What is a balk?
Even if you were only casually watching a baseball game, you’ve probably seen it: a pitcher makes a slight movement on the mound, and then the umpire stops play and signals for the runners to advance one base – all while there appears to be no activity taking place. Play continues after the television announcers spend a few seconds debating the meaning of a strange term known as “balk.” But what precisely is a balk in this context? With a vast number of permutations, it’s one of baseball’s more complicated laws, and it may often lead to misunderstanding among those on the field, as it has in the past.
If an umpire determines that the pitcher pretended to perform one of these things without clearly intending to follow through, the pitcher is called for a balk, and each of the runners is advanced one base.
Pitchers must first and foremost come to a complete halt with their bodies motionless and hands together after reaching agreement with their catcher on a pitch before beginning their motion toward home plate.
Balks are called when there is any fluidity between getting the sign and throwing home that results in the set being skipped or when a pitcher falters while the set is being played.
- Additionally, if their hands fall apart from the set without delivering either a pitch or a pickoff throw, it is considered a balk.
- Lefties must ensure that their right foot is planted in the direction in which they intend to throw once they have raised their right foot.
- If the pitcher is throwing to first, the right foot must land on the left side of the line.
- In order to finish their motion, righties must face the third-base side and aim it in a definite direction toward either a) home plate or b) the base to which they are pitching.
- If they do, there will almost always be a balk on their part.
- A balk occurs when a pitcher initiates any type of action that resembles his or her typical delivery, but then pauses before delivering the pitch as intended.
- The pitchers must release the ball with their backs to the hitter, which means that even Luis Tianthad to finally turn his tornado windup back toward home plate.
Major League Baseball’s rule book first included the balk in 1898, and for more than 100 years, a pitcher could fake a pickoff throw to one base before firing to another (for example, fake to third and throw to first) – but that practice was incorporated into the balk definition during the 2013 season.
Yes, that is also a balk, and the runners are given the opportunity to proceed.
Carlton, a Hall of Fame pitcher, holds the MLB record for the most balks with 90, and he is the only pitcher in history to have thrown more than one pitch in a game.
While on the mound, though, it is something to be avoided at all costs, and it is a rule that all pitchers should be familiar with as they progress up the ranks.
Balk – Wikipedia
This article is about the unlawful conduct in baseball that occurred in the past. See alsoBalk for further information (disambiguation). Bob Shaw owns the big league record for the most balks in a single game with five, which he set in 1989. In baseball, a pitcher can engage in a variety of prohibited motions or acts that are considered foul play. Pitching impersonation is the most common type of infraction, with pitchers pretending to throw when they have no intention of doing so. An intentional balk results in a dead ball or a delayed dead ball in games played according to the Official Baseball Rules, which regulate professional baseball in the United States and Canada.
In some rule sets, such as the National Federation of High Schools Baseball Rules in the United States, a balk results in an immediate dead ball, which is very common in baseball.
In Major League Baseball, the balk rule was first implemented in 1898.
When preparing for and throwing a pitch, a pitcher is limited to a certain set of actions and one of two fundamental pitching postures. In the event that these rules are broken when one or more runners are on base, an umpire may call a balk on the play. On a balk, the hitter at home does not progress to the next round. After being called for a balk, Mike Hauschild (right) speaks with an umpire about his options. When a runner is on base and the pitcher is on or astride (with one leg on each side of) the rubber, it is considered a balk under Official Baseball Rules if the pitcher does any of the following:
- Pitching posture is switched from the windup to the set (or vice versa) without the rubber being properly disengaged
- A pitcher who, when on the rubber, makes a move that is associated with a pitch but does not finish the delivery If one fails to come to a complete halt with his or her hands together before attempting to pitch from the fixed posture, it is considered unprofessional. Pitches to a base without taking any steps toward it (thereby increasing distance in the direction of that base)
- Except in the case of a play in progress, throws or feints a throw from the rubber to an unoccupied base. A throw that takes several steps or feints from the rubber to first or third base without being completed
- Delivers a rapid return pitch, which is a pitch delivered immediately after receiving the ball back, with the purpose of catching the hitter off guard. Drops the ball while it is still on the rubber, even if it is by mistake, as long as the ball does not cross a foul line thereafter
- This unnecessarily prolongs the game. a pitcher who throws with his back to the batter
- Except while making a pitch or a toss, one keeps his or her hands together on the rubber after bringing them together. Without the ball, the player stands on or astride the rubber, or he replicates a pitch without the ball When attempting a throw to a fielder from a position that is not directly at a base, Delivers a pitch during a squeeze play or a steal of home if the catcher or another player walks on or in front of home plate without possession of the ball, or if the batter is touched by the catcher or another player (or the bat). The ball has been declared dead, the hitter has been awarded first base, the pitcher has been charged with a balk, and a run has been scored.
Balk regulations differ depending on which rule set is being used. Nonetheless, if the pitcher is seen spitting on the ball, defacing or modifying the ball, rubbing the ball on his/her clothing/body, or putting a foreign substance to the ball, it will result in the pitcher being ejected from the game; however, it is not a balk.
