The Best Knuckleballers of All Time
DirecTV has a pretty good thing where you get the baseball package and can watch eight games at a time. It takes quite a bit of concentration, but I'm usually up for it.
Anyways, watching last night there was a moment when both Tim Wakefield and the Twins' R.A. Dickey were pitching.
It got me thinking about the art of throwing the knuckler. So here it is, the best knuckleballers of all-time.
9. Tom Candiotti
Although Candiotti finished his career with a below .500 record (151-164), he was a solid contributor on what were some very bad Cleveland Indians teams in the 1980s. He was able to complete 17 games in 1986 and had a career 3.73 ERA.
8. Charlie Hough
Charlie Hough was one of the iconic knuckleballers that left fans with the impression that these guys could pitch forever.
When it was all said and done, Hough had pitched for 25 seasons, but finished his career with a record of 216 wins and 216 losses.
Hough did lead the league in 1984 in games started (36) and complete games (17). He is also the last starter to start 40 games in a season (accomplished in 1987).
7. Jesse Haines
Jesse Haines was able to win 210 games in his career behind the mysterious knuckleball. A trademark of a good knuckleballer, Haines completed 25 games in 1927, with six shutouts to his credit.
6. Tim Wakefield
Wakefield is the most recognizable pitcher throwing the knuckleball in today's game. He currently has 1,934 career strikeouts and is on pace to get his 2000th this season.
Wakefield's career record of 182-159 is not overwhelming, but did you know he also recorded 15 saves in 1999 and was 13th in MVP voting in 1995?
5. Joe Niekro
The other Niekro, Joe was quite a pitcher in his own right. He lead the National League in wins in 1979 (21 wins) and was second in Cy Young Award voting.
For his career, Niekro won 221 games.
4. Hoyt Wilhelm
Wilhelm was a five-time all-star and finished his career not only with 143 wins, but also 227 saves.
3. Ted Lyons
Hall of Famer Ted Lyons won 260 games in his 21 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He led the majors in wins in 1925 and 1927.
He completed a mind-boggling 356 of his career starts.
2. Phil Niekro
Phil Niekro is the first person who pops into my head when I think of the knuckleball. With 318 career wins and 3,342 career strikeouts, Niekro is definitely worthy of his Hall of Fame status.
Niekro led the American League in wins in 1974 and 1979. He was also a solid fielder, winning five Gold Glove Awards.
1. Eddie Cicotte
Cicotte is perhaps best known as one of the banned "Black Sox" from the 1919 World Series-winning team. He is also considered by many to be the inventor of the knuckleball, so it's only fitting that he finds his way to the top of this list.
His career stats include a 208-149 record and a 2.38 career ERA. Cicotte led the league in wins in 1917 (with 28 wins) and 1919 (with 29 wins).