Kevin Millar and the Knuckler

Kevin Millar’s role with the Blue Jays is one he’s played often: the non-descript, blasé veteran bat that happens to tote a championship ring on his finger. Millar’s pitch-type distribution reeks of oddity despite seeing nearly 600 pitches. That’s because nearly 5% of those pitches have registered as knuckleballs. The most recognizable knuckleballer remaining, Boston’s Tim Wakefield, has faced off with Millar on six different occasions this season.

How can nearly 5% of Millar’s pitches seen come from those six plate appearances? Like this:

PA#1: three pitches, pop out
PA#2: one pitch, homer
PA#3: three pitches, groundout
PA#4: seven pitches, walk
PA#5: four pitches, strikeout
PA#6: eight pitches, walk

Sure enough, 26 pitches over six plate appearances. A Millar season would not be complete without a few lengthy at-bats against Wakefield. In 2008, Millar racked up 23 pitches in six plate appearances, including a nine-pitch strikeout; in 2007, Millar drew 13 of his 29 overall in one plate appearance, which ended in a single.

To Millar’s credit, he’s been quite good at hitting the knuckler. After departing from the Red Sox, Millar’s wKN/C are: 8.18, 3.75, -2.29, and this year 9.79. Using the leaderboards from the past three seasons, Millar leads the majors in wKN, just ahead of Johnny Damon, Aubrey Huff, and a trunk load of Yankees. This makes sense, given Millar’s residence in the division during each of those seasons.

I guess the ability to hit knucklers is as good as any reason to keep Millar employed.

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13 years ago

Don’t forget another 9 plate appearances against RA Dickey that’ll help boost his KN/C ratio.

13 years ago
Reply to  Spifficus

1. no, not baseball steven jackson, football steven jackson. Just clarifying.
2. R.A. Dickey’s knuckleballs barely even count. they’re not exactly that of wakefield or hoyt wilhelm…