Following an initial feint toward third (or second) base, a pitcher was permitted to turn and throw or feint to first base if the pitcher’s pivot foot disengaged from the rubber following the first feint. The “fake to third, throw to first” play is what this is known as. Major League Baseball, on the other hand, began classifying this as a balk beginning with the 2013 season. If there are no runners on base and the pitcher commits an otherwise balkable action, the pitcher will not usually be penalized.
If the pitcher does an act that is confusing to the batter with no one on base, interrupts their delivery, or otherwise breaches the rules, the game is resumed without penalty and the clock is reset to the beginning of the next inning.
If a pitcher conducts unlawful activities repeatedly when there are no runners on base, they may be ejected from the game.
Instead, it results in a balk, with all runners on base receiving their next base as a result.
It is not a phrase in the official rules, but it is occasionally used to describe an odd circumstance involving an intentional walk: when the pitcher releases the ball during delivery, the catcher is not entirely within the catcher’s box, and it is considered a violation. Because a balked pitch is classified as a “Pitcher Illegal Action,” the pitcher will still be charged with the foul ball. Pick-off attempts are not necessary to be made by a pitcher who has not yet exited the rubber before making the throw to an occupied base.
According to MLB regulations, “pitchers shall receive signs from the catcher while in touch with the pitcher’s plate” (the rubber), however the offense is not referred to as a balk in the rules.
Major League Baseball balk records
During his big league career, Steve Carlton was charged with 90 balks. Dave Stewart holds the big league record for the most balks in a single season with 16, which he achieved while pitching for the Oakland Athletics in 1988. Bob Shaw holds the big league mark for the most balks in a single game with five, which occurred on May 4, 1963, while pitching for the Milwaukee Braves against the Chicago Cubs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Four of the five balks occurred while the Cubs’ Billy Williams was on base: one in the first inning, then three more in the third inning, to complete the hat trick.
One of the reasons for Shaw’s balks was his difficulty adjusting to a new point of emphasis in baseball rules introduced at the time: umpires were instructed to strictly enforce a section of the balk rule that required the pitcher to come to a complete stop with his hands together for one full second before pitching when transitioning from the stretch to the set position.
During a single big league exhibition game in March 1988, knuckleballerCharlie Hough was penalized for nine balks, which resulted in the loss of the game.
Spec Shea dropped the ball while attempting to pick off Jackie Robinson at first base during the 1947 World Series (New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers); after at least one further effort, he dropped the ball and the umpire called a timeout. Robinson was advanced to second base by Babe Pinelli. When heavy gusts at Candlestick Park prompted pitcherStu Miller to wobble unpredictably, he was penalized for a balk in the first All-Star Game of 1961, it became a legendary moment in baseball history.
In the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game with DodgerEnrique Hernándezat third base, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat theTexas Rangers on June 18, 2015, when Rangers relief pitcherKeone Kelacommitted a balk against the Dodgers.
Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansenintentionally balked during a game against the Chicago Cubs on June 14, 2019.
Because Jansen was concerned that a runner at second base may steal signs, he purposely balked, moving the runner to third base.
After then, Jansen struck out batterVictor Caratinif for the last out of the contest. Other deliberate balks have happened in Major League Baseball, albeit on a rare occasion.
- Baseball Rules Chronology: 1845–1899 | BaseballLibrary.com
- Baseball Rules Chronology: 1845–1899 | BaseballLibrary.com
- Major League Baseball’s official website provides the following information: official rules
- Official information
- Official information MLB is ready to eliminate the old fake-to-3rd, throw-to-1st pickoff trick maneuver in the next season, according to Balk. The Washington Post published an article on May 10, 2012, entitled Archived from the original on May 15, 2012
- Abc”Official Baseball Rules 2018 Edition”Major League Baseball
- Abc”Umpires: Feature | MLB.com: Official info
- Abc On July 31, 2018, Steve Carlton was featured on Baseball-Reference.com, and Dave Stewart was featured on Baseball-Reference.com. Cleon abWalfoort abWalfoort abWalfoort abWalfoort abWalfoort abWalfoort, Cleon (May 4, 1963). “Shaw is the shakiest pitcher in the entire league.” Milwaukee Journal
- A scholarly journal The date was May 4, 1963. The box score and play-by-play for the Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Braves can be found at Baseball-Reference.com. “Hough has been called for nine balks.” The New York Times, March 8, 1988
- “1947 World Series by Baseball Almanac”
- “Candlestick Park, a.k.a. 3Com Park”
- “Candlestick Park, a.k.a. 3Com Park”. Baseball Statistics. Archived from the original on 2009-10-20
- “Dodgers win on Rangers’ balk”. MLB.com. The 18th of June, 2015. The following are some examples: Gilfix, Adam (June 19, 2015), “Talking Balk: All Walk-Off Balks in Major League Baseball History,” HSAC, retrievedJune 15,2019
- “Los Angeles Dodgers 5, Chicago Cubs 3,” HSAC, retrievedJune 15,2019
- Retrosheet. The 14th of June, 2019. September 7, 2021
- Retrieved September 7, 2021
- Ken Gurnick is the author of this work (June 15, 2019). “Have you ever witnessed a deliberate balk? You now have what you want “. MLB.com. 15th of June, 2019
- Retrieved 15th of June, 2019.
