September 27, 2020

What Happens After a Balk? (MLB/OBR Rules)

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What Happens After a Balk? (MLB/OBR Rules)



So if there’s a runner on first, 2-2 count, wild pitch, and the runner is thrown out at third. He’s out, and the count is still 2-2? Also, same scenario, but this time the batter swings and misses at the wild pitch. Runner is out, but not the batter? Or is the balk enforced?

Dave Johnson

Both your scenarios have the same result, assuming less than 2 outs which seems to be implied: the balk is enforced, the runner advanced beyond the base to which he was entitled at his own risk and was legally put out, the batter continues his at-bat with a 2-2 count. When the balk is enforced, there is no pitch to the batter so it doesn’t matter whether he swings or not.

If there were already 2 out, then it would be a little different: if the batter does not swing, the inning ends on the out at 3B and the same batter will lead off the next inning (he did not complete his at-bat as the count is still 2-2).

If he does swing and miss with 2 outs, he can now run to 1B on the uncaught 3rd strike and I have to admit I’m not entirely sure in every scenario: if he runs and reaches 1B before the out is made at 3B then obviously he has advanced and the balk is ignored. if he runs and reaches 1B after the out at 3B, I’m pretty sure he is still considered to have reached 1B (on fielder’s choice perhaps?), and the balk is ignored. thus in both of those cases, his at-bat is complete, and the next hitter will lead off the next inning. (but even here I could be wrong – maybe he can’t legally touch 1B after the 3rd out is recorded, so the balk would still be enforced?)

however, let’s say he doesn’t run at all, or runs part way and then stops when he see the play being made on R1… now what? he didn’t reach 1B, so is the balk enforced? or is he still presumed to have reached even though he didn’t? once he returns to the dugout, legally he’s out (an apparent 4th out?), but the batter can’t be out on a balk unless he advances to 1B first.

thankfully the whole situation is pretty rare, but if it happens and the hitter was, for example, the #9 hitter (batting .157) or the #1 hitter (with a crazy OBP), both OC and DC are going to have strong opinions on who ought to lead off the next inning.

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