Mets right-hander and soft-spoken Southern gentleman R.A. Dickey threw his second consecutive one-hitter tonight — in this case, against the Orioles of Baltimore. Nor do his defense-independent numbers suggest that he was anything but excellent on Monday night (box): 9.0 IP, 30 TBF, 13 K, 2 BB, 11 GB on 15 batted-balls (73.3% GB), 1.14 xFIP.
The average knuckleball from Dickey has approximately zero inches of horizontal movement and a single inch of positive vertical movement — or “rise,” a concept the present author discussed briefly earlier on Monday. Of course, the idea of an “average” knuckleball is a bit of a misnomer: given the nature of the pitch, the standard deviation of both sorts of movement is likely quite high. Indeed, this is the strength of the pitch: no one really knows where it’s going, not even Dickey.
As a sort of celebration of Dickey’s last two games — of his entire season, really — I sought out Dickey’s three “movingest” knuckleballs from his Monday start. In this case, I’ve identified the three of Dickey’s knuckleballs with the highest absolute value of total movement (i.e. the sum of the absolute values of both horizontal and vertical movement, in inches).
It’s hard to say if what follows are necessarily Dickey’s three best knuckleballs from Monday. However, each of them really does move quite a bit: indeed, the reader will note that catcher Josh Thole is unable to catch two of the three pitches and has to sort of violently move his glove to catch the other.
Below are those three knuckleballs. Click on individual GIFs for Maximum Pleasure™. (Data from Brooks Baseball.)
No. 3: Wilson Betemit, Third Inning
Movement: 5.2 in. armside, 7.5 in. rise (12.7 in.)
No. 2: Brian Roberts, Third Inning
Movement: 4.2 in. gloveside, 9.9 in. drop (14.1 in)
No. 1: Chris Davis, Seventh Inning
Movement: 6.9 in. armside, 8.8 in. drop (15.8 in)
Here’s a bonus: Dickey’s reaction to that last pitch — a reaction that suggests even he was surprised (and/or impressed) by the amount of movement on same.