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Old Sun Oct 23, 2022, 10:19am
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Pitcher Throwing to Unoccupied Base

I think with the explosion of Travel Ball in the last 10-15 years especially at the really young ages where a walk, hit or error are triples because they quickly steal second steal third - one line of defense is the "Flamingo/Spaghetti/Sit and sell" move with a runner at second.

Pitcher lifts leg as if going to home and spins - if runner goes when leg lifts have a pickoff more times than not -

What I am seeing often through the years and it is NOT being called a balk under the provision of "making a play on a runner" is when the P lifts his leg the runner begins to advance, the P from his "balance point" just steps to 3B and throws - where for years I was always under the impression that the P must step toward 2B or some direction back of the rubber (doesnt have to throw) but that simply stepping to 3B would be a balk for throwing to unoccupied base.

I guess the differentiation or timing for me would seem to be if the runner leaves before the P starts his motion, like for instance if he is guessing the P has stopped his "looks" back to 2B and is attempting a great jump timing steal - that in this case if runner takes off before P has done anything at that point he could throw to 3B w/out stepping off if in fact runner has taken off (and is not faking a steal)

But I see nothing anywhere about the explanation of timing as it relates to when runner leaves (pre or post P starting motion) as to whether making a play on that runner at base ahead is balk or not.

I think about two scenarios in particular that are relatable to what is not being called a balk runner going 2 to 3 when P lifts leg.

1. Lefty Pitcher - Often runners will go on "first movement by the pitcher" and you see the P complete the throw to 1B and the 1B then throw to SS in a game of "can we play catch" - however looking at the 2nd to 3rd example couldnt a lefty lift high to balance point if runner goes upon first movement (lifting leg) just complete a spin towards 2B and make a play on the runner?

2. RH pitcher - known running situation like 3-2 2 out - again P will lift high to balance point, if he hears "runner" he spins the flamingo and makes play on stealing runner - if not he throws pitch OR he can just "guess" and take the balk knowing as a defense you would be making a play at first anyway with runner on the move - the only difference is potentially putting a risk of runner at 2b is if runner

Coaching 30 years - I had lived under the impression forever that throwing to an unoccupied base without stepping off was a balk - but I am seeing it more and more now on that 2nd to 3rd attempted steal - and has got me thinking about trying to utilize that concept in some obvious running situations going 1 to 2
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Old Sun Oct 23, 2022, 11:14am
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Originally Posted by parrothead View Post

Coaching 30 years - I had lived under the impression forever that throwing to an unoccupied base without stepping off was a balk 2
Your impression was incomplete.

It's a balk to throw to an unoccupied base EXCEPT FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING A PLAY.

That last part is often not recognized.
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