In its most basic definition, a balk occurs when a pitcher attempts to intentionally fool a hitter or a baserunner. An example might be a pitching mound flinch after the pitcher has been set up, a deceptive pick off attempt, or even something as basic as dropping the ball once you have been set up. There are a variety of activities that might result in a refusal to comply. Each time a balk is called while runners are on the field, all of the runners are forced to advance up a base. Because the umpire is unable to read the pitcher’s thoughts, some motions are deemed dishonest and will result in a balk being called.
Balk or Pick off Move for Left Handed Pitchers
The following is the regulation governing a left-handed pitcher’s pick-off maneuver. If the pitcher does not adhere to this regulation, the error is referred to as a balk. First and foremost, as the pitcher begins his motion and his right foot crosses his left knee, the pitcher must deliver the ball into the strike zone. A balk will be called if he attempts to come to first in the game. Some pitchers would cross over their right knee but not cross over their right foot, which might cause a base runner to become confused and allow him to choose his way over to first base without a balk being thrown at him.
- A pitcher must get to a predetermined location in which he comes to a complete halt after receiving the signal but before beginning his move home
- This is known as the set position. The right foot of a pitcher must point in the general direction in which he is pitching (see illustration). According to the umpires I’ve spoken to (it’s not an official regulation, but it’s a useful guideline to understand what an umpire thinks “deceptive”), it goes like this: Between home plate and first base, an imaginary 45-degree line may be drawn from the pitching rubber to the infield. Despite the fact that the 45-degree line is not an official regulation, professional umpires have described it to me as a useful guideline for understanding what an umpire deems to be “deceptive.” To bring the ball home, you must plant your right foot on the home plate side of this imaginary line if you are pitching to the plate. You must plant your right foot on the side of the imaginary line that corresponds to first base if you are throwing over to first base. In order to avoid being caught off guard by a runner stealing second base and flicking the ball to first base out of desperation, this regulation prohibits a pitcher from planning to pitch the ball home while his or her feet are in position to throw towards home plate.
Balk or Pick off Move for Right Handed Pitchers
- In order to start his motion home, a pitcher must get to a predetermined position where he comes to a complete stop after receiving the signal. The right foot of a pitcher must point in the general direction of the ball he is throwing (see illustration). In the words of the umpires I’ve spoken with (it’s not an official rule, but it’s a useful guideline to understand what an umpire considers “deceptive”): From the pitcher’s rubber to the area between home plate and first base, an imaginary 45-degree line runs. Despite the fact that the 45-degree line is not an official rule, professional umpires have described it to me as a helpful guideline for understanding what an umpire considers to be “deceptive.” The right foot of the pitcher must land on the home plate side of this imaginary line if he is pitching the ball home
- You must land your right foot on the side of the imaginary line that corresponds to first base if you are attempting to throw over to 1st base. In order to avoid being caught off guard by a runner stealing second base and flicking the ball to first base out of desperation, this rule prohibits a pitcher from intending to pitch the ball home while his or her feet are in position to throw to home plate.
Doug Bernier, the founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, made his Major League debut with the Colorado Rockies in 2008 and has since played for five different organizations (the Colorado Rockies, the New York Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Minnesota Twins, and the Texas Rangers) over the course of his 16-year professional baseball career. He has experience at every infield position in the Major Leagues and has played every position on the field professionally, with the exception of catcher.
Doug departed from professional baseball after 16 years and went on to work as a Major League scout for the Colorado Rockies for two years after his retirement.
How Many Ways Can a Pitcher Balk in Baseball (With Examples)
In one of my recent baseball games, we faced a pitcher who made three balks in one inning, and we were unable to score. The fascinating part about this was that he ended up balking in three distinct directions. After reading that, I started thinking about how many variations there are in which a pitcher might balk, and how many various ways a pitcher can balk is there? I made the decision to find out. In baseball, how many different ways can a pitcher make a mistake? According to the Major League Baseball’s official rules, there are 13 different ways a pitcher can balk.
Unless you’ve been playing baseball for a long time, it may appear like there are multiple ways for a pitcher to balk, but you may still be perplexed as to what exactly those different ways are. Check out the 13 different ways the Major League Baseball defines a balk.
Ways a Pitcher can Balk in Baseball
For further information on balks, please check Section 6.02(a) of the official 2019 Major League Baseball Rules & Regulations.
