September 16, 2009
Why was Dave Stewart picked on?Baseball Databank and happened to look at a trend of balks. I noticed this HUGE spike in the number of balks in 1988. I figured there had to be something wrong with the data, so I turned to Google. I found this terrific blog post that explains exactly what happened in 1988.
THE RULES WERE CHANGED!
So what happened? In 1988, the Oakland Athletics led the majors with 76 balks or just over 8% of the total. 1988 accounted for 37% of the A's balks from 1985-2008...that's ridiculous!
Dave Stewart set a record with 16 balks. Order was restored in 1989 and Dave Stewart had zero balks. I do remember Dave Stewart going to the plate quickly, so maybe it was the change in the rule that says "the pitcher must come to a single complete and discernible stop" that got him.