Here’s a mind-blowing look at three knuckleballs from R.A. Dickey (GIF)
The knuckleball, by its physics-defying nature, is easily the oddest, mind-bending — and most unpredictable — pitch that can be part of a pitcher’s arsenal, which partly is why so few pitchers attempt to master the befuddling pitch.
And when the knuckleball is given the StroMotion treatment — particularly pitches out of the hand of Toronto Blue Jays knuckleball master (and 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner) R.A. Dickey, well, things get even more trippy than normal.
Allow FanGraphs’ Drew Sheppard, who created the GIF below, to explain:
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.
Okay, with that, here’s the aforementioned trippy GIF, featuring three darting and dipping and strangely moving pitches from Dickey’s 2012 Cy Young campaign with the New York Mets:
Whoa. Far out, man. Far freaking out.
Also, science. That’s neat, too.