Billy Beane

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Billy Beane
Billy Beane 2006.jpg
Beane in 2006
Outfielder
Born: (1962-03-29) March 29, 1962 (age 52)
Orlando, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 13, 1984 for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1989 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average .219
Home runs 3
Runs batted in 29
Teams

As Player

As General Manager

William Lamar "Billy" Beane III (born March 29, 1962) is an American former professional baseball player and current front office executive. He is the general manager (GM) and minority owner of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB). Prior to his front office career, he played in MLB as an outfielder between 1984 and 1989 for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, and Oakland Athletics. He joined the Athletics' front office as a scout in 1990, and was named GM after the 1997 season.

A first round pick in the MLB draft by the Mets, Beane's playing career failed to meet the expectations of the scouts, who projected him as a star. In his front office career, Beane has applied statistical analysis (known as sabermetrics) to players, which has led all teams to reconsider how they evaluate players. He is the subject of Michael Lewis' 2003 book on baseball economics, Moneyball, which was made into a 2011 film starring Brad Pitt as Beane.

Baseball career

Early life

Beane grew up in Hollywood, Florida and San Diego, California, the child of a career military family.12 His father, a naval officer, taught him how to pitch.1

Beane attended Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego, where he excelled at baseball, football, and basketball.1 The high school coach added Beane to the varsity baseball team for the last game of his freshman season.1 Beane batted .501 during his sophomore and junior years of high school.13 In his senior season, his batting average dropped to .300.4

Despite the decrease in batting average, scouts were enamored with Beane's talent.4 Beane gave up football to avoid an injury that could prematurely end his baseball career.5 Despite this, Stanford University tried to recruit Beane on a joint baseball-football scholarship as the quarterback who would replace then-sophomore John Elway for the Stanford Cardinal football team.5

Playing career

The New York Mets, who had the first overall selection of the 1980 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft, considered choosing Beane with the first pick.6 Because many teams believed Beane would attend Stanford and not sign with a professional team,7 Beane fell to the 23rd overall pick in the draft where he was taken by the New York Mets, who were enamored with Beane's talent. The Mets had two other first round picks that year, allowing them to risk Beane not signing.8 After visiting the Mets' clubhouse, Beane decided to sign with the Mets for a $125,000 signing bonus ($357,785 in current dollar terms). Beane notes his decision to sign with the Mets instead of going to Stanford as the "only decision he would ever make in his life about money."9

Believing Beane to be a more refined player than their top first-round pick, Darryl Strawberry, the Mets assigned Strawberry to play rookie ball with other high school draftees, while Beane was assigned to the Little Falls Mets of the Class A New York–Penn League, with players drafted out of college.10 Beane struggled in his first season, batting .210.11 He was unable to make the adjustments that were necessary when playing tougher competition.12 The Mets promoted Beane to the Lynchburg Mets of the Class A-Advanced Carolina League in 1981. After a solid season, he was promoted to the Jackson Mets of the Class AA Texas League in 1982.11 While Strawberry was the league's most valuable player, Beane batted .220.13 Beane began questioning himself, while his new roommate, Lenny Dykstra, a less physically gifted athlete, succeeded with unwavering confidence and superior mental focus.14

Beane at the Oakland Coliseum in 1989, during his time with the A's

Beane remained in Jackson until 1984, when he received his first promotion to MLB, appearing in five games for the 1984 New York Mets. In 1985, Beane spent most of the season with the Tidewater Tides of the Class AAA International League, getting called up to the 1985 Mets for eight games. He batted .284 for the Tides in 1985, leading the team with 19 home runs and 77 runs batted in.15 Following the season, the Mets traded Beane with Joe Klink and Bill Latham to the Minnesota Twins for Tim Teufel and Pat Crosby, a minor league player.16

The Twins entered spring training prepared to give Beane the job as their starting left fielder over incumbent Mickey Hatcher, but he dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness.17 Beane appeared in 80 games for the 1986 Minnesota Twins, batting .216.18 Beane also appeared in 32 games for the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League. The Twins sent Beane to their new Class-AAA affiliate, the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), after spring training in 1987.19 After batting .285 for Portland, Beane received a call-up to the Twins after the September 1 roster expansion.1820 He appeared in 12 games for the 1987 Minnesota Twins.

