New balk rule in baseball

Suppose there are runners on first and third with nobody out. Pitcher has already used up his two throws to first. Runner breaks for second. Pitcher throws to the first baseman who is about to throw to second, but the runner on third breaks for home. First baseman throws to the catcher who tags out the runner trying to score. The other runner reaches second safely. Is this a balk because they didn’t didn’t get the runner on first out, or is any out sufficient to cancel the balk?

They are limiting how many times a pitcher can throw to a base?

By rule a balk is pitcher action that is deceitful, either to a runner or batter. Why does this depend on whether or not the runner on first gets put out? And incidently, a balk is an immediate dead ball so were it a balk, the play would immediately end and not continue to play out as you describe.

Effectively, yes. Part of the new pitch clock rule includes a rule that states that a pitcher can only step off the rubber twice per plate appearance; throwing to a base is an action which requires the pitcher to step off the rubber.

Stepping off the rubber for a third time (or additional subsequent times) during a plate appearance is now a balk, unless a runner is recorded as out during the play (i.e., picked off, or thrown out while attempting to steal), at which point it’s not a balk. So, if you’re going to throw over a third time, you better be quite sure you’re going to pick him off.

I thought that rule only included stepping off the rubber and not initiating a throw to a base. Like when the pitcher has to take time to reset.

Slight hijack: then can we have a rule where the batter can only step out of the box twice? After that it is an automatic strike?

The new rule is actually more strict. Batters can only step out of the box once. After that it’s an automatic strike.

If I’m interpreting your explanation of the rule correctly, couldn’t this - in theory, at least - lead to games where enough balls are called to allow half a dozen runs to score?

This seems like a solution in search of a problem. I don’t like many of these rule changes, but this seems like it’s actively working against the entire concept of baseball itself.

Oh no no no. Very much not true.

The balk, which is intended to keep pitchers from deceiving runners on base, can be called by umpires for more than a dozen reasons.

It’s the sort of thing that’s easily misunderstood though.

Trying to understand what constitutes a balk is tantamount to what makes a catch in the NFL.

The only thing more difficult to understand than the balk rule is batting out of order.

The third time the pitcher steps off the runner (during a single at bat) is a balk unless the pitcher picks a runner off who is put out. My question is does it count as putting the runner out if they put out a different runner. explains it as:

  • Pitchers are limited to two disengagements [from the rubber] (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per plate appearance. However, this limit is reset if a runner or runners advance during the plate appearance.
  • If a third pickoff attempt is made, the runner automatically advances one base if the pickoff attempt is not successful.

So my question is is the pickpff attempt successful if they retire a different runner. I can’t find the current official rules.

Even MLB’s website hasn’t updated its copy of the rulebook.

Hypothetically, yes, but in practice, I think that that’s extremely unlikely. If a pitcher is repeatedly committing balks, the manager is going to yank him, rather than letting him continue to surrender balls or runner advances.

My understanding is that this was instituted to keep the game moving along (along with the pitch clock, and the rule against batters repeatedly stepping out of the box). Repeated throws over to first slow the game down, are very rarely successful in picking off the runner (several cites I found indicate that the success rate is probably less than 5%), and do little to add any real action or interest to the game.

This site describes the rule as not a balk if the player is out or safe at home.

MLB Rule Changes 2023: Ghost Runner, Pitch Clocks & More.

The rule will also result in more stolen bases, which adds excitement.

Looks like pitch outs will be coming back into fashion.

I like the idea of pitchers working quickly and batters staying in the box, but that’s enough for one season. If it makes a clear difference, great. If not, then try other things like the pick-off nonsense. Or not.

Good point; one of the complaints that some fans (myself included) have about the modern game is that stolen bases have become relatively rare.

On PTI last week they were talking about how the spring training games are significantly shorter, as in 45 minutes shorter. They were both quite excited about all the changes, including the presumed increase in steals.

I don’t watch baseball but they got me excited for the changes. Almost enough to start a thread here asking the baseball fans what they thought, but not quite. I am curious, though. What do you guys think of the new rules?

I’m going to wait to reserve final judgment, as rule changes sometimes lead to unforeseen consequences, but if the pitch clock and limits on stepping off the rubber/stepping out of the box are making games move along that much more quickly, I’m generally in favor of it.

I’ve opined here many times about how the game has become too slow, with too much time passing in between actual action, due to all of the f***ing around, both by pitchers and batters. If the changes also make base-stealing attempts a bit more frequent, I think that’s a good thing, too.

Conceptually, I’m not opposed to removing the infield shift – if it were as easy to simply hit away from it as many fans seem to think it is, I think that most hitters would have figured out how to do so effectively by now. But, that’s one where I’m thinking there may wind up be some other defensive strategy which evolves to take its place.

I think it will take baseball back to where it was in the 80s, at least from a tempo and action perspective. I can’t wait.

I think casual baseball fans may come back if they know the game will be over in 2.5 hours and there will be stolen bases and more action.

The only thing I’m neutral about is the shift, and even that should have aesthetic benefits (hits looking like hits, outs looking like outs, fielders standing where they “ought” to stand).

Boston (I think) already tried moving an outfielder over to short second. But that gives up massive amounts of territory in the LF corner, so I wonder if it will be analytically sound. At the very least it should be closer to neutral than the infield shift, which just killed some hitters.

But those throws (or the fear of a throw) keep the runner honest. Won’t there be a ton of stolen bases and hit& run plays?