What Is a Balk?

A balk is an illegal move by a pitcher during a baseball game that results in an automatic advancement of runners. It’s considered a form of cheating since it gives the pitcher an unfair advantage over the batter. The pitcher must adhere to a strict set of rules while pitching, and any deviation from these rules can result in a balk.

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There are 13 ways a pitcher can balk, which are outlined by Major League Baseball’s Official Baseball Rules. These rules are in place to ensure that the game is fair and that pitchers are not able to gain an unfair advantage over the batter.

The 13 Ways a Pitcher Can Balk

1. Failing to Come to a Complete Stop Before Pitching

Under MLB rules, a pitcher must come to a complete stop before releasing a pitch. If the pitcher does not come to a complete stop, it is considered a balk.

2. Fake To Third Base

If a pitcher gives the appearance of pitching to third base, even though he is not actually doing so, it is considered a balk. This is also known as a “fake-to-third” move.

3. Fake To Home Plate

Similar to the “fake-to-third” move, a “fake-to-home” move is also considered a balk. This occurs when a pitcher gives the appearance of pitching to home plate, even though he is not actually doing so.

4. Throwing To a Base Without A Runner Present

If a pitcher throws to a base without a runner present, it is considered a balk. A pitcher must have a runner on the base in order to legally throw to that base.

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5. Throwing to an Occupied Base

If a pitcher throws to a base that is already occupied by a runner, it is considered a balk. This is also known as a “double-play” move.

6. Throwing to an Unoccupied Base

If a pitcher throws to a base that is not occupied by a runner, it is considered a balk. This is also known as a “pick-off” move.

7. Throwing to a Base After a Fake Pick-off Move

If a pitcher makes a fake pick-off move, and then throws to a base, it is considered a balk. This is also known as a “fake-pick-off” move.

8. Throwing to an Unoccupied Base After Relocating the Pitcher’s Plate

If a pitcher relocates the pitcher’s plate, and then throws to an unoccupied base, it is considered a balk. This is also known as a “quick-pitch” move.

9. Throwing to an Unoccupied Base After a Fake-to-Third Move

If a pitcher makes a fake-to-third move, and then throws to an unoccupied base, it is considered a balk. This is also known as a “fake-to-third-and-pick-off” move.

10. Changing Arm Motion in the Middle of a Pitch

If a pitcher changes his arm motion in the middle of a pitch, it is considered a balk. This is also known as a “quick-pitch” move.

11. Pitching Without a Glove

If a pitcher pitches without a glove, it is considered a balk. A pitcher must have a glove on his hand while pitching.

12. Pitching Without Both Feet on the Rubber

If a pitcher pitches without both feet on the rubber, it is considered a balk. A pitcher must keep both feet on the rubber while pitching.

13. Stopping in the Middle of a Pitch

If a pitcher stops in the middle of a pitch, it is considered a balk. A pitcher must keep the ball in continuous motion until it reaches the batter.

Conclusion

A balk is an illegal move by a pitcher during a baseball game that results in an automatic advancement of runners. There are 13 ways a pitcher can balk, and each of these is outlined by Major League Baseball’s Official Baseball Rules. These rules are in place to ensure that the game is fair and that pitchers are not able to gain an unfair advantage over the batter.