In baseball, a pickoff is an act by a pitcher, throwing a live ball to a fielder so that the fielder can tag out a baserunner who is either leading off or about to begin stealing the next base.
Twins career leaders in pickoffs
Some interesting pickoff tidbits
Four time Cy Young award winner and Hall of Famer Steve Carlton pitched for the Minnesota Twins in a total of just eight games in his short stint in Minnesota in 1987-1988 and he had one pickoff and that was the last one in his illustrious career in which he picked off a MLB career leading 144 runners.
Tippy Martinez pitched for Minnesota in his final season in the big leagues in 1988 after pitching for the Yankees in 1974-1976 and the Orioles in 1976-1986. According to Wikipedia:
“Martinez may be best known for picking off three Toronto Blue Jays at first base in one inning during an August 24, 1983 game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The Orioles, having replaced both their starting catcher and his backup while rallying to tie the game in the ninth inning, entered the tenth with reserve infielder Lenn Sakata in the game at catcher. Three consecutive Blue Jays hitters reached first base and each one, thinking it would be easy to steal a base on Sakata, took a big lead. Martinez picked off all three baserunners, then became the winning pitcher when the Orioles won the game on Sakata’s home run in the bottom of the tenth.”
In 2014 Jon Lester of the Red Sox finishes his year having faced 346 batters with at least one runner on base, yet without having attempted a single pickoff throw.