“Everybody wants to keep baseball the great, incredible game that it is, but they also want to grow it and make sure it doesn’t lose the magic."
Senior Analyst, Economics and Collective Bargaining
Q & A with Craig Edwards
Senior Analyst, Economics and Collective Bargaining
On his early education and college background
I grew up in Iowa, the Des Moines area, and I went to college at Drake [University]. I had majored in History and English, but I didn’t really know what to do after that and ended up going straight to law school at the University of Iowa. From there I moved to Chicago to work as a lawyer. That’s what I did for quite some time before transitioning over to a career in writing.
On breaking into a career in baseball writing
For a really long time, baseball was a hobby. It was always something I’ve loved since I was a kid. I think I always could have been a better law student, a better lawyer if I was passionate about it. That just wasn’t the case for me – but I’ve always been passionate about baseball. I found myself spending more and more time reading everything I could. I think the information age has been great for people who love baseball and want to dive deeper into it. That’s basically what I did, and it drove me to write about baseball and it got me to where I am today.
On learning baseball data & analytics
I’ve always loved baseball stats and data. I grew up reading stats on the back of baseball cards, box scores in the newspaper, and reading Sports Illustrated. A while back, my mom found a report I wrote in the third grade describing different offensive expectations based on a player’s defensive position. At some point in time the writing and information on baseball available evolved. In college, I went to ESPN all the time and read Jerry [Crasnick’s] work and Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark. I think that furthered my education about baseball and it eventually led to sites that had just started up like FanGraphs.
Once I got there, it helped me appreciate the sport more. It helped me deepen my love for the game because there’s just a lot more to it than I had realized. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I think the reason I’m here is not so much because of my writing, but because of all the reading I did.
When I started writing it was almost immediately about analytics -- pitching, pitch types, hitting -- and it sort of grew beyond that because more information kept coming available and everything that was going on with the sport. I wanted to know more about what was going on in the front offices, ownership, player salaries, stadium and TV deals. Everything that was going on in baseball, I wanted to be able to understand it.
On how he views the game
When I think about the sport, numbers help me appreciate the game more. They add some nuance and some depth to what’s going on. You don’t need to know any numbers to appreciate a big curveball, a huge fastball, a towering home run or a diving play in centerfield. The numbers help me understand a lot more of what’s going on, but you don’t need them to appreciate the game. That’s something I try to remember when I’m watching games whether it’s in person or on TV. Sometimes you can sit back and take it in and enjoy it, while other times you dive right into however many permutations or things that might happen or could happen, what decisions should or shouldn’t be made, or how things are being done. Both are equally valid ways to appreciate the sport.
On his time with FanGraphs
Writing for FanGraphs was a bit of a dream job. It didn’t feel like something that was really possible when I started doing my own writing around 10 years ago. I think I’ve been very fortunate that the things I’m interested in are things a lot of people seem to be interested in as well.
I never thought I’d have these types of opportunities and I feel incredibly blessed that this is the way my life and career has turned out.
On his baseball fandom
I grew up a Cardinals fan. I ran Viva El Birdos for a few years, which is the SB Nation Cardinals blog. My mom grew up in St. Louis and my dad grew up in the bootheel of Missouri in Kennett. Even though we were in Iowa, my extended family in St. Louis put their stamp on me, and I was a Cardinals fan. I can’t remember ever not being a Cardinals fan.
It’s a very fun experience to be able to mix your fandom of a team with trying to look at things a little bit more objectively about how players are doing, what the teams should or shouldn’t be doing. That was a lot of the work I did with Viva El Birdos. It was a great community, too, because you’re gathering with a lot of fans who are in some ways like-minded but are always passionate and thinking about the sport in general and the Cardinals specifically.
On working on the Players' behalf
The one thing I bring from my background at FanGraphs … you’re looking at things from all sorts of different perspectives. Ultimately, I was at FanGraphs because I love baseball. When you’re thinking about things that are the best for the game in terms of competition, pace of play, how the best way to move forward for the game, a lot of those things might align with what the Players Association is trying to do particularly in the next collective bargaining agreement. Everybody wants to keep baseball the great, incredible game that it is, but they also want to grow it and make sure it doesn’t lose the magic.
On his new role with the MLBPA
When we look at what’s been going on in baseball over the last year, negotiations between the Players and the owners have picked up considerably due to the pandemic, and later this year the collective bargaining agreement is up. I’ll be looking at all aspects of the sport, whether it’s financial with salaries and arbitration or just making sure the game stays competitive. My focus is going to be trying to find ways that help the players.
On his Twitter profile
Groundhog Day is my favorite movie. It’s one of those things where you open up a Twitter account and you’re not quite sure what it is. At the time, you don’t want to have one of those “eggs” up, and so you have to pick a picture. I picked Ned Ryerson back whenever I joined Twitter eight or 10 years ago, and I just haven’t changed it.
When people meet me, they often take note of the fact that I don’t actually look like Ned Ryerson.