Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Here are the best knuckleballers of all time

2) Hoyt Wilhelm (1952-72)
143-122; 228 SV; 2.52 ERA; 1,610 K; 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 years old. But he pitched until he was nearly 50, becoming one of baseball’s first great relievers. Wilhelm was the first player to pitch 1,000 games, and the first to reach 200 career saves. He was the all-time leader in both categories when he retired, and he’s still the all-time leader in wins by a reliever, with 124. Wilhelm was an eight-time All-Star, won two ERA titles, won the 1954 World Series with the Giants and pitched a no-hitter against the Yankees in 1958. He finished his career with 143 wins, 228 saves and a 2.52 ERA.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 05, 2022 at 01:04 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: knuckleballers

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. salvomania Posted: January 05, 2022 at 01:48 PM (#6059726)
Tim Wakefield No. 3 and Wilbur Wood No. 7? That's ridiculous.

Perhaps Wood may be No. 7, but if so there's no way Wakefield is No. 3.
   2. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: January 05, 2022 at 01:53 PM (#6059727)
Yeah the rankings are more than a little suspect. RA Dickey 5th, Joe Niekro 9th? The list reads like; first and second the obvious choices, third to fifth guys people probably have heard of, sixth to tenth guys probably better than the 3-5 guys but not as well known so we'll move them down.
   3. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: January 05, 2022 at 02:09 PM (#6059732)
Fun article. The rankings are suspect (obviously), so it would have been better as an unranked list.
   4. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 05, 2022 at 02:44 PM (#6059743)
The modern trio of Wakefield/Hough/Dickey appear to be ranked too high. Or the past trio of Cicotte/Wood/Leonard are too low.

Pitcher - bWAR/WAA
Phil Niekro - 97/51
Hoyt Wilhelm - 50/27
Wakefield - 35/4
Hough - 39/6
RA Dickey - 23.1/5
Cicotte - 58/28
Wilbur Wood - 52/26
Dutch Leonard - 37/17
Joe Niekro - 29/-2.5(!)
Tom Candiotti - 42/19

   5. Cblau Posted: January 05, 2022 at 08:34 PM (#6059835)
Where's Ted Lyons?
   6. Ron J Posted: January 05, 2022 at 09:27 PM (#6059844)
#5 Not sure how to count Lyons. By his own account, "In some games I'll pitch as many as many as 25 knucklers". And by the end of his career he said he didn't throw many. "I stick mostly to my so-called fast one and my slow curve, but I have a knuckle ball in reserve and it helps mostly as a threat."
   7. Jack Sommers Posted: January 05, 2022 at 11:51 PM (#6059867)
My first strat season I owned was 1971. Wilbur Wood was amazing. Used him all the time and i wasn't even cheating. ;). 11.7 WAR . Cicotte actually pips him for greatest single season by a knuckleball I can find. 11.8 in 2017. Niekro had 10.0 in 1977.

   8. Ron J Posted: January 06, 2022 at 08:31 AM (#6059878)
#7 Not sure how much Cicotte counts. He used the knuckler primarily when starting out but by 1917 he was making heavy use of the "shine ball" and the "sailor" -- and nobody really knows what that was, though my guess would be a hard spitball. Ty Cobb said the sailor was his key pitch.

“Eddie Cicotte’s great success was due almost entirely to his ‘sailor.’ This ball would start out like an ordinary pitch and then would sail much in the same manner of a flat stone thrown by a small boy … When he was thrown out of organized baseball his secret went with him.” Source: Memoirs of Twenty Years in Baseball (Ty Cobb, Pages 65, 68)

   9. sanny manguillen Posted: January 06, 2022 at 09:48 AM (#6059888)
much in the same manner of a flat stone thrown by a small boy

We had two tiers of kids in my neighborhood. My brother was four years older than me and in the older group, I was in the younger. The two groups didn't really mix, except at the ballfield. One day one my brother's friends was ragging on me. I can't remember what it was, but it must have been real ####### behavior because I ended up chasing him even though he was much faster and could have pulverized me. Realizing I couldn't catch him, I reached down and got a nice, flat but jaggedy stone which I hurled. I was very surprised when he grabbed the back of his head, and even more surprised when he didn't turn around and pulverize me. He showed up a couple days later with a shaved spot and a few stitches in his head. No repercussions at all - I guess he didn't want anyone to know that a ten year-old had sent him to the hospital.

   10. Jack Sommers Posted: January 08, 2022 at 06:04 PM (#6060261)
#8, Thanks Ron for that info. And thanks for not calling out my typo on the year.

