A balk is when a pitcher makes a move that is not allowed during the time that he is still touching the mound when there are opposing players on the field. The official MLB balk rules can be found in Rule 8.05.
The pitcher’s movements are closely watched and if one of his movements is deemed to be an illegal balk then the opposing players will be granted an additional base and any pitch will be disqualified. Another rule states that the pitcher has to have a shoe in contact with the pitcher’s plate. However, if there their foot is not touching the pitchers plate then the pitcher has the right to throw the baseball to any area of the field whenever he wishes. There is also another rule that if the pitcher does not have the ball on his person then he is not able to come into contact with the pitcher’s plated. The reason for this rule is so that the opposing team is not fooled into believing that they can take a lead off a base.
When the pitcher is getting ready to throw the ball they must stop their movements and come “set”. This is one of the most common mistakes pitchers make when they are called for a balk, especially in youth leagues. In order to be in compliance with this rule, a pitcher must come to a rest with their glove hand and pitching hand together.
Of course there are many pitchers who try to find ways to go around this, and there is a constant struggle between them and the umpires.
When there is a member of the opposite team occupying a base then the pitcher has the right to try and deceive the runner that they are going to throw the ball. Thus, they are allowed to touch the pitcher’s mound and then make a false throw. That being said he does not have the right to do a pretend to deliver the baseball to an area of the field that does not have an opponent on it.
If the opponent is not ready to receive the delivery of the ball then it is not allowed for the pitcher to try and throw it past him. If this happens and there are opponents in the field then it will be determined as a balk and the opponents will be allowed to continue on to another base. If there are no opponents in the field then it will be deemed a ball.
The Ball Descends To The Ground
If the pitcher loses contact with the baseball and it descends to the floor then it will be penalized as a balk for the batter.
A Pitcher Shuffling His Shoes
When the pitcher attempts to deliver the baseball to one of the bases it is required that he move in the general direction of the base with his foot that is forward or remove his two feet from the pitcher’s mound.
Behind home plate is an area called the catcher’s box. While the pitchers delivers a pitch the catcher must be inside this box or it should be ruled a balk.