The Effective Velocities of R.A. Dickey and Chelsea Baker

Perry Husband of HittingIsAGuess.com has posted a YouTube video analyzing the Effective Velocity of R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball as it crosses the plate.

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The eight-minute video “takes an Effective Velocity look at R.A. Dickey and his use of the Knuckleball as many different pitch types, all with minimum actual speed differentials. He uses a brilliant EV tunnel to disguise the different pitch types his knuckler has evolved into…. High inside pitches appear to be faster, while low away pitches look a lot slower.”

“Effective Velocity” (EV) comes right under “Filthy Pitching” in the HittingIsAGuess directory. The site defines EV as

the study of pitch speed and how location changes the reaction time by forcing the hitter to hit the ball at a contact point that is different than they were ready for. When a pitch at 90 MPH is inside or outside, the speed “Effectively” changes because the hitter has to hit the ball earlier or later as though the pitch gained or lost speed. So, in essence, the pitch location has caused the hitter to gain or lose reaction time.

HittingIsAGuess aims to use objective measurement to “take the guesswork out of” baseball instruction—although, to be sure, one can never quite eliminate the guesswork from the job of either pitching or swinging at a pitch, least of all when a knuckleball is involved.

Chelsea Baker with her knuckleballBlast from the Past Department: In an ESPN story about Chelsea Baker from 2010, the then-Little Leaguer talks about “Couch Joe” (Joe Niekro) and how she learned the knuckleball from him. “I saw my coach Joe Niekro throw me the knuckleball, and I wanted to learn it…. I always asked him to teach me how to throw it. He’d always say it’s a secret. But finally, one day he taught it to me, and I learned it…. I think I’m breaking barriers.”

By 2014, Ben Rohrbach reported, she was

a junior right-handed pitcher starting for the Cougars in Florida’s competitive Class 7A. Needless to say, she’s the only girl on Durant’s 10-3 baseball team. But that’s not the only reason she stands out.

The 5-foot-2, 120-pound Baker throws mostly knuckleballs, a pitch she learned from two of the best to ever throw it. First, 1979 Major League Baseball All-Star Joe Niekro taught her as a youth and later 2009 MLB All-Star Tim Wakefield helped her perfect it, according to the Plant City Times & Observer.

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