May 23rd, 2010

Personal Profile: Ron Shandler

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Name: Ron Shandler
Nickname: none
Job title(s): Editor and Publisher of, Author of Baseball Forecaster
Full-time in fantasy? Yes, since 1994
Age: 52
Education: BBA Marketing, MBA Management Science, both from Hofstra University
Family status: Married, two daughters (17 and 19)
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Baseball
Favorite sport to watch: Baseball and hockey
Favorite team (any sport): New York Mets
All-time favorite athlete: Tom Seaver
Years playing fantasy: 26

I got my start in the fantasy industry when:
Started publishing the annual Baseball Forecaster in 1986.

Since then, my fantasy résumé includes:
Baseball Forecaster annual book (1986-present)
Baseball Forecaster monthly newsletter (1987-1998) (1996-present)
First Pitch Forum conference series (1994-present) (established 2001)
Other books published: Forecasting Pitching Careers (1995), Pitchers Almanac (1997), Fantasy Baseball Workbook (1999-2000), Graphical Player (2005-2008), Minor League Baseball Analyst (2006-present), Baseball Injury Annual (2007)

Three questions

1. What was different about the information and methods you brought to light with the 1986 debut of Baseball Forecaster? How did your audience for that title change with the growth of fantasy?

Originally, it wasn’t all that different. My intent for the Forecaster was to provide a centralized source for readers to enjoy the works of many sabermetricians — Bill James, Pete Palmer, etc. — so I presented current data using their formulas and some of my own. Adding projected player rankings in 1988 is what opened up the fantasy market.

2. Many fantasy players and writers dream of working with a professional sports team, an opportunity you got and then walked away from. What about that job didn’t appeal to you? Would you consider another position in MLB going forward?

In 2004, after 11 years out of Corporate America, I was running a successful company. I was quite content with making my own decisions and the independence that goes along with that. Major league teams are run just like any other major corporation — endless bureaucracy, layers of decision-making, stunted communication channels, office politics, etc. I’d consider owning a team, but being an employee again? Not likely.

3. What is it about baseball and its numbers that draws you there rather than to other sports?

Baseball is divided up into easily measurable events, unlike most other sports where the action is more fluid. As such, the sport lends itself to more accessible analysis of individual performance. It also lulls us into believing we can create projections based on this data, which is why it was a natural for fantasy applications.

Bonus: In the Fantasyland film, we saw your disbelief at being met at your door by a trade-talking Jed Latkin. After that encounter, do you just let others in your family answer the door instead?

Ha! At 10:30 in the morning, I am typically the only one home. You can just imagine what it is like when you have a mile-long To-Do list sitting on your desk, and Jed Latkin and a cameraman show up at your door asking for a few hours of your time.