The Crimson, Baseball, and Life as a GM: An Interview with David Stearns

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On this episode of ZUCKER, the general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, David Stearns, joins the show to talk about his time at Harvard, his experience in baseball, and the power of sports.

On his time at The Crimson: I knew I wanted to stay attached to sports. Journalism was an avenue through which I could do that in school. And I didn't really know where it would lead afterward. I loved my time writing, I loved being around the athletic department, I loved just getting to spend time across the river. So that’s what led to my time at The Crimson and was also able to make some really good relationships and friends there.

On how he doesn’t let his age hold him back: It’s a question I got very often early on in my tenure here. And the best answer I could give is I’ve always been a little bit young for the jobs I’ve held, and it’s never held me back in the past, and so I don’t really expect it to hold me back now. I think this industry recognizes hard work, it’s a meritocracy — it’s a merit based industry — and so when we do good work, regardless of how old or young we are, we get recognized and we get rewarded for it.

On weighing gut on a player versus data on a player: What we try to do is turn everything into an information source. So baseball is a really fortunate industry in that we have a very robust dataset stretching back quite close to a century of in-depth information about every game that has been played at the major league level. We also have, at this point, robust performance data for amature and minor league levels, as well. And in the recent past, we’ve now begun to acquire a very robust set of granular data that we can meld together and learn from and learn about what is actually happening on a baseball field in a very specific sense. So all of those are really important to us and we try to learn from all of those and make fact-based decisions. And we also understand that there are really skilled evaluators who can watch baseball and maybe pick up on some things that all of our information sources miss.