Drew Sheppard over at FanGraphs is a genius in the .GIF making department and his latest piece of work takes a look at three knuckleball pitches from R.A. Dickey’s 2012 campaign. In the .GIF you can see the three pitches compared side by side and you can see how insane the pitches actually are.
Drew also explained a little more than we ever wanted to know about the knuckleball, and we are glad he did.
While traditional pitches create movement through spin induced by grip and arm action (exceptional curveballs have been measured at 2,500-3,000 revolutions per minute) creating high pressure zones that deflect the ball in the opposite direction, the key to the unique movement of the knuckleball is a near complete lack of spin. The ideal knuckleball makes just 1 to 1.5 rotations (~150 RPM) between release and home plate, causing the drag on the ball to shift significantly mid-flight as the leading seam of the ball rotates slightly, resulting in unpredictable and uniquely sudden movement.