Laurila: Is pitching more an art or a science?

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on August 5, 2013:

I recently posed a question to 12 players. It was a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Given the subjectivity involved, it doesn’t even have a right answer.

Is pitching more of an art or more of a science?

The question was phrased exactly that way. It was up to the people responding to interpret the meaning of “art or science” and to elaborate accordingly. Their responses are listed below in alphabetical order. 


Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks lefthander: “It’s probably more of an art. Every game is different, and every time you go out there you have to figure it out. You’re painting a different picture every time.

“The hitters are different, so you have to learn what they do and what they’re not good at. You have to adjust, or you’re not going to be around for very long. Being able to repeat your mechanics is obviously important, but maintaining your delivery — keeping things as consistent as you can — is kind of an art.”

Justin De Fratus, Philadelphia Phillies righthander: “I don’t think it’s either. If you look at the artistic and scientific worlds, nobody is really competing. They’re trying to contribute to their field. Scientists are trying to make a new discovery to contribute to the world of science. Artists are doing painting or music; they’re contributing to the arts. I don’t think it’s fair to classify pitching with the two, because pitching is about competition. Pitching is about the desire to win a little fight.

“I’m not concerned with what my WHIP is, or what his stance looks like, or how pretty his swing is. For me, it is ‘throw the ball as hard as I can to the target,’ and for the hitter it should be ‘see-the-ball-hit-the-ball.’ It’s that simple. I approach pitching the same way I do playing the guitar. I have tunnel vision doing both, so I‘d be spinning my wheels to try to consider pitching more of an art or a science.”

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Originally published: August 8, 2013. Last Updated: August 8, 2013.