Academy Courses

Unusual Ways a Pitcher May Balk

Dropping the Ball: [Official Rule 6.02(a)(11)]

If a pitcher bobbles or drops the ball while he is in contact with the rubber and the ball is in play it is a balk. This is true even if the pitcher is able to catch the ball before it touches the ground.

If the pitcher drops the ball while in his set position, it is a balk.

[Insider Report]

Ball Slips From Pitcher’s Hand – Balk

If a ball slips out of a pitcher’s hand, is it a balk or simply a wild throw or pitch? This rare play occurred when the Phillies hosted the Dodgers, September 9, 2015. Read about this play and Rich Marazzi’s detailed analysis in this Insider Report.

Faking a Pitch: [Official Rule 6.02(a)(7)]

A pitcher may not fake a pitch while standing astride of the rubber. To be “astride” the rubber is to stand over the top of it with feet on either side, but not touching the rubber.

Removing Hand from Ball: [Official Rule 6.02(a)(10)]

Once the pitcher has joined his hands in either pitching position, he may not remove a hand from the ball other than in an actual pitch or throwing to a base.

Delaying the Game: [Official Rule 6.02(a)(8)]

Delay the game. The pitcher is not permitted to throw to fielders except as an attempt to put a runner out as this will be interpreted by the umpire as delaying the game.

Pitching Position: [Official Rule 5.07(a)(Comment)]

A pitcher is not permitted to change from one pitching position to the other without legally disengaging from the rubber. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must separate his hands if they had been joined.

Place the Rosin Bag into his Glove in an Attempt to Deceive the Runner: [Official Rule 6.02(c) Comment]

No player is permitted to apply rosin directly to the ball, a glove or any part of the uniform. A pitcher is not permitted to hold the rosin in his glove in an attempt to deceive the runner. This might happen when a team is attempting the hidden ball trick. Doing so is a balk.

The Hidden Ball Trick and the Balk

The hidden ball trick works when the defense can confuse the runner into thinking that the pitcher has the ball while in fact, it is in the glove of a fielder positioned near a runner.

It’s important that the pitcher and the fielder who is executing the trick be on the same page. If the ball is alive and in play when the fielder attempts to tag the runner, the pitcher cannot be on or astride the rubber per rule 8.05 (i). If he is, a balk should be called. To be astride the rubber means the pitcher is straddling the rubber with one foot in front and one foot in back. The pitcher can be anywhere on the 18-foot diameter dirt circle of the mound or on the grass without penalty.

[Insider Report]

Hidden Ball Trick

The hidden ball trick is rare because of the danger of a balk being called in the process.

Illegal Pitch, Quick Pitch: [Official Rule 6.02(a)(5)]

A pitcher may not make an illegal pitch like a “quick pitch.” Pitching before the batter is ready is interpreted as deception. If a pitcher steps off the rubber and then quickly steps back on and throws a pitch before the batter is set in the batter’s box, the umpire should call a balk. 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.

A quick pitch is an illegal pitch. It is dangerous and is not permitted.

[Insider Report]

Carrasco Delivers an Illegal Pitch

Watch as Indians’ pitcher, Carlos Carrasco, delivers an illegal pitch against the Mariners on June 8, 2016. The umpires got the call right. Read this Insider Report and learn the nuances of an illegal pitch.

Quick Pitch: Smart but Dangerous

Tempers flared when the Phillies hosted the Mets August 25, 2015 and the Mets’ Hansel Robles delivered a quick pitch to Darin Ruf. Rich Marazzi breaks down the quick pitch rule in this excellent Insider Report.