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.
The intentional balk is a tactic used in baseball. It involves the pitcher deliberately balking in order to move a baserunner from second base to third base, in order to prevent sign stealing.
By rule, a batter can not cause a pitcher to balk. A balk is the result of an illegal action by the pitcher while any base is occupied. If the batter leaves the batter’s box with both feet during the pitch and the pitcher delivers the pitch, two strikes are called on the batter.
In disengaging the rubber the pitcher must step off with his pivot foot and not his free foot first. He may not go into a set or stretch position—if he does it is a balk. that known as “the stretch.” But if he so elects, he shall come to Set Position before delivering the ball to the batter.
The pitcher is still allowed to fake a throw to second base while in contact with the rubber provided that he steps towards second. Note that a pitcher, when faking a throw to second base, is not required to have arm motion in the fake, although a legal step is required.
MLB rules state that: “Pitchers shall take signs from the catcher while in contact with the pitcher’s plate” (the rubber), but the rules do not describe the infraction as a balk.
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.
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.
If the batter swings and misses or hits into an out, the play is called a “no-pitch” and the batter is able to hit again. If a pitcher balks with no runners on base, a ball is called and the play is dead.
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.
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.
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.
Umpires should call “Balk” loud enough to hear, but if he doesn’t it doesn’t change the result, still a homer! The balk is only if the pitch ends up in the catchers mitt or if he doesn’t deliver the ball, this is why pitchers might not even deliver the ball if he knows of the call prior to release.
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 pitcher may fake a throw to second or third base from the rubber, but not to first base. This may be done from the windup or the set position. (You do not have to step off the rubber to fake to 2nd or 3rd. Only if you fake to 1st.)
Balks. In order to successfully steal a base, timing is absolutely crucial. Many baserunners, therefore, only attempt to steal a base while the pitcher is in the motion of throwing the ball to home plate.
The penalty for a balk provides that if a batter reaches first base safely on a hit or error, base on balls, or otherwise on a pitch on which a balk is called, the batter shall be entitled to first base only if all other runners have advanced one base or more on the play, in which case the balk is disregarded.
If the pitcher does disengage while feinting to third, then the pitcher may feint to first because his status is now that of an infielder.
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.
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.
Rule 5.02(a) says a catcher’s balk happens when the catcher is out of position on a pitch: “Except that when the batter is being given an intentional base on balls, the catcher must stand with both feet within the lines of the catcher’s box until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.”
When a fielder throws his glove at a batted ball, it is a violation of baseball rule, 5.06(4)(C), the detached equipment rule. There is no penalty if the glove does not make contact with the ball but if the glove makes contact, all runners, including the batter runner are awarded three bases.