The Ultimate Guide to What is a Balk in Baseball?

It can be confusing to use the term balk for some baseball fans. This is because anyone who has witnessed a baseball match might have heard the word balk from the television broadcasters or people around them. It happens when the umpire raises his hands and makes a gesture toward the pitcher.

So, what is a balk? When a pitcher fakes a pitch or throws to misguide the batter in the field it is an illegal action. It is not noticeable by many but the umpire notices it and considers it a balk. It is considered an illegal action by the pitcher and as a penalty, to the pitcher, each baserunner advances their base. This makes a balk only possible when there is at least one baserunner.

What Happens if a Balk Takes Place?

It is a quite complicated step for the pitcher because he can most likely get a disadvantage from this motion. What happens if a balk takes place? Balk allows the baserunner present on bases to advance their respective bases. It can be lucky for the defensive team if they have a baserunner on the third base because he can score a run by heading towards home plate.

How Often Do Balks Take Place in Major League Baseball?

Balks are rare that is why not everyone knows about them. How often do balks take place in Major League Baseball? Balks are rare according to data from 2019. 153 games had balks out of 4858 games.

Can You Argue a Balk?

It can be risky to say something to the umpire once your balk is caught. Can you argue a balk? One must not argue a balk because a pitcher can’t do anything but accept the balk as it is because he can’t change the decision. The least he can do is disagree with the umpire. It is also directed to be careful while arguing with the umpire because he can eject you also for that matter.

The MLB Balk Rule in Greater Detail:

The pitchers and fielders must know the rules regarding balk. What is the MLB Balk rule in greater detail? Let’s take a look at them.

  • If the pitcher sees the base is unoccupied, he can’t fake a throw on it because this pick-off will result in a balk. 
  • Secondly, if a pitcher mischievously tries to throw a pitch when the batter is not ready. 
  • Lastly, it can happen if the pitcher has mistakenly left the ball while it’s on the mound.

For Right-Hand Pitchers:

There are different sets of rules and guidelines for right-hand pitchers as well as for lefty pitchers. Let’s take a look at them.

  • The right-hand pitcher should throw the base while stepping behind the pitching rubber with her right foot. 
  • One must be in a pitching position to attempt to do a pick-off so that the batter knows the next move of the pitcher. 
  • A pitcher must not suddenly change his position to do a pick-off.

For Lefty Pitchers:

  • For lefty pitchers, their right foot must point towards the area where the ball will go. For instance, if the pitcher is throwing the ball toward the first base, then their foot must be directed towards the first base. There is a 45 imaginary angle that cannot be passed if you decide to throw a first. 
  • To attempt a quick pickoff, move, a pitcher can step off the pitcher rubber with their left foot first.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you describe a balk in baseball?

A balk occurs when a pitcher performs an illegal activity in which he fakes a throw of the ball to misguide the batter which results in the men on base being rewarded with the next base.

Why is it called a balk?

According to history, first, the home of the San Francisco Giants was notorious because of the gusty winds so the pitcher of giants STU Miller was blown away by the wind and the umpire called it a bulk.

How many ways a pitcher can balk?

There are 13 ways in which a pitcher can balk.

The Bottom Line on Balk in Baseball

To conclude the above writings, a balk is an illegal act done by the pitcher which provides the baserunner to advance their bases. It occurs rarely which is why not many people know about it. People do not notice it but the umpire notices it easily.

It results in a penalty for the pitchers. There are different rules for right-hand pitchers and lefty pitchers, such as a right-handed pitcher must not suddenly change his position to do a quick pickoff while the lefty pitcher can step off the pitcher rubber with their left foot first.

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