- While touching his plate, the pitcher performs any gesture that would normally be connected with his pitch, but fails to deliver the pitch as intended. In which the pitcher feints a throw to first or third base while still touching his plate, but ultimately fails to execute the throw
- Despite touching his plate, the pitcher does not stride straight toward any of the bases before throwing to that base. Except for the purpose of creating a play, the pitcher tosses or feints a throw to an unoccupied base while his plate is still in contact with the ground. The pitcher throws a pitch that is not allowed
- In order to avoid facing the batter, the pitcher throws the ball to him while facing away from him. While he is not touching the pitcher’s plate, the pitcher can perform any move that is normally linked with his pitching motion. The pitcher unduly prolongs the game’s duration. When the pitcher does not have the ball in his hands, he stands on or astride the pitcher’s plate, or he feints a pitch while off the plate. Once in a legal pitching posture, the pitcher removes one of his or her hands from the ball, unless he or she is making an actual pitch or attempting to throw to a base. While the pitcher is touching his plate, the ball either unintentionally or purposely slips or falls out of his hand or glove
- The pitcher throws when the catcher is not in the catcher’s box, despite the fact that he has given up an intentional base on balls. While in Set Position, the pitcher throws the pitch without pausing to catch his breath
Are you interested in learning more about baseball’s laws and regulations? Check out this pocket-sized version of the Official Rules of Baseball book available from Amazon.
Examples of Balks
It is the primary purpose of the balk rule to prevent pitchers from misleading the runner on base. When in doubt, umpires should consider whether or not the pitcher was attempting to fool the runner by throwing a curveball. A balk is called when it is found that the pitcher attempted to fool the runner by throwing the ball in his direction instead of through it. It is one of the most prevalent reasons for a balk that people will observe is when the pitcher does not get into a predetermined posture.
- Following this basic guideline will assist pitchers in avoiding violations of the 13th balk rule, which is listed in the preceding section.
- A pitcher flinching is considered a deceptive motion, and any umpire who sees it will label it a balk right away.
- They both break Rule 1 from the list above, which specifies that a pitcher may not fail to deliver the ball if he makes any movement linked with his throw.
- If a pitcher pitches to a base that is not occupied, this is considered an unnecessary delay and is a violation of the 8th rule, which was previously discussed.
- The final scenario we’ll discuss is when the catcher is not in the catcher’s box at the time.
- The majority of people will notice that baseball grounds have a catcher’s box painted behind home plate, however this box may be removed during the course of a game, as has happened on several occasions.
- Runners are granted one base for every base that the catcher sets up outside of the catcher’s box.
Following a brief introduction to balks and the many laws that govern them, it becomes simpler to comprehend what a balk is and why it exists. Are you interested in knowing more about the many varieties of balks available? Visit mikescottbaseball.com for a video explaining the Balk Rules.
What happens when a pitcher balks?
In the event of a balk by a pitcher with runners on base, the umpire will signal a balk and all runners will be moved up one base. Unless the batter is able to advance to first base as a result of a hit, an error, or a walk, and all other runners are able to advance at least one base, the play will proceed as if the balk had never occurred in the first place. As a result, if a pitcher gets called for a balk but is still in position to deliver the pitch to home plate, the hitter has the option to swing and attempt to reach base via a hit.
Whenever a pitcher makes a balk with no runners on base, a ball is called and the action is over.
Is a balk an error on the pitcher?
Despite the fact that a balk appears to be an error, or at the very least a mental error, in most cases a balk ends in a dead ball, with no faults being awarded to any of the participants. Balks have no consequences other than that players are granted a base (if there are runners) or a ball is called in the event of a balk (if there are no runners).
Can you balk from the windup?
Another issue you could have is whether or not you can refuse to participate in the windup. Pitchers are capable of refusing to windup, despite the fact that this is not particularly often. When starting from the windup, pitchers must adhere to all of the 13 regulations listed above, which are still in place. Balks are called when a pitcher begins his pitching action from the windup and decides he does not want to finish his delivery. This is known as the windup rule. It is also considered a balk if a pitcher is standing on the rubber and accidently drops the ball.
Pitching from the windup is standard practice when no runners are on base, whereas pitching from the stretch is standard practice when runners are on base.
The runners are granted the next base if a pitcher makes a mistake with runners on (usually during a stretch pitching appearance).
Why would a pitcher intentionally balk?
Balks are currently a very infrequent occurrence in baseball, but is there a specific moment and situation in which a pitcher should purposely balks? As it turns out, there is one available! In the first game of the 2019 season, Kenley Jansen intentionally balked while pitching against the Cubs. This particular scenario involved a two-run lead for the Dodgers in the ninth inning, two outs remaining in the frame, and one runner still on second base. To avoid the runner on second base (Jason Heyward) from potentially stealing pitching signals, Kenley Jansen purposely balked to send the runner up to third base.
It is far less likely that the runner will steal pitching signs when on third base with the runner on third base. See this video by Jomboy Media, which does an excellent job of breaking down the play if you’re interested in watching this deliberate balk in action.
What Is a Balk in Baseball? A Complete Explanation
If you watch enough baseball, you’ll see an umpire raise his hands, exclaim “balk!” and guide a baserunner (or baserunners) to the next base at some point during your viewing session. Sometimes it’s evident what caused a balk to be called, and other times, despite your best efforts, you’re left scratching your head as to what just occurred. Don’t be concerned — you are not alone! So what exactly is a balk? When a pitcher makes an unlawful move when there is at least one runner on base, the pitcher is called out on a balk.
