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Guest Chet Walker

Pitcher throws to second with runner stealing

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Guest Chet Walker

Runner on first.  Right handed pitcher anticipating a stolen base comes set, raises his left leg and turns throwing to second.  Legal?

My view is that if the runner bluffs or attempts to seal the play is legal as a pitcher is allowed to to throw to an unoccupied base if making a play on a base runner.  If the runner only takes a secondary lead it is a balk.

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From the 2018 Minor League Baseball Umpire Manual (section 6.22, p. 104):

Play 1:  Runners on first and second, pitcher in set position. Runner breaks for third base and pitcher throws to third base.

Ruling 1:  Legal play.

Play 2:  Runners on first and second, pitcher in set position. Runner bluffs going to third base and pitcher throws to third base. However, runner did not go.

Ruling 2:  Balk under Official Baseball Rule 6.02(a)(4).

The key to understanding the above two plays is for the umpire to use good judgment in deciding whether or not the runner on the previous base demonstrates or otherwise creates an impression of his intent to advance to such unoccupied base...

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Add this from the OBR rule book:

 

Rule 6.02 (a )(4) Comment: When determining whether the
pitcher throws or feints a throw to an unoccupied base for the
purpose of making a play, the umpire should consider whether
a runner on the previous base demonstrates or otherwise creates
an impression of his intent to advance to such unoccupied
base.

 

For FED, event a feint to the next base makes the throw to that base legal,  At the level most of us do, I would (generally) interpret "demonstrates or otherwise creates an impression" as including many (most?) feints.

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NFHS

Rule 6 Pitching

SECTION 2 INFRACTIONS BY PITCHER

ART. 4 . . . Balk. If there is a runner or runners, any of the following acts by a pitcher while he is touching the pitcher’s plate is a balk:

b. failing to step with the non-pivot foot directly toward a base (occupied or unoccupied) when throwing or feinting there in an attempt to put out, or drive back a runner; or throwing or feinting to any unoccupied base when it is not an attempt to put out or drive back a runner;

 

As described, I would say it is an attempt to drive back a runner which is legal, as long as the mechanics are legal.  Like noumpere said, I’d want to make sure something from that runner indicated he is advancing though.  If there is no indication then it’s a balk.

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Guest Guest

So in a situation with a fast runner on 1b and a weak armed C, where everyone in the ballpark knows the runner is going to steal on the first pitch (and also knows there's no way to throw him out) a smart coach would just have his RHP make a move to 2B right? The worst case scenario is that the runner isnt stealing and it's called a balk. Most of the time he will be stealing and the P can just step to 2nd, hold on to the ball, and the runner will be hung out to dry. 

Actually surprising I've never seen or heard of this happening. 

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On 8/3/2019 at 9:11 PM, Guest Guest said:

So in a situation with a fast runner on 1b and a weak armed C, where everyone in the ballpark knows the runner is going to steal on the first pitch (and also knows there's no way to throw him out) a smart coach would just have his RHP make a move to 2B right? The worst case scenario is that the runner isnt stealing and it's called a balk. Most of the time he will be stealing and the P can just step to 2nd, hold on to the ball, and the runner will be hung out to dry. 

Actually surprising I've never seen or heard of this happening. 

It’s a gamble, but if the offense has shown a propensity to run on first pitch, like you say, why not take a shot?  Usually, the only time you see this move is when a runner takes off while the pitcher is still set. He can then step and throw ahead of the runner. 9 times out of ten, when this happens you’re gonna hear crap from the offense claiming it’s s balk. 

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11 hours ago, Richvee said:

It’s a gamble, but if the offense has shown a propensity to run on first pitch, like you say, why not take a shot?  Usually, the only time you see this move is when a runner takes off while the pitcher is still set. He can then step and throw ahead of the runner. 9 times out of ten, when this happens you’re gonna hear crap from the offense claiming it’s s balk. 

Could also have your pitcher slow down his motion so he doesn't have to commit until he knows if the runner is running or not. That being said, most ages where this would be viable, pitchers probably aren't good enough to do this, especially to also make it beneficial.

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2 hours ago, Biscuit said:

Could also have your pitcher slow down his motion so he doesn't have to commit until he knows if the runner is running or not. That being said, most ages where this would be viable, pitchers probably aren't good enough to do this, especially to also make it beneficial.

And they'd probably air-mail the ball to center field, causing the runner to take 3B on the error.

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