RHP Pick-Off move to 1st Base?

1,583 Views | 23 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by 03_Aggie
Crusaders41
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Had a coach in a 10U game tell me tonight that a right-handed pitcher does not have to disengage with the rubber on a pick-off move to 1st base.

Basically what his pitcher did was pick up his front foot and swing open to first base and throw over.

He said as long as he is gaining ground to first base with his lead foot it is legal. I have never seen this before and I've seen lots of baseball. The coach said the MLBers do it all the time.

The rule he quoted that allows for it is 8.01(c) - I've looked at the rule and it doesn't clear anything up for me.

I've searched YouTube for examples and can't find anything remotely close to what he said was allowable.

Those with more baseball knowledge than I - Please enlighten me....
Bregxit
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Step off or jump move. If the left leg moves first and the pitcher then goes to first, it's a balk. That swing move is a balk 110 out of 100 times.

Saw it called three times last weekend in our 9U tournament.
Tastybrisket10
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That move is legal for a LHP only and it's a judgement call on if their front foot is towards home plate or not. It's also controversial in the majors, I believe there is a minor league level this year trying a rule change that would force even lefties to disengage with the rubber on pickoffs. I would support the change - MLB level would benefit from more stolen bases...too hard to steal against lefties and calling balks is too judgement based...the common fan has no idea what a balk is.
Crusaders41
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Exactly what I thought - he must disengage with his pivot foot (right foot) first.

Appreciate the response.
bdgol07
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Umps will likely give some leeway as long as the right heel moves first or at worst, simultaneously, but it HAS to move.

We had a new kid on our select team and I played first. Right handed pitcher and he was a twin. Brother and him were both "pitchers" and brother was a lefty. He toed the rubber, I was holding the base runner on and he kicked, I thought to throw home, and all of a sudden the baseball comes screaming past my head. He brought his left leg up and spun around and nearly caught me square in the head. Needless to say, he never pitched in a game. He never understood why his brother could do that move and he couldn't and we couldn't trust him to not do it in a game. Stubborn little snot nosed 13yr old never did seem to learn or care
03_Aggie
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Bregxit said:

Step off or jump move. If the left leg moves first and the pitcher then goes to first, it's a balk. That swing move is a balk 110 out of 100 times.

Saw it called three times last weekend in our 9U tournament.


I think it's debatable to be honest. The rule is natural movement to the plate if I recall correctly.

If lifting your leg is considered a natural movement to the plate then lefties wouldn't be able to pick off to first the way they do and righties wouldn't be able to do it to third. Both of those moves are done by lifting the leg and throwing without disengaging the rubber.
Tastybrisket10
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Just curious - what does your league rulebook say? I wouldn't be surprised if they have rules that are different than MLB.
Bregxit
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03_Aggie said:

Bregxit said:

Step off or jump move. If the left leg moves first and the pitcher then goes to first, it's a balk. That swing move is a balk 110 out of 100 times.

Saw it called three times last weekend in our 9U tournament.


I think it's debatable to be honest. The rule is natural movement to the plate if I recall correctly.

If lifting your leg is considered a natural movement to the plate then lefties wouldn't be able to pick off to first the way they do and righties wouldn't be able to do it to third. Both of those moves are done by lifting the leg and throwing without disengaging the rubber.


I'm talking specifically about the RHP situation in the OP. A RHP can never lift his left (lead) leg and go to first.

Must be some internet article out there or somethinf because like I said earlier, I saw three kids go into their leg kick and then swing it around to first for a pickoff. One was so smooth it took me a second to register what had just happened lol. But rightly all three were immediately called balks.
03_Aggie
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Bregxit said:

03_Aggie said:

Bregxit said:

Step off or jump move. If the left leg moves first and the pitcher then goes to first, it's a balk. That swing move is a balk 110 out of 100 times.

Saw it called three times last weekend in our 9U tournament.


I think it's debatable to be honest. The rule is natural movement to the plate if I recall correctly.

If lifting your leg is considered a natural movement to the plate then lefties wouldn't be able to pick off to first the way they do and righties wouldn't be able to do it to third. Both of those moves are done by lifting the leg and throwing without disengaging the rubber.


I'm talking specifically about the RHP situation in the OP. A RHP can never lift his left (lead) leg and go to first.

Must be some internet article out there or somethinf because like I said earlier, I saw three kids go into their leg kick and then swing it around to first for a pickoff. One was so smooth it took me a second to register what had just happened lol. But rightly all three were immediately called balks.


Why can't a RHP lift their leg and go to first? I understand what you saw but what part of the rule prohibits it?

