A balk is an illegal move made by or related to the pitcher. Balks result in a dead ball and all baserunners (not including the batter) advancing one base. Balks are only called when there are one or more runners on base, otherwise, an illegal move by the pitcher would only result in a ball.
Pretending To Pitch
Commonly, balks are called when the pitcher pretends to pitch, but does not actually follow through with the pitch. The reason a pitcher might do this is to deceive the baserunners; he would pretend to pitch, then attempt to pick off a baserunner instead of delivering the pitch, thus catching the runner off-guard. Since this is an illegal method of deception, the rule of balks is implemented.
When Will A Pitcher Be Called For A Balk?
Common circumstances that constitute a balk are the following:
- With at least one foot on the pitcher's rubber, the pitcher makes a motion associated with his pitching delivery, but does not actually deliver the pitch.
- The pitcher pretends to throw to first or third base and does not actually complete the throw.
- The pitcher throws to a base without first taking a step in the direction of that base.
- While on the rubber, the pitcher drops the ball (even if it was an accident).
- The pitcher intentionally and unnecessarily delays the game.
- The pitcher throws what is known as a quick pitch. A quick pitch is when the pitcher delivers a pitch right after receiving the ball back or when the batter is not yet fully ready in the batter's box. A quick pitch also occurs when the pitcher does not take the required pause before delivering the pitch.
- The pitcher switches his pitching position from the set position to the windup position (or vice versa) without first stepping off the pitcher's rubber. We will learn more about the different pitching positions in future chapters.