The Twins traded Beane to the Detroit Tigers for Balvino Gálvez during spring training in 1988.21 He made the Tigers' opening day roster that season as an injury fill-in,22 and was optioned to Toledo in late April,23 now serving as Detroit's Class-AAA affiliate, where he spent most of the season. Beane appeared in six games for the 1988 Tigers. Granted free agency after the 1988 season, Beane signed with the Oakland Athletics, appearing in 37 games with the 1989 Athletics, batting .241 in 79 at bats.24 Beane spent most of the season with the Class-AAA Tacoma Tigers of the PCL. He re-signed with the Athletics for the 1990 season,24 and he was sent down to the minor leagues at the end of spring training.25

Front office career

Weary of the lifestyle of a minor league player, Beane approached Athletics General Manager (GM) Sandy Alderson a day after he was reassigned to minor league camp in April 1990 and asked for a job as an advance scout.2627 Beane held this position through 1993, when he was promoted to Assistant GM of the Athletics, tasked with scouting minor league players.2829

Under the ownership of Walter A. Haas, Jr., the Athletics appeared in three consecutive World Series, from 1988 through 1990, and had the highest payroll in baseball in 1991.30 Haas died in 1995, and new owners Stephen Schott and Ken Hofmann ordered Alderson to slash payroll.31 To field a competitive roster on a limited budget, Alderson began focusing on sabermetric principles, in order to obtain relatively undervalued players. He valued on-base percentage among hitters.32 Alderson taught Beane to find value that other teams did not see using sabermetrics.33

Beane succeeded Alderson as GM on October 17, 1997.34 He continued Alderson's crafting of the Athletics into one of the most cost-effective teams in baseball. For example, in the 2006 MLB season, the Athletics ranked 24th of 30 major league teams in player salaries but had the 5th-best regular-season record.35

Beane (left) at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival

The Athletics reached the playoffs in four consecutive years from 2000 through 2003, losing in the American League Division Series each year. In 2002, the Athletics became the first team in the 100 plus years of American League baseball to win 20 consecutive games. They won their first playoff series under Beane in 2006 when they swept the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series, but were subsequently swept by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series. Other low payroll teams, such as the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins and the 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays, have appeared in the World Series.

It's all about evaluating skills and putting a price on them. Thirty years ago, stockbrokers used to buy stock strictly by feel. Let's put it this way: Anyone in the game with a 401(k) has a choice. They can choose a fund manager who manages their retirement by gut instinct, or one who chooses by research and analysis. I know which way I'd choose."

–Billy Beane36

After the 2002 season, the Boston Red Sox made Beane an offer to become their GM, but he declined.37 On April 15, 2005, Beane received a contract extension to remain with the Athletics as its general manager through 2012, and new team owner Lewis Wolff awarded Beane a small portion of the team's ownership.38 In February 2012, the Athletics extended Beane's contract through 2019.39

From their 2006 playoff appearance until 2012 when they again made the playoffs, the Athletics had not made the playoffs or finished above .500, which had triggered criticism of Beane and his approach in some quarters in baseball, especially in 2009.36 Beane largely dismisses criticism of his approach, indicating that his philosophy revolves around research and analysis.36 Many other general managers have followed Beane's strategy and now use similar approaches.40

Illustrating this example, Beane began concentrating on high-school players, a group he once largely ignored, in the MLB draft, considering them to be heavily undervalued.36 He and other like-minded GMs also changed their draft strategies to focus more on defensive skills, which had become undervalued in the years immediately after the Moneyball revolution. This new emphasis on defense was displayed in the 2010 season; although the Athletics finished at .500 and again missed the playoffs, they led MLB in defensive efficiency, measured as the percentage of balls put into play by opponents that resulted in outs, and allowed the fewest runs in the AL.41 In the 2012 season the Athletics again made the playoffs under Beane winning the American League West title on the last day of the regular season. The Athletics returned to the playoffs in 2013 by also winning the American League West division title in the 2013 season, the team's first back-to-back division championships since the 2002-2003 seasons.

In December 2009, Sports Illustrated named Beane as number 10 on its list of the Top 10 GMs/Executives of the Decade in all sports.42a

Activities outside baseball

Twice married, Beane has a daughter from his first marriage and twins from his current marriage.36 He attended the University of California, San Diego during the baseball offseasons of his playing career.43

Beane at a soccer event in London

On January 4, 2007, the software company NetSuite named Beane to its board of directors. NetSuite co-founder Evan Goldberg cited Beane's ability to combine facts with instinct as an important factor in the decision to involve him in the company.44 Beane also served as a consultant for, and also appears in, the video game MLB Front Office Manager.4546

When the Athletics ownership group agreed to purchase the reincarnation of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer, Beane, who has expressed a passion for soccer, began developing a system for objectively analyzing soccer players. He has agreed to help the Earthquakes front office develop a method for building a cost-effective team, as the salary cap in MLS is even more restrictive than the Athletics' status as a small-market team in Major League Baseball.47