ETA: here is the rule from MLB:

Quote:

(2) The Set Position
Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher's plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop. From such Set Position he may deliver the ball to the batter, throw to a base or step backward off the pitcher's plate with his pivot foot. Before assuming Set Position, the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as "the stretch." But if he so elects, he shall come to Set Position before delivering the ball to the batter. After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.
Preparatory to coming to a set position, the pitcher shall have one hand on his side; from this position he shall go to his set position as defined in Rule 5.07(a)(2) without interruption and in one continuous motion.
The pitcher, following his stretch, must (a) hold the ball in both hands in front of his body and (b) come to a complete stop. This must be enforced. Umpires should watch this closely. Pitchers are constantly attempting to "beat the rule" in their efforts to hold runners on bases and in cases where the pitcher fails to make a complete "stop" called for in the rules, the umpire should immediately call a "Balk."
Bregxit
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https://content.mlb.com/documents/2/2/4/305750224/2019_Official_Baseball_Rules_FINAL_.pdf

Start on page 74.
03_Aggie
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So which portion are you relying on? An assumption that he's throwing before his lead foot contacts the ground which would constitute a step towards the base? Nothing in there expressly prohibits the movement.

Like I said it all centers on a determination on whether the action is considered starting their natural motion to the plate.
Bregxit
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03_Aggie said:

So which portion are you relying on? An assumption that he's throwing before his lead foot contacts the ground which would constitute a step towards the base? Nothing in there expressly prohibits the movement.

Like I said it all centers on a determination on whether the action is considered starting their natural motion to the plate.


Two parts:

1) Step moves require stepping directly toward the base. A RHP cannot step directly toward first base without crossing the 45 degree plane.

2) Simulating a pitch. A RHP that lifts his leg and then turns toward first inherently must move toward home plate first. Turning backward is specifically okayed only for pickoffs to second base.
03_Aggie
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Bregxit said:



Two parts:

1) Step moves require stepping directly toward the base. A RHP cannot step directly toward first base without crossing the 45 degree plane.

2) Simulating a pitch. A RHP that lifts his leg and then turns toward first inherently must move toward home plate first. Turning backward is specifically okayed only for pickoffs to second base.


That's why I say it's debatable. If the umpire determines the move starts their natural move to the plate then it's a balk. But driving your heal to the bag first would constitute a step toward the bag and can easily be done without any forward movement.

Even the mythical 45 degree plane would constitute a move towards home for a left hander going to first. That said, there is no 45 degree exemption in the rules, just a subjective thing coaches teach kids. One ump may allow for it while another may determine any movement other than straight toward the bag would result in a balk.

It's an interesting topic. Looked at it hard before my son's 9u season. Don't think it's a valuable move for a high level player because it isn't a very quick action relative to the other two you typically see. But 9u/10u? I think there's value in it since most coaches are teaching their kid to watch the back foot of a right handed pitcher.

Bregxit
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03_Aggie said:

Bregxit said:



Two parts:

1) Step moves require stepping directly toward the base. A RHP cannot step directly toward first base without crossing the 45 degree plane.

2) Simulating a pitch. A RHP that lifts his leg and then turns toward first inherently must move toward home plate first. Turning backward is specifically okayed only for pickoffs to second base.


That's why I say it's debatable. If the umpire determines the move starts their natural move to the plate then it's a balk. But driving your heal to the bag first would constitute a step toward the bag and can easily be done without any forward movement.

Even the mythical 45 degree plane would constitute a move towards home for a left hander going to first. That said, there is no 45 degree exemption in the rules, just a subjective thing coaches teach kids. One ump may allow for it while another may determine any movement other than straight toward the bag would result in a balk.

It's an interesting topic. Looked at it hard before my son's 9u season. Don't think it's a valuable move for a high level player because it isn't a very quick action relative to the other two you typically see. But 9u/10u? I think there's value in it since most coaches are teaching their kid to watch the back foot of a right handed pitcher.




How does a right handed pitcher step backward, turn counter clockwise toward first base and throw with no movement toward home plate? Unless he/she has ball joints in his/her knee and ankle, it cannot be done.

Another thing to consider is that a backward step would be considered going into a windup.

It just doesn't work.




03_Aggie
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Bregxit said:



How does a right handed pitcher step backward, turn counter clockwise toward first base and throw with no movement toward home plate? Unless he/she has ball joints in his/her knee and ankle, it cannot be done.

Another thing to consider is that a backward step would be considered going into a windup.

It just doesn't work.







Means a lot coming from someone who references a mythical 45 degree plane while also saying any movement towards the plate would constitute a balk.

