When over $240 million paved the way for just a single postseason win in what had been a highly anticipated 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers wasted no time in remodeling their front office. First, General Manger Ned Colletti was named senior adviser to owner and President Stan Kasten. Then the club created a position to bring in former Tampa Bay Rays executive Andrew Friedman as president of baseball operations. Then it was announced Tuesday that the club intended to hire away Assistant General Manager and Director of Baseball Operations for the Oakland Athletics, Farhan Zaidi, to be general manager of the Dodgers. The hiring is all but set, though few Dodger fans, who have become used to Colletti’s style of operations, know much about Zaidi’s statistical approach to trades and pickups, let alone his history in the game.
We take a look at five interesting facts about the pending new general manager of the Dodgers, Farhan Zaidi.
5.) Zaidi holds a doctorate in behavioral economics from UC Berkeley.
According to his Linkedin profile, Zaidi worked to earn his doctorate at Berkeley from 2001 to 2011. His time there, particularly with his degree, enhanced Oakland’s statistical approach to pursuing trades, free-agent pickups and drafts.
4.) He applied for a job with the Dodgers 10 years ago.
That’s right. It is said that while pursuing his studies at Berkeley, Zaidi read the book “Moneyball” about the man he would eventually work for in Oakland, Billy Beane. The book, which focuses on the development of an approach to baseball operations from an analytical, sabermetric viewpoint, influenced Zaidi tremendously. In 2004, he sent a resume to Paul DePodesta, who was the Dodgers’ GM at the time, looking for work. His application was not accepted, and Zaidi was ultimately American League bound.
3.) He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from MIT.
Yes, the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has educated incredible minds like former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, presented a degree to the man who is now the general manager of the Dodgers. He accomplished this feat from 1994 to 1998, presumably before his official interest in pursuing analytics in baseball.
2.) He is one of only a few Muslims in Major League Baseball.
When you try to think of men in MLB who are of Muslim faith, most people think of Sam Khalifa, an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1985-87. As soon as Zaidi’s hiring becomes official, he will become the first Muslim general manager in the history of professional sports in America, according to CBSSports.com.
1.) His approach to baseball operations is as balanced as he is.
Zaidi is a Canadian of Pakistani descent, grew up in the Philippines and was educated in the United States. This balance, unlike any other in baseball today, carries over into his strategy for baseball operations. Zaidi mixes a respect and appreciation for the old-school style of baseball scouting and applies it with statistical analysis. This is an insight into where the Dodgers front office seems to be heading, especially for fans who believe statistical analytics by themselves have no place in baseball.