The regulation was introduced in order to prohibit pitchers from attempting to fool the baserunner while pitching (s).
Balks may be found in a variety of forms and sizes.
So let’s get down to business and answer the pressing question.
What Is a Balk in Baseball?
bmcent1 courtesy of Canva.com You could have heard the term “balk” and wondered what it meant, or you might be someone who doesn’t watch baseball and has never heard of the term “balk.” If you don’t understand anything or are just perplexed, it is entirely OK. Balks are unusual and unpredictable in such a way that even experienced observers may be perplexed by them. A balk is defined as any unlawful move or failure to stride directly toward a base with a runner or runners on base in order to mislead the baserunner (s).
- In this case, the keyword is “runners,” because you can only balk while someone is present on base.
- When the bases are empty, an action that would typically result in a balk is treated as a no-pitch, or in certain cases as an unlawful pitch (depending on what transpired, but that’s a discussion for another day).
- In this particular instance, Jackie Robinson was dancing off third base, which resulted in the pitcher losing the ball and making an error, which allowed Robinson to score as a result.
- As though for want of a better expression, the youngster cried, “Jackie threw him off his game!” Consequently, a discombobulation of the pitcher may appear to be appropriate.
- If you look at the rulebook, you’ll see that Rule 6.02 outlines no less than 13 possible instances in which to balk.
When it comes down to it, all of those circumstances are variants on the 13 different ways to balk that are laid forth in Rule 6.02.
Baseball Rules on Balks
All right, let’s get this party started, shall we? Rules 6.02 and 6.03 provide the following list of all 13 methods to balk, which has been edited for clarity: When there are runners on base, a balk can be called if any of the following conditions are met:
- While on the pitching rubber, the pitcher performs any move naturally linked with his pitch and fails to deliver his pitch as a result of this failure (essentially, he starts and stops his pitching motion). This is frequently noted when a pitcher flinches while in the set position
- When a pitcher feints a throw to first or third base and fails to finish the throw
- And when a pitcher flinches while in the set position.
- This will occur more frequently when a left-handed pitcher throws (or does not throw) to first base without first stepping off the rubber
- When the pitcher is touching the rubber, he or she fails to take a step directly toward a base before throwing to the base in question.
- This is best shown by the so-called “45-degree rule,” in which an imaginary line drawn 45 degrees from the mound away from home plate towards first base (for a lefty) or third base (for a righty) is drawn away from home plate (for a righty). The pitcher’s foot is judged to have crossed the line if it is determined that the foot has passed the line. Balk occurs when an outfielder crosses the line but chooses to throw to a base.
- The pitcher tosses or feints a throw to an unoccupied base while still on the rubber, unless he or she has to make a play (for example, if a runner is running before the pitch)
- The pitcher throws a pitch that is not legal. Typically, this is a so-called “fast pitch,” which is thrown before the hitter has a chance to become “properly set” in the batter’s box. In order to avoid facing the batter, the pitcher throws the ball to him while facing away from him. Any motion associated with a pitcher’s pitch that occurs naturally while the pitcher is not touching the rubber is permitted. The pitcher unduly prolongs the game’s duration. The pitcher stands on or astride the pitching rubber without the ball in his or her hands and pretends to throw a pitch to the batter.
- Likewise, this includes the rarely-used hidden ball trick, which needs the pitcher to be completely off the mound (since he does not hold the ball) in order for the trick to be done in a legal manner. Any other approach has a negative impact
- Once in a legal pitching posture, the pitcher removes one of his or her hands from the ball, unless he or she is making an actual pitch or attempting to throw to a base.
- This also includes a pitcher who comes to a predetermined position on the rubber and then breaks his hands without stepping off
- When the pitcher’s hand or glove comes into contact with the rubber, the ball may slide or fall out of his hand or glove, either unintentionally or purposely. This is what transpired in the scene from 42 that was previously stated
- The pitcher throws when the catcher is not in the catcher’s box, despite the fact that he has given up an intentional base on balls.
- A dinosaur in many levels of baseball, with intentional walks now being mandatory at all levels of professional baseball (although it is still feasible in some independent leagues), as well as at the collegiate, high school, and most youth baseball organizations.
- The pitcher throws the ball from a predetermined place without coming to a complete halt.
Did you take in all I said? If this is not the case, it is not a problem. It might be overwhelming to take it all in. According to the same umpire we spoke with, there are some sorts of balks that we see more frequently than others. In particular, he pointed out that the numbers 1, 2, and 13 are the most frequently used, particularly at the professional level, while noting that the numbers 4, 9, 10, and 11 are frequently encountered in youth baseball. An umpire will only call a balk on a pitcher if he or she causes a delay in the game (see 8).
How Often Do Balks Happen?
