ANAHEIM, Calif. — Major League Baseball is a results-driven business. While that’s understandable, given the ultimate result of wins and losses is all that matters, baseball can quickly become a psychologically challenging game for players who are putting in the work but not seeing the results. This is why Los Angeles Angels pitcher Griffin Canning entered this season intent on prioritizing the process.
“I came into this year trying to be more process-oriented and not focusing on the results as much,” Canning told reporters following his start on May 10th. Canning said he felt good in this outing, but got through just 3.2 IP, surrendering 5 earned runs. When asked how he’s able to keep a process-oriented focus in a results-driven business, Canning said that day, “The results are out of my control, so that’s how. I just focus on what I’m doing each day, try to get better each day, and take it one day at a time.”
In his next start following those postgame comments, Canning was on the losing end in Baltimore, getting through 5.1 IP and surrendering 9 hits, 2 walks, and 3 earned runs. It again wasn’t his best outing, but Canning kept the Angels in a game they had just 4 hits and 1 run. Again met with a frustrating result, Canning continued to keep his focus on the process.
On Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox, Canning had his best outing of the season, allowing just 2 hits in 7 shutout innings. When asked after the game if prioritizing the process over the results in his last two frustrating starts helped produce the success he had on Tuesday, Canning said, “Yeah, definitely. I don’t think I’ve been getting too high or too low. I feel like I’m doing the right things in between starts, and genuinely feel like I’m getting better each outing, so in that sense it’s been easy to stick with the process.”
It’s an interesting dynamic, as a lack of focus on results is what Canning feels has produced better ones, but this is baseball – it’s 90% mental, and the other half is physical.