Re: Requiring Pitchers to step off the rubber before making a pickoff throw. Hasn’t this always been the case? I guess that was my assumption because that was the rule when I played growing up.
Not always. The most common occurrence where this doesn't happen is with a LH pitcher and a runner on first.The pitcher can keep their foot on the rubber, pick up their front leg as if in a pitching motion and still throw to 1B as long as they don't make a movement towards home (i.e. they step towards home instead of 1B). This also applies to a RH pitcher with a runner on 3B.
Also, if the pitcher picks up his front leg as they would in a typical pitching motion, as long as the front foot doesn't cross the back leg, they can still throw to the base as well while their plant foot is still on the rubber.That's why you'll see pitchers pick their front leg straight up regardless of where they intend to go with the ball.