By any measure, balks aren’t the most prevalent of all possible plays. According to data from Baseball Reference, 153 balks were called in 4,858 games in 2019, for a rate of one per 31.75 games. In other words, during the course of the 162-game season in 2019, each Major League Baseball club made an average of around five errors. Balks have been extremely infrequent in baseball history, with the exception of one particularly bizarre season (which will be discussed more below). Since 1950, when the balk rule in Major League Baseball developed into what is basically its current form, clubs have averaged 4-8 balks each season in the majority of seasons.
Why Do We Have a Balk Rule? When Did It Originate?
By any measure, balks aren’t the most prevalent of all plays. A total of 153 balks were called across 4,858 games in 2019, for an average of one per 31.75 games in the league, according to figures from Baseball Reference. In other words, during the course of the 162-game MLB season in 2019, each MLB club made an average of around five errors. Balks have been extremely infrequent in baseball history, with the exception of one particularly bizarre season (more on that later). Since 1950, when the balk rule in Major League Baseball developed into what is basically its current form, clubs have averaged 4-8 balks each season in the majority of years.
Definition of a Balk in Baseball
Donald Miralle, courtesy of Canva.com Major League Baseball’s definition of a balk is as follows: “A balk is an unlawful act committed by a pitcher when one or more runners are on base.” In order to prevent a pitcher from fooling the baserunners, the regulation was put in place.”
- Remember how I described one really bizarre year? As a result of increased enforcement of the one-second pause rule in 1988, the Major League Baseball (MLB) recorded an absurd 924 balks in a single season, far outpacing the second-place single-season total of 407
- The Oakland A’s balked 76 times (nearly half the 2020 MLB total), with A’s pitcher Dave Stewart leading the way with 16. The rule was subsequently repealed the following year. Pitcher Charlie Hough was charged for nine balks in a spring training game in 1988, including seven in one inning, a foreshadowing of the so-called “Year of the Balk.” The record for the most balks committed by a pitcher in a regular-season game is five, which was achieved on May 4, 1963, by Milwaukee Braves pitcher Bob Shaw against the Chicago Cubs. At one point during the game, Shaw intentionally walked Hall of Famer Billy Williams before committing three consecutive balks, allowing Williams to score. In that game, the National League was enforcing balk laws more strictly, which was only in effect for a limited period lasting less than half of the season
- Hall of Famer Steve Carlton holds the record for the most balks committed in his career, with 90 in his career
- Since 1914, there have been at least 22 walk-off balks, sometimes known as “balk-offs,” in the history of the Major Leagues. The most recent instance came on August 19, 2018, when the Mariners defeated the Dodgers in the eleventh inning as a result of a Dylan Floro balk.
A fast pitch is a pitch that is thrown before the hitter has a chance to get into the batter’s box and swing at the ball. A rapid pitch results in a ball when there are no runners on base. The throwing of a fast pitch is called a balk when there are runners on base, and all runners are moved up one base.
What Is an Illegal Pitch in Baseball?
An unlawful pitch, according to Major League Baseball, is defined as follows: “(1) a pitch delivered to the batter when the pitcher’s pivot foot is not in touch with the pitcher’s plate; (2) a return pitch delivered quickly.” A balk is a pitch that is illegally thrown when runners are on base.
What Is the Catcher’s Box?
This is the area behind home plate, right in front of the umpire, in which a catcher is required to remain until the ball has been released from the pitcher’s hand. Any pitch delivered to the catcher’s box when he or she is not present is called a balk, and all runners are moved up one base as a result.
Can a Pitcher Fake a Throw to First Base?
A pitcher can fake a throw to first base as long as he takes the necessary steps off the rubber to make the throw. In the event that a pitcher attempts to throw to first base while he or she is engaged to the rubber, the pitcher will be called for a strikeout.
Can a Pitcher Fake a Throw to Second Base?
It is OK for pitchers to fake a throw to second base if they take a stride directly toward the base with their free foot after releasing the ball. In the case of a balk, a pitcher who feints a throw to second base but does not take a step toward the base will be called for the error.
Can a Pitcher Fake a Throw to Third Base?
A pitcher who is engrossed with the rubber will not be able to fake a throw to third base. Once the pitcher takes a stride toward third base, he must toss the ball to the base in order to avoid a balk from occurring. As a result, pitchers are prevented from impersonating a throw to third base and then picking off an unwary runner at first base.
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Balk – BR Bullpen
Abalki is defined as “an unlawful conduct by the pitcher with a runner or runners on base, entitling all runners to advance one base,” according to baseball regulations. The balk rule is intended to maintain a healthy balance between runners’ attempts to steal bases and the defense’s efforts to retire them. The lack of strict enforcement of the balk rule from the 1930s to the 1950s resulted in a significant decrease in base stealing attempts. As a result of more stringent regulation in 1988, the season became known as the “Year of the Balk.” There are 13 possible acts that constitute a balk under the balk rule (8.05 of the Major League Baseball rules), making the regulation difficult and technical to understand.
