Definition. A balk occurs when a pitcher makes an illegal motion on the mound that the umpire deems to be deceitful to the runner(s). As a result, any men on base are awarded the next base, and the pitch (if it was thrown in the first place) is waved off for a dead ball.
The penalty for a balk is that all base runners are awarded one base. The penalty for an illegal pitch is awarding one ball to the batter (unless the batter reaches first base safely on the pitch). A balk is a delayed dead ball.
Why is a balk illegal? The balk rule exists to limit the pitcher’s ability to deceive the batter and any base runners. The balk rule consists of specific actions a pitcher is unable to make and these actions are illegal because they help level the playing field between the pitcher and the offense.
An illegal pitch may be quick pitch (i.e. a pitch made before the batter is properly set in the batter’s box), a pitch made while the pitcher is not in contact with the pitching rubber, or one in which he takes an extra step while making his delivery.
Balks are rare.
Since 2000, there have only been 100-200 balks per season, which is roughly one every 12 to 24 games (or 648 to 1296 innings pitched) in a full 2430-game season.
The ol’ fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff move, a pitcher’s trick that fooled only the most gullible base runners, will now be a balk.
According to the rules, if the batter hits the ball after a balk is called, and gets a base hit, the play stands as if the balk was never called at all. Unfortunately, very few umpires know this, and tend to call it a “no play” or “do over”.
Twenty Ways to Balk- Interrupts his pitching motion.
Fails to come to a complete stop during the set position.
Fails to step toward and ahead of a throw.
Fails to have both hands on the ball once he’s in the set position.
Pitches while his pivot foot is not touching the rubber.
If no runners are on base and the pitcher commits an otherwise balkable action, there generally is no penalty. However, delivering a quick return or pitching while off the rubber (which constitute balks when runners are on base) results in a ball being called with the bases empty.
Rule 6.02(a)(5) Comment: A quick pitch is an illegal pitch. Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball.
Rule 8.05(e) Comment: A quick pitch is an illegal pitch. Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.
The word is “used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory.” In short, a runner can’t decline a balk. And, no, Heyward couldn’t have moved back to second base later in the at-bat.
The rules state that a pitcher must step toward the base he throws to. It doesn’t matter if you’re set or not. If you’re on the rubber, that makes you a pitcher and you must step before throwing.
However, if in the umpire’s judgment, the pitcher has thrown this ball to the shortstop in this case – legally or not, in such a manner that delays the game, then a BALK shall be called on the pitcher and ALL runners advance one base.
Definition. A screwball is a breaking ball designed to move in the opposite direction of just about every other breaking pitch. It is one of the rarest pitches thrown in baseball, mostly because of the tax it can put on a pitcher’s arm.
By lubricating the ball—with saliva, Vaseline, hair grease, or something else—the pitcher can throw a pitch that slides off his fingers without generating too much backspin. A greased-up pitch behaves kind of like a split-fingered fastball—it drops to the ground faster than a typical pitch.
Rip Sewell, a pitcher on the Pittsburgh Pirates, came up with the Eephus pitch in the ’40s. The name originates from the Hebrew word “efes,” which means nothing. Since the pitch is seen as a junk pitch since there is nothing special on it, the Hebrew phrase perfectly describes the nothing pitch.
With runners on base, the pitcher must be wary of any movement that could be construed as a balk. So, can a pitcher waggle his glove in an attempt to get the catcher to roll through the signs? Yes.
When a balk is made on a pitch that is a fourth ball it shall be ruled the same as when the batter hits a balk pitch and is safe on a hit or error, provided all runners advance at least one base on the play.
The actual definition in the MLB rulebook states “The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first or third base and fails to complete the throw” (Rule 6.02(a)). In other words, it is simply not allowed to fake a throw to first or third base while touching the pitching rubber.
It can become monotonous when a pitcher makes throw after throw after throw to first base in a vain attempt to pick off a pesky baserunner. This rule will limit pitchers to just two “step offs” or pickoff attempts per plate appearance.
Batters still can step out of the box under several conditions, including a swinging strike, wild pitch, passed ball, pickoff play or meeting at the mound. Pitch clocks will not be used in the major leagues, although they will be used in selected minor-league games.