Baseballoperations analyst for the A's, Zaidi is the latest in general manager BillyBeane's coterie of quantitative thinkers with comparatively thin baseballrésumés--and a future candidate for a G.M. job of his own. Zaidi has input onpersonnel decisions (which free agent projects as the best fit for Oakland?)and charts each game's pitches and hits, then generates reports (why are theA's struggling with runners on third and fewer than two outs?). He also workson long-term analyses: One such study looked at how a player's position affectshis production as he ages; another examined the significance of spring trainingstats for players with limited big league experience.
"Teams arefiguring out the right balance between performance analysis and qualitativeevaluation," says Zaidi, a Ph.D. from Cal. "The cliché is, 'It's notstats, it's information,' and more front offices think of it that way."