A pitcher may be charged with a balk if he does any of the following:
- Starts his throwing action but does not complete it
- Fakes a throw to first base while standing on the rubber
- Throws to a base but not walking directly toward that base while standing on the rubber
- And Unless a runner is going toward that base, the pitcher throws or fakes a throw to an unoccupied base while standing on the rubber
- Makes an unlawful pitch, including a rapid pitch, without permission
- Pitches that are not directed at the hitter
- When a pitcher performs any component of his throwing motion without touching the pitching rubber
- It unnecessarily slows down the game
- Without the ball, he or she stands on or astride the pitching rubber
- Once the windup or set position has been achieved, one hand is removed from the ball, unless when making a pitch or throwing to a base
- Whilst still standing on the throwing rubber, the ball is dropped Pitches are thrown while the catcher is not in the catcher’s box
- Pitches from a predetermined point without coming to a complete halt
It should be emphasized that if a ball is placed in play on a pitch that is otherwise ruled a balk, the balk call will only be upheld if the batter and all baserunners do not advance at least one base as a result of the hit ball, which is unlikely to happen. Upon finding this to be true, the balk call is overturned and the outcomes of the game are upheld. Moreover, this is true even if one or more of the attacking players are eliminated prior to reaching the designated scoring position. Using the above scenario, the pitcher commits a balk, but the batter gets the ball safely to second base; the runner reaches second base but is thrown out at third base.
As an alternative, if the hitter put the ball in play and the runner was pushed out at second base, the play would be erased and the balk call would be allowed to stand, with the runner now on second base and the batter remaining at bat, with no balls or strikes being added to the count.
When the Major League Baseball Rule Committee announced in 2012 that it was considering changing the rule to make a move that had previously been legal illegal, the committee included the infamous “fake to third and throw to first” play, which is only successful once in a blue moon and is generally considered a waste of time for everyone involved, among other things.
This is perfectly lawful.” The Rules Committee suggested to make this unlawful unless the pitcher first walks off the pitching rubber before attempting to throw (which would make the move useless as an attempt to deceive the runner).
It was implemented in 2013, and it made the fake throw to third and throw to first play a callable balk.
- It should be emphasized that if a ball is placed in play on a pitch that is otherwise ruled a balk, the balk call will only be upheld if the batter and all baserunners do not advance at least one base as a result of the hit ball, which is unlikely to occur. If this is the case, the balk call is overturned, and the outcomes of the game are upheld as correct. If one or more of the attacking players are knocked out before reaching the requisite base, the game is still a winner. Using the above scenario, the pitcher commits a balk, but the batter gets the ball safely to second base
- The runner advances to third base, but is thrown out by the defense. As a result of both the batter and the runner advancing at least one base, the balk is nullified
- The fact that the runner was thrown out later in the game is immaterial. As an alternative, if the hitter put the ball in play and the runner was pushed out at second base, the play would be erased and the balk call would be allowed to stand, with the runner now on second base and the batter continuing at bat, with no balls or strikes having been added to the count. When a balk is committed with no runner on base, a ball is called, even though no pitch is delivered to the batter. When the Major League Baseball Rule Committee announced in 2012 that it was considering changing the rule to make a move that had previously been legal illegal, the committee included the infamous “fake to third and throw to first” play, which is only successful once in a blue moon and is generally considered a waste of time for everyone involved, in its consideration. Invariably, whenever the play is tried on a road trip, the home crowd will chant “balk,” yet the play was explicitly permitted by Rule 8.05: “When there are runners on first and third, it is conceivable for the pitcher to walk toward third base without throwing, only to bluff the runner back to third
- Then, when the runner on first starts for second, the pitcher may pivot and step toward first base and throw to first base to end the game. Obviously, this is permitted.” If the pitcher does not initially step off the pitching rubber, the Rules Committee proposes that it be made illegal (which would make the move useless as an attempt to deceive the runner). The rule change was implemented in 2013, and it classified the fake throw to third and throw to first plays as a callable balk.
6.02 Pitcher Illegal Action
(a) Refuses to participate There is a balk when there is a runner or if there are multiple runners when:(1) the pitcher, when touching his plate, makes any move naturally connected with his pitch and fails to execute such delivery; and (2) the pitcher fails to deliver his pitch in accordance with Rule 6.02. (a) (1) An observation: If a left-handed or right-handed pitcher swings his free foot over the rear edge of the pitcher’s rubber, he is compelled to pitch to the batter, with the exception of throwing to second base on a pick-off attempt.
The act of a pitcher turning or spinning off of his free foot without actually stepping, or turning his body and throwing before actually stepping, is referred to as balking.
Balk occurs when a pitcher goes toward third base without throwing, solely to bluff a runner back to third, and then turns and steps toward and throws to first base when the runner on first starts for second, resulting in the runner on first starting for second.
The pitcher throws or feints a throw to an unoccupied base, except for the purpose of making a play, if the pitcher is touching his plate;Rule 6.02 (a)(4) Comment:When determining whether the pitcher throws or feints a throw to an unoccupied base for the purpose of making a play, the umpire should consider whether a runner on the previous base demonstrates or otherwise creates an impression of his intent to advance to such unoccupied base.
- (5) The pitcher throws an unlawful pitch in violation of Rule 6.02.
