MLB rules to call fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff move a balk
A rule change approved at the MLB owners’ meetings this month will disallow pitchers’ fake pickoff throws to third base, according to the New York Times‘ Tyler Kepner.
Pitchers commonly have used the fake-to-third move to fool baserunners into jumping off of either first or third. But that move will now be considered a balk, though pitchers can still fake a pickoff throw to second.
The league proposed the rule change to the MLB players association last year, but the MLBPA rejected it. According to Kepner’s report, “Baseball then used its power under the labor agreement to enact the change unilaterally after approving it at the owners’ meetings this month.”
The fake-to-third, throw-to-first maneuver rarely worked, leading to widespread support when the league considered eliminating it.
“The managers say it’s all about speeding up the game,” said the former reliever Jeff Nelson, now a contributor to MLB.com. “I think now, the runner at first might get a little bit of an advantage. All it’s used for is to keep the runner at first close. I might have done it 100 times and gotten two guys on it.”
Joe Torre was the Yankees’ manager then. Now an executive vice president in the commissioner’s office, he said there was widespread support to change the rule.”
“A large majority of the managers, I mean really a good amount, wanted to eliminate it,” Torre said. “So we presented it.”