#9, When I was about 7 or 8 we had a dirtball fight at construction site in our neighborhood. There were two huge piles of dirt 50 feet apart. Made the perfect "trench warfare" setup. Anyway I got nailed by a clump that had a rock in it. It got me pretty good on the top back of my head, and my cousin said I better get home. I lived two doors over and went home holding my head. By the time I got home the blood was really flowing. I didn't realize how much but when I looked at my hands they were completely covered in blood and I freaked

That was stitches episode number 4 out of the 8 times I had to get stitches before adulthood.

   11. Howie Menckel Posted: January 08, 2022 at 07:15 PM (#6060265)
That was stitches episode number 4 out of the 8 times I had to get stitches before adulthood.


I only had 3 sets of stitches in that span, but did break a finger on three separate occasions and also my collarbone (adding another broken finger plus 2 metacarpals as an adult. not sure of the stitches vs bones breakdown.


one of the finger breaks occurred on the baseball field (bad hop at 1B), and the 2 metacarpals were the result of an OF collision in softball.
   12. Ron J Posted: January 08, 2022 at 08:00 PM (#6060268)
Two of my 3 most serious childhood injuries involved glass and one was baseball related. Slid into second base and ended up with second base stuck in me -- just below my knee. I can't remember why we thought using a broken bottle as second base was a good idea but I'm sure we had our reasons. Likely it was just in the right place so ...

Had a scar that was visible for decades though I don't remember being seriously hurt.
   13. Jack Sommers Posted: January 09, 2022 at 12:04 AM (#6060285)
How did we last this long ?
   14. Ron J Posted: January 09, 2022 at 12:20 AM (#6060287)
#13 No idea.

I used to laugh at my sister (minor hovering mom) but never too hard because I could still think of some of the things that seemed reasonable to me as a kid.
   15. sanny manguillen Posted: January 09, 2022 at 10:39 AM (#6060296)
How did we last this long ?

I grew up in a four-story apartment in the 60s. We lived on the top floor, so used the roof as a recreation area. There was wall of sorts around the outside - maybe three feet high - but we could get up there. So it's not just lasting this long, it's lasting this long with the same set of parents you started with.
   16. Jack Sommers Posted: January 09, 2022 at 11:05 AM (#6060297)
ha ! the crap I put my parents through.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.



<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF


Thanks to
Downtown Bookie
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogAfter 19 Years of ‘Managing,’ He Finally Gets to Be a Manager
(2 - 6:31pm, Aug 19)
Last: John Reynard

NewsblogTwo no-hitters in one game. How?
(6 - 6:16pm, Aug 19)
Last: Itchy Row

NewsblogBraves get an early jump on Dansby Swanson extension talks
(7 - 6:09pm, Aug 19)
Last: Itchy Row

NewsblogOMNICHATTER for the week of August 15-22, 2022
(132 - 6:06pm, Aug 19)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogAtlanta Braves player Marcell Ozuna arrested for DUI
(4 - 5:57pm, Aug 19)
Last: Itchy Row

NewsblogThe Six-Man Rotation May Be Baseball’s Next Evolutionary Step
(8 - 5:34pm, Aug 19)
Last: Infinite Yost (Voxter)

NewsblogHe got a job via LinkedIn -- Major League player
(13 - 5:20pm, Aug 19)
Last: Never Give an Inge (Dave)

NewsblogTop 100 prospects updated 2022 midseason rankings
(21 - 5:15pm, Aug 19)
Last: BDC

NewsblogAthletics release Andrus in final year of $120M deal
(16 - 3:40pm, Aug 19)
Last: GregD

NewsblogSources: New York Mets to call up touted 3B prospect Brett Baty
(13 - 2:51pm, Aug 19)
Last: asinwreck

NewsblogVideo shows Tony La Russa may have listened to fan in stands before putting pinch runner in
(30 - 2:02pm, Aug 19)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogJoey Votto to have season-ending shoulder surgery on torn rotator cuff
(52 - 1:07pm, Aug 19)
Last: DanG

NewsblogJosh Donaldson delivers for New York Yankees with grand slam walk-off in 10th inning
(6 - 11:01am, Aug 19)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogYankees four-time All-Star Dellin Betances retires
(7 - 11:27pm, Aug 18)
Last: mex4173

NewsblogFernando Tatis Jr. suspended, tests positive for banned substance
(31 - 9:47pm, Aug 18)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

Page rendered in 0.2535 seconds
45 querie(s) executed