- A fast pitch is defined as one that is given before the hitter has a reasonable chance of being established in the batter’s box.
- The rapid pitch is extremely hazardous and should not be allowed to continue.
- If a pitcher is expelled from the game according to Rule 6.02(c)(8) for continuing to delay the game, the penalty set out in Rule 6.02 (a)(8) shall also be applied to the pitcher.
(9) The pitcher, while not in possession of the ball, stands on or astride the pitcher’s plate, or while off the plate, he feints a pitch; (10) The pitcher, after assuming a legal pitching position, removes one hand from the ball other than in the course of making an actual pitch or throwing to a base; (11) The pitcher, while touching his plate, accidentally or intentionally allows the ball to slip or fall out of his hand or glove; (12) The pitcher, while giving PENALTY: The ball is dead, and each runner is free to advance one base without the risk of being tagged out, unless the batter reaches first on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter, or any other means, and all other runners have advanced at least one base, in which case the play continues without regard to the balk and the batter is not tagged out.
- THE APPROVED RULING: In the event that a pitcher balks and throws wild, either to a base or to home plate, a runner or runners may advance beyond the base to which he or she is entitled at his or her own peril.
- Rule 6.02(a) Comment:Umpires should keep in mind that the goal of the balk rule is to prohibit the pitcher from purposefully fooling the base runner in order to advance the ball.
- However, there are certain important considerations to keep in mind: The act of straddling the pitcher’s rubber while holding the ball is to be viewed as an attempt to mislead and is therefore deemed a balk.
- Please understand that this is not intended as a throw to an unoccupied base.
- 6.02 of the Rules of Civil Procedure (b) A word of caution: An uncaught ball that falls out of the pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line is referred to be a ball; otherwise, it is known as an uncaught pitch.
- (c) Pitching Prohibitions are in effect.
- Before contacting the ball or the pitcher’s plate, the pitcher must make a distinct motion with his pitching hand, wiping the fingers clean.
- PENALTY: If the pitcher fails to comply with this section of the regulation, the ball will be removed from play and the umpires will give a warning to the pitcher immediately.
- Nonetheless, if the pitch is delivered and a batter advances to first base on a hit, an error, a hit batsman, or any other means, and no other runner is thrown out before reaching at least one base, the action must continue without regard to the violation.
(2) use his hand or glove to expectorate on the ball; (3) rub the ball against his glove, his body or clothes; (4) apply a foreign material of any sort to the ball; (5) deface the ball in any way; or (6) deliver a ball that has been changed in the manner prescribed by Rule 6.02 (c) (2) through (5), often known as the “shine” ball, “spit” ball, “mud” ball, or “emery” ball, are the balls used in the game.
- It is permissible for the pitcher to massage the ball between his bare hands.
- 6.02 of the Rules of Civil Procedure (c) Seventh, the pitcher is not permitted to use any object as a grip on any hand, any finger, or either wrist (e.g., Band-Aid, tape, Super Glue, bracelet, etc.).
- (8) Delay the game by intentionally tossing the ball to players other than the catcher when the hitter is in position, unless the ball is being thrown in an attempt to retire a runner.
- (9) Pitch at the Batter with Intention.
- If the umpire determines that the circumstances justify it, both sides may be formally “warned” prior to the game or at any moment during the game, depending on the circumstances.
- (c) (9).
- If he persists, he will be ejected from the club.
It should be criticized by everyone, and it already has been.
(d) Sanctions: In the event of a violation of any portion of subsections (c) (2) through (7): (1) The pitcher shall be dismissed from the game immediately and shall be automatically suspended from further participation.
(2) If a play is called after a violation has been called by the umpire, the manager of the team at bat may notify the umpire-in-chief that he or she has decided to accept the call.
In contrast, if the batter reaches first base as a result of a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman (or any combination thereof), and no other runner is put out before advancing at least one base, the play must continue without regard to the infraction.
The umpire in chief shall call an automatic ball and, if there are any baserunners on base, a balk if the manager of the team at bat does not chose to accept the play.
In the case of a pitcher who violates either Rule 6.02 (c)(2) or Rule 6.02 (c)(3) and, in the opinion of the umpire, did not intend to alter, by his act, the characteristics of a pitched ball; the umpire may, in his discretion, warn the pitcher in lieu of applying the penalty set forth for violations of Rules 6.02 (c)(2) through 6.02(c)(5) (6).
The ball is in play if it hits the rosin bag at any point during the game, according to Rule 6.02(d).
The rosin bag may be used by a pitcher for the purpose of applying rosin to his or her bare hand or hands.
The pitcher and any other player are not authorized to dust the ball with the rosin bag, nor are they permitted to apply rosin from the bag to his glove or dust any part of his uniform with the rosin bag. The pitcher and any other player are also not permitted to dust the ball with the rosin bag.
At Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday, April 25, 2021, the Cardinals and the Reds avoided a disaster that might have been catastrophic for the game. Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals’ starting pitcher, spent the whole day hitting the margins of the zone. Was this article of assistance?