As someone mentioned earlier, balks are a subjective area even under the common moves. The way the rule is written, I'd have no issues with a RH pitcher coming set from the stretch, lifting his leg, driving it backwards towards first, spinning and throwing a pick off move to first.

Again, I'll leave you with the actual language from the rules (feel free to post the language around the 45 degree rule and "movement towards home plate" if I overlooked it):

Quote:

From such Set Position he may deliver the ball to the batter, throw to a base or step backward off the pitcher's plate with his pivot foot. Before assuming Set Position, the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as "the stretch." But if he so elects, he shall come to Set Position before delivering the ball to the batter. After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.


OP, the other coach was correct in that a right handed pitcher does not have to "disengage" (actually stepping backwards, behind the rubber with his pivot foot) prior to throwing a pick off move to first.

The pitcher is required to take a step towards the base if he is still engaged with the rubber. I don't believe there is any specific language around what constitutes a step but if somewhere in the process of attempting to make the step, the umpire determines the pitcher started their "natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter" then it would be a balk since, by rule, they are obligated to deliver the pitch once that occurs.

Crusaders41
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So you are saying that you believe it is acceptable to be fully engaged with the pitching plate with your right foot, for that foot not to move, and to lift the lead foot, which is the left foot in this case, step toward 1st base for a pickoff move?

I need to see some video of this with it not called a balk. As a matter of fact, I want to see any video of it even occuring.

I understand what is written, but if this is allowable, I don't see there ever being a stolen base against a right handed pitcher ever again...
03_Aggie
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Crusaders41 said:

So you are saying that you believe it is acceptable to be fully engaged with the pitching plate with your right foot, for that foot not to move, and to lift the lead foot, which is the left foot in this case, step toward 1st base for a pickoff move?

I need to see some video of this with it not called a balk. As a matter of fact, I want to see any video of it even occuring.

I understand what is written, but if this is allowable, I don't see there ever being a stolen base against a right handed pitcher ever again...


From the stretch position or from the set position?

Keep in mind, "disengaging" is the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot. Otherwise you are engaged which means you have to step toward the base but you are not required to maintain contact with the rubber through the whole motion. The jump spin move is actually a pick off move there the pitchers still engaged with the rubber.
Crusaders41
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03_Aggie said:

Crusaders41 said:

So you are saying that you believe it is acceptable to be fully engaged with the pitching plate with your right foot, for that foot not to move, and to lift the lead foot, which is the left foot in this case, step toward 1st base for a pickoff move?

I need to see some video of this with it not called a balk. As a matter of fact, I want to see any video of it even occuring.

I understand what is written, but if this is allowable, I don't see there ever being a stolen base against a right handed pitcher ever again...


From the stretch position or from the set position?

Keep in mind, "disengaging" is the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot. Otherwise you are engaged which means you have to step toward the base but you are not required to maintain contact with the rubber through the whole motion. The jump spin move is actually a pick off move there the pitchers still engaged with the rubber.

From the Stretch is what I was describing.

You can't jump spin while still being engaged. If you jump, you are no longer engaged.
AggieEP
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I think I see where 03 is going with this and I actually slightly agree.

Right handed in the stretch

Comes set

Picks up left leg but steps essentially directly behind himself towards 1st base. (Rather than swinging the leg all the way around as the op describes which I agree would be a balk)

Lands with the left foot slightly angled to facilitate a quick turn.

Pivots the rest of the body and fires to first.

As long as the left foot never heads towards home plate or third base, I think this would be technically legal.

The problem is that also inside the balk rule is a stipulation that when the pitcher does something to intentionally deceive the runner. And because this move would be very unorthodox, I'd think most umpires would judge the whole intent of the move is to deceive the runner and call it a balk.

I was a left handed pitcher and picked off a ton of guys basically using my head to in reality deceive the runner. I had a high leg kick and I never had to test the boundaries of the mythical 45 degrees, I would just turn my head towards home and the runners would take that as me deciding to deliver home and would start to bounce I to their secondary lead. I'd have never made a move with my body just the neutral leg kick and could go to first still if I needed. The dugout would signal it in to me of the runner on first was getting too far of when I turned toward home, I'd replicate the move and pick the runner off.
Fore Left!
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In my book, once he steps back with the off foot while the right/pivot foot remains engaged with the rubber, he's assumed and initiated more of a windup than a stretch.