He has claimed that Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is a personal idol. His friendship with Damien Comolli and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke allowed him to delve deep into the world of English football.48

Because of his team's success despite its low payroll, Beane was the subject of author Michael Lewis's 2003 best-selling book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book discusses Beane's methods as the GM of the Athletics and how he, along with Harvard-educated statistician Paul DePodesta,49 used sabermetric principles to run his team in a cost-effective way. According to the book, this allowed him to be successful despite his financial constraints. The book and Beane's methods have influenced the way many think about the game of baseball, including other teams and players.50 He was played by Brad Pitt in the 2011 film Moneyball.36 Pitt was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Beane.51

Notes

  1. ^ The list's only other MLB executives were Theo Epstein (No. 3) and Pat Gillick (No. 7).42

References

Bibliography


In-line citations
  1. ^ a b c d e Moneyball, p. 6
  2. ^ "Oakland A's: Executive Profiles: Billy Beane". Mlb.mlb.com. 1997-10-17. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  3. ^ Moneyball, p. 7
  4. ^ a b Moneyball, p. 9
  5. ^ a b Moneyball, p. 10
  6. ^ "Mets get first grab". The Bonham Daily Favorite. United Press International. June 3, 1980. p. 3. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ Moneyball, pp. 10-11
  8. ^ Moneyball, p. 11
  9. ^ Moneyball, pp. 12-13
  10. ^ Moneyball, p. 43
  11. ^ a b Moneyball, p. 44
  12. ^ Moneyball
  13. ^ Moneyball, p. 45
  14. ^ Moneyball, pp. 46-47
  15. ^ "Twins Trade Tim Teufel". The Michigan Daily. Associated Press. January 17, 1986. p. 9. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Mets Trade for Twins' Teufel; Stadler, Mize Share Hope Lead". Sun Sentinel. January 17, 1986. p. 2.C. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  17. ^ "Beane's battle". Minneapolis Star Tribune. March 21, 1987. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  18. ^ a b Hafner, Dan (September 5, 1987). "American League Roundup Expanded Roster Gives Twins a Quick Payoff". Los Angeles Times. p. 10. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  19. ^ "Twins deal for Gladden, drop Hatcher, Sample". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. April 1, 1987. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  20. ^ "Puckett homer could spur pennant drive". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. September 4, 1987. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  21. ^ "Expos Buy Pinch-Hitter Nettles". Philadelphia Daily News. March 25, 1988. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  22. ^ Loomis, Tom (April 4, 1988). "King Should Get Put-Up-Or-Shut-Up Trial With Toledo". Toledo Blade. p. 23. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Transactions". Ludington Daily News. Associated Press. April 29, 1988. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b "A's Sign Young for Two Years; Phils, McDowell Agree to 3 Years, $6 Million". San Jose Mercury News. January 17, 1990. p. 2D. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  25. ^ "Sanderson Wants to Get Back into the Rotation". The Sacramento Bee. April 2, 1990. p. D7. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  26. ^ Moneyball, p. 55
  27. ^ "Beane Offered Scouting Job, Rickey Says He'll Ask To Renegotiate if he Has Big Season". San Jose Mercury News. April 3, 1990. p. 2E. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  28. ^ Moneyball, p. 62
  29. ^ "Rickey Sings New York, New York". The Sacramento Bee. July 18, 1993. p. C11. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  30. ^ Moneyball, p. 57
  31. ^ Moneyball, p. 58
  32. ^ Moneyball, p. 59
  33. ^ Moneyball, pp. 62-63
  34. ^ "Beane Takes Over For Alderson: Former GM Will Remain Team President". The Sacramento Bee. October 18, 1997. p. C4. Retrieved November 1, 2011.  (subscription required)
  35. ^ "MLB Standings - 2006". 
  36. ^ a b c d e f Bryant, Howard (July 27, 2009). "The Revolutionary". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 28, 2009. 
  37. ^ "Spurned by Beane, Red Sox go back to drawing board". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. November 11, 2002. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Beane also gets extension through 2012". ESPN. Associated Press. April 1, 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  39. ^ "Oakland Athletics agree to extend GM Billy Beane, President Michael Crowley through 2019". Associated Press. February 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  40. ^ Cowen, Tyler; Grier, Kevin (December 11, 2011). "The Economics of Moneyball". Grantland.com. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  41. ^ Jazayerli, Rany (July 8, 2011). "Undervalued Sluggers". Grantland.com. Retrieved July 11, 2011. 
  42. ^ a b Friedman, Dick (December 22, 2009). "2000s: Top 10 GMs/Executives". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  43. ^ "Bay Area ballclubs have two gems for GMs: The A's Billy Beane and the Giants' Brian Sