- The Canadian American of Pakistani origin is credited for transforming the team he joined in 2018 by recruiting promising players and hiring a new manager.
Canadian American Farhan Zaidi, president of Baseball Operations for the San Francisco Giants, has been hailed as the smartest executive in sports after the Giants won the National League West by defeating the San Diego Padres, 11-4, on Oct, 3. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, “the Giants, who have won 11,301 games in their 139 seasons, the most of any team in MLB history, had never totaled 107 victories in a season until this year.”
The official Twitter handle of the team tweeted after the historic win. “The Giants had plenty of important moments all year, but one hit Sunday stood out as the biggest of the season to Farhan Zaidi.”
When Zaidi joined the Giants as president of Baseball Operations in 2018, he became the first Muslim and first Asian-American general manager of any American professional sports franchise. The season before Zaidi was hired by the Giants, they were fourth in the NL West. The season before that, they were last.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Zaidi has transformed them into a team threatening to prevent the Dodgers from capturing their ninth consecutive division championship and he has done it without signing or trading for any superstars,” according to his profile on the Giants website. Zaidi recruited promising new players and hired a manager, Gabe Kapler, and turned around a team that wasn’t making any dent in the MLB roster.
In his second year at the helm, Giants finished one win away from their first playoff berth since 2016. “That year, Zaidi acquired players like lex Dickerson, Mauricio Dubón, Wilmer Flores, Darin Ruf, Donovan Solano, and Mike Yastrzemski on the offensive side and Jarlín García, Kevin Gausman, and Drew Smyly on the pitching staff.” his profile says. The team posted the sixth-best winning percentage among all big-league teams from mid-August. “When the 2019 season began, the Giants had the 28th-best farm system according to Baseball America in preseason rankings. In their 2020 re-ranking, the Giants moved up to 14th.”
Before joining the Giants, Zaidi spent four years as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ General Manager, joining the club in November 2014. Working alongside the president of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, Zaidi helped pilot the Dodgers to four consecutive division titles. They advanced to the National League Championship Series from 2016-18, and the World Series from 2017-18. “The Dodgers posted one of the best seasons in club history in 2017 when the team established a Los Angeles record with an MLB-best 104 wins and won the National League pennant, earning recognition from Baseball America as its Organization of the Year,” says Zaidi’s profile on the Giants website. During his time in Los Angeles, the Dodgers drafted and developed several notable players. Los Angeles posted the second-best winning percentage in all of baseball (.584, 379-270) during Zaidi’s four-year stint.
Before his work with the Dodgers, Zaidi spent 10 seasons with the Oakland A’s. He started as a baseball operations analyst in 2005 before being promoted to Director of Baseball Operations in 2009 and Assistant General Manager/Director of Baseball Operations in 2014. A’s General Manager Billy Beane credited Zaidi as playing a key role in the signing of Cuban outfielder and two-time All-Star Yoenis Céspedes in 2012. During Zaidi’s tenure with the A’s, the team reached the postseason four times, including three straight seasons from 2012-14.
Before entering baseball, Zaidi served as a business development associate for Small World Media, the fantasy sports division of The Sporting News, and also worked as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.
Born into a family of Pakistani ancestry in Sudbury in Canada’s Ontario province, Zaidi grew up in the Philippines after his family moved to Manila when he was four years old. While living in Manila in a gated community, Zaidi and his family experienced the 1986 revolt against President Ferdinand Marcos. When Zaidi was 9, the family finally moved outside Manila.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998. While at MIT, he was named a Burchard Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He completed his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011. He is married to Lucy Fang, an architect and product designer., and a fellow MIT graduate.