided by teammate Wilhelm. Wood used his knuckleball to throw with unmatched frequency. As a reliever during his early years at Chicago, he led his league in three consecutive appearances from 1968 to 1970 – including an MLB 88 top in 68, when he was Sporting Firefighter of the Year. News. After starting in 1971, Wood won more than 20 games in four consecutive seasons from 1971 to 1974 (leading the AL two consecutive years 72 to 73), and he led the Majors in games started four consecutive seasons from from ’72 -75. During that race, Wood was three times All-Star and three times in the top five in voting for the Cy Young Award. In 1972, he started an incredible 49 games, tied for second in a season in the modern era – and he started 48 games the following year.
8) Dutch Leonardo (1933-53)
191-181; 3.25 ERA; 1170K; 3,218 1/3 IP
Leonard’s best seasons of career came with the Senators in the early 1940s – Leonard was a four-time star with Washington (in addition to a fifth-year star with the Cubs). In 1944, he was part of a Senators rotation that remarkably included four brass knuckles: himself, Roger Wolff, Johnny Niggeling, and Mickey Haefner. In 20 major league seasons, Leonard won 191 games with a 3.25 ERA and 1,170 strikeouts. Jackie Robinson once said of his knuckleball: “He comes in, makes a face at you, then runs away.”
9) Joe Niekro (1967-88)
221-204; 3.59 ERA; 1747K; 3,584 1/3 IP
Young Niekro was himself a successful brass knuckles player. Joe has won 221 games in his 22-year career, giving the Niekro brothers 539 wins between them. He was at his best with the Astros in the ’70s and’ 80s, including the first five consecutive Cy Young from 1979 to 1980. In the first of those seasons, Niekro led the league with 21 wins and five shutouts and has been All-Star for the only time in his career. He won a World Series ring in 1987 with the Twins at 42.
10) Tom Candiotti (1983-99)
151-164; 3.73 ERA; 1735K; 2,725 IP
Candiotti has won 151 games with a career ERA of 3.73 over 16 seasons, pitching primarily for Cleveland and the Dodgers. From 1986, his first full season, until 1993, he broke the 200 innings mark eight times in a row. Two of his best seasons came in 1986, when he led the AL with 17 full games and set career highs with 16 wins, 167 strikeouts and 252 1/3 innings pitched, and in 91, when he achieved a personal best of 2.65 MPM. .