In baseball, the pitcher is required to deliver the pitch in one continuous motion. If he fails to do this and hesitates in his wind up and delivery without a smooth movement, or as a distraction, he may be called on a balk. He may not raise either foot toward home plate unless he delivers the ball and this balk call usually occurs when a pitcher is trying to pick off or throw out a runner who is on base,This entitles the runners on base to gain one additional base, if a balk is called. The count remains the same as previous to the pitch. If a pitcher fails to step off the rubber in a pitch, and delivers the ball to a base, it is considered a balk. also. Some big league umpires are more strict than others,however a balk is usually pretty obvious. This may occur sometimes when a pitcher is nervous and new as a pitcher, or he may be tired and not in full control of his pitches.Any odd or unnecessary movements on the pitchers part, may be considered a balk. It is up to the managers to make the call for a substitute pitcher(relief pitcher) and he may then be relieved if it is thought that he has used up his energy. Most pitchers are considered in need of relief, if they have pitched more than 100 pitches or more, in most games. Some pitchers have more stamina and durability than others and may pitch much more and remain in an entire game. Usually after more than 100 pitches is when most balks may occur due to the strain on a pitcher and his ability to focus.
A balk is called when a pitcher deviates from his normal throwing motion or breaks a certain set of rules. Balks are only called when runners are on base because the penalty of a balk is the runners all advance one base.
Balks are typically called when a pitcher comes set, set meaning he has paused in his throwing motion just before he is set to deliver the pitch. Once a pitcher is set they can’t flinch, rotate their body sideways to look at the runner, etc. If they do a balk is called. If the pitcher hasn’t become set yet they can rotate and look over at the runner without penalty. A pitcher is usually not set when they are picking up the signs from the catcher.
A balk can also be called when a pitcher attempts to pickoff a runner but their front foot has crossed their back leg. This is more common when a left handed pitcher is on the mound. Lefty’s also try to deceive the runner by appearing to go to the plate but then throw over to first base. Their front foot will usually land somewhere between first base and home plate.
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