Hitters hate the knuckleball. This is a given. Fans seem to hate it too, but why? The knuckleball is a great pitch that is used to throw hitter off of what is usually thrown at them. Though the knuckleball is one of the toughest pitches to perfect, here are the top 10 knuckleball pitchers to ever play the game.
1. Eddie Cicotte – Though he is mostly famous, or in this case infamous, for his participation in the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. He was banned from ever playing in the MLB again. He loses a lot of respect from this, but his knuckleball is still the best that has ever been. Considered by many to be the inventor of the knuckleball, he posted a 208-149 career record with a 2.38 ERA.
2. Phil Niekro – Having over 300 wins in the MLB instantly grants you a pass into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Niekro did this while using the knuckleball. He had a total of 318 wins over his career with a 3.35 ERA. Not only was he one of the best knuckleball pitchers of all time, he was also one of the best pitchers of all time too.
3. Hoyt Wilhelm – Wilhelm has to be the best relief knuckleball pitcher of all time. He recorded 227 saves in his entire career and also had 143 wins to go along with it. Though he did have a few stints as a starter, he will always be remembered for his great closing work.
4. Tim Wakefield – Tim Wakefield is the most current knuckleball pitchers on this list. Playing his whole career in Boston, aside from his two years in PIttsburgh, he is easily the most recognizable name on this list. Though his ERA is above 4.00 and he doesn’t have the greatest statistics, he is still one of the best knuckleball pitchers of all time.
5. Ted Lyons – Ted Lyons has some of the most astonishing statistics on this list of best knuckleball pitchers ever. Out of his 484 starts, he completed 356 of them. In 1927, he threw for over 300 innnings in the regular season. Now, it is a great feat to record just 200 innings in a single season.
6. Joe Niekro – Niekro does not have any astonishing statistics or great accomplishments, he was just a solid pitcher during his career. He posted 221 wins in his career and finished his career with a 3.59 ERA.
7. Charlie Hough – Hough threw for over 3800 innings in his entire career. He pitched for 25 years in the Major League. Though he never had an outstanding season, Hough had a very consistent career in which you knew what you were getting out of him.
8. Wilbur Wood – Wood, in 1972, threw for an amazing 376.2 innings. He was easily one of the best knuckleball pitchers in the game and with a longer career, he could have easily been in the top 5 knucklers of all time.
9. Jesse Haines – Over his career, Haines won 210 games and threw many shutouts. 208 to be exact. Haines led the Cardinals with his outstanding knuckleball all throughout the 1920’s and 30’s.
10. Tom Candotti – Though his stats were never that great, Candotti had one of the better careers for knuckleball pitchers. He threw for 151 wins and posted a 3.73 ERA over his career.
All statistics used in this article were obtained from ESPN.com