There are a few guys in MLB that basically pitch from sort of a sideways windup where they set up angled sideways somewhat, and their windup step back is sideways and in front of the rubber. So to me, what is described above ends up being the same thing.
03_Aggie
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Crusaders41 said:

03_Aggie said:

Crusaders41 said:

So you are saying that you believe it is acceptable to be fully engaged with the pitching plate with your right foot, for that foot not to move, and to lift the lead foot, which is the left foot in this case, step toward 1st base for a pickoff move?

I need to see some video of this with it not called a balk. As a matter of fact, I want to see any video of it even occuring.

I understand what is written, but if this is allowable, I don't see there ever being a stolen base against a right handed pitcher ever again...


From the stretch position or from the set position?

Keep in mind, "disengaging" is the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot. Otherwise you are engaged which means you have to step toward the base but you are not required to maintain contact with the rubber through the whole motion. The jump spin move is actually a pick off move there the pitchers still engaged with the rubber.

From the Stretch is what I was describing.

You can't jump spin while still being engaged. If you jump, you are no longer engaged.


You were engaged with the rubber when you started the move. Merely removing your foot from the rubber is not "disengaging" the rubber. Disengaging the rubber is specifically the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot.

The jump spin, from either the stretch or set position, is executed while still engaged with the rubber.
Crusaders41
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03_Aggie said:

Crusaders41 said:

03_Aggie said:

Crusaders41 said:

So you are saying that you believe it is acceptable to be fully engaged with the pitching plate with your right foot, for that foot not to move, and to lift the lead foot, which is the left foot in this case, step toward 1st base for a pickoff move?

I need to see some video of this with it not called a balk. As a matter of fact, I want to see any video of it even occuring.

I understand what is written, but if this is allowable, I don't see there ever being a stolen base against a right handed pitcher ever again...


From the stretch position or from the set position?

Keep in mind, "disengaging" is the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot. Otherwise you are engaged which means you have to step toward the base but you are not required to maintain contact with the rubber through the whole motion. The jump spin move is actually a pick off move there the pitchers still engaged with the rubber.

From the Stretch is what I was describing.

You can't jump spin while still being engaged. If you jump, you are no longer engaged.


You were engaged with the rubber when you started the move. Merely removing your foot from the rubber is not "disengaging" the rubber. Disengaging the rubber is specifically the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot.

The jump spin, from either the stretch or set position, is executed while still engaged with the rubber.
Couldn't disagree more. Disengaging is leaving contact with the rubber. Stepping off is stepping back behind the rubber. I guess if you don't see it that way we can argue semantics all day long. But I'd bet most people would agree with me. I believe you can disengage without stepping off, but you can't step off without disengaging.
bdgol07
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The pickoff move our pitchers always used was to simply flex the right knee to give the "appearance" of the right heel "disengaging/moving" as the left leg move backwards from the set position and towards first base. It was difficult but we picked off a lot of runners and coaches on the other team were PISSED thinking it was a balk. The few pitchers that could do it were great at it but some couldnt do two things like that at once.
03_Aggie
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Crusaders41 said:

03_Aggie said:

Crusaders41 said:

03_Aggie said:

Crusaders41 said:

So you are saying that you believe it is acceptable to be fully engaged with the pitching plate with your right foot, for that foot not to move, and to lift the lead foot, which is the left foot in this case, step toward 1st base for a pickoff move?

I need to see some video of this with it not called a balk. As a matter of fact, I want to see any video of it even occuring.

I understand what is written, but if this is allowable, I don't see there ever being a stolen base against a right handed pitcher ever again...


From the stretch position or from the set position?

Keep in mind, "disengaging" is the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot. Otherwise you are engaged which means you have to step toward the base but you are not required to maintain contact with the rubber through the whole motion. The jump spin move is actually a pick off move there the pitchers still engaged with the rubber.

From the Stretch is what I was describing.

You can't jump spin while still being engaged. If you jump, you are no longer engaged.


You were engaged with the rubber when you started the move. Merely removing your foot from the rubber is not "disengaging" the rubber. Disengaging the rubber is specifically the act of stepping off the back of the rubber with your pivot foot.

The jump spin, from either the stretch or set position, is executed while still engaged with the rubber.
Couldn't disagree more. Disengaging is leaving contact with the rubber. Stepping off is stepping back behind the rubber. I guess if you don't see it that way we can argue semantics all day long. But I'd bet most people would agree with me. I believe you can disengage without stepping off, but you can't step off without disengaging.


It is specific terminology from the rule book. Disengaging is the act of stepping off behind the rubber with your pivot foot. You are disengaging from the rubber and are no longer considered a pitcher.

Do coaches tell their pitchers to "step off?" Yes but the step off movements are done to disengage from the rubber the legal way.


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