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.
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 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.
Once a pitcher steps off the pitching rubber, they are considered an infielder and they are allowed to do whatever they want. If they want to fake a throw to first base after stepping off the rubber, they are able to do that without breaking any rules.
(Under current rules, the only base a pitcher may feint to is second.) Umpires should indicate balks called under Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a)(3) (no step) by slapping the side of their leg after calling the balk. This indicates the balk is for failure to step directly towards a base.
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.
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.
If the pitcher drops the ball while in contact with the rubber and the ball does not break the plane of the foul line, that is a balk. If the ball crosses the foul line, that is a wild pitch and the ball remains live.
One of the more uncommon, but still exciting, ways to end a baseball game is by the pitcher making one costly mistake with a balk. What is a balk off? A “balk-off”, also known as a “walk-off balk”, refers to a baseball team winning a game because of a balk on the pitcher.
In baseball, a pitcher can commit a number of illegal motions or actions that constitute a balk. Most of these violations involve pitchers pretending to pitch when they have no intention of doing so.
If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk. A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base but does not require him to throw (except to first base only) because he steps.
To avoid a balk call, be sure that you step toward first base when you throw. You must “disengage from the rubber” before throwing to first base. For RHPs this means you move your back foot [the one touching the rubber] first.
This seems to meet the definition of “illegal pitch” in the MLB rulebook, which reads, “An ILLEGAL PITCH is (1) a pitch delivered to the batter when the pitcher does not have his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate; (2) a quick return pitch. An illegal pitch when runners are on base is a balk.”
According to rule 8.01, ‘pitchers shall take the sign from the catcher while standing on the rubber’. Unless there is a quick pitch situation, where they setup off then back on quickly to pitch, there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for the pitch signs coming from the dugout.
In baseball, it is illegal to pickoff to an empty base. Performing a pickoff to an empty base violates the rule about throwing to an unoccupied base. Therefore, a balk will be called when a pitcher tries to pickoff an empty base.
A pitcher can not feint a throw to first base.
Does the baseball pitcher need to come to a complete stop before throwing to a base? There is no requirement to stop from either the windup or the stretch/set pitching positions. One of the three legal actions from either position is for the pitcher to throw to a base for a pickoff throw attempt.
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.
In professional baseball, under Rule 6.02(a)(9), a balk occurs if the pitcher is standing on or astride of the pitching rubber without the ball. As play after a foul ball, hit batsman, or time out, must not resume until the pitcher is on the pitcher’s mound, the infielder cannot use these times to obtain the ball.
Whenever the play is attempted on the road, the home fans will inevitably yell “balk”, but the play was specifically allowed in Rule 8.05: “It is possible, with runners on first and third, for the pitcher to step toward third and not throw, merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the runner on first start …
RIGHT-HANDED PICK-OFF TO FIRST BASE:
By rule, the pitcher must “gain ground” toward first base. Implementation of the “jump pivot” is the most efficient use of time and energy. - The pitcher will take a small jump with both feet at the same time and use his right foot to pivot towards first base.
Once a pitcher throws 21 pitches (under 14) or 31 pitches (15–18) in a game, the pitcher must rest and not participate in pitching. Furthermore, pitchers may not be catchers if more than 40 pitches were thrown by the player.Youth limits.