If you're looking for a place to start with new Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi, it's probably best to take a look at the story that inspired him to join the ranks of baseball executives in the first place - Michael Lewis' massively-popular portrait of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, Moneyball.
While attending UC Berkeley, Zaidi read Lewis' book (which is widely credited for inspiring many of the young, more-sabermetric minded execs in Major League Baseball. In addition to working on his doctorate at Cal, Zaidi began the slow trek towards implementing his own balanced outlook on the game.
A native of the Philippines, Zaidi had attended MIT without a clear connection to the baseball world or a fully-formed idea of how he wanted to put his obvious intellectual and analytical talents to use. However, Lewis' book changed all that - providing a direction for which Zaidi to focus all of his energies towards.
Zaidi even applied for an opening under former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta in 2004, although his first attempted at cracking the organization would prove unsuccessful. However, as fate would have it, Zaidi would end up seeing a listing shortly thereafter for a baseball operations post under the protagonist of Moneyball himself, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane.
Beating 1,000 other applicants for the job, Zaidi took leave from UC Berkeley in 2005 to joing the Oakland A's as a data analysis sabermetrics assistant. His mental acumen and abilities absolutely floored Beane as the two began to work closely together.
"He's absolutely brilliant," Beane said of Zaidi during his time in Oakland, via ESPN.com. "He has a great qualitative mind, but also a creative mind. The ability to look at things both micro and macro is unique and Farhan could do whatever he wants to do, not just in this game, but in any sport or business. I'm more worried about losing him to Apple or Google than I am to another team."
Zaidi wouldn't jump ship or professions as Beane had worried. In fact, he'd remain with the A's for nine years, picking up a promotion to Director of Baseball Operations before the 2013 season and adding Assistant General Manager to his title before the 2014 campaign.
One of only two Muslims executives in Major League Baseball, Zaidi's work has been crucial to Oakland's run of regular-season success over the past decade. So, after another sabermetrics student, former Rays GM Andrew Friedman, took over as Director of Baseball Operations soon after the 2014 season and former GM Ned Colletti was named senior adviser to owner and president Stan Kasten, it was only fitting that the team that had shunned him a decade ago would give him his first chance to be a general manager.
The Dodgers hired Zaidi on November 6th, 2014, hoping that he's up to the task of translating some of the small market magic he worked with the A's on the big-market stage at Dodger Stadium.
(h/t CBS Los Angeles)
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