- The Canadian American of Pakistani origin who just completed his third season is credited for transforming the team he joined in 2018 by recruiting promising players and hiring a new manager.
Farhan Zaidi, president of Baseball Operations for the San Francisco Giants has been named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2021 Executive of the Year Award. The Canadian American of Pakistani origin just completed his third season in charge of the Giants’ baseball operations. He is credited for transforming the team he joined in 2018 by recruiting promising players and hiring a new manager.
“It’s really overwhelming to be in a position where your colleagues elect you to this award,” Zaidi said while accepting the honor, according to mlb.com. “Billy Beane and David Forst gave me my start, and I’m really grateful for that.”
This season, the Giants made history with a 107-win, marking the best record in the franchise’s 139-year history. They defeated Los Angeles by one game for the National League West title, but lost to the Dodgers in the NL Division Series in five games, the mlb.com report said. “The 107 victories were the most by an NL team since the ‘86 Mets won 108, which remains the highest win total for an NL club during the division era (1969-present),” the report said. “The Giants became the first NL team with a .600 or better winning percentage in every month of the season since the ‘42 Brooklyn Dodgers.”
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.
Before joining the Giants, Zaidi spent four years as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ General Manager, joining the club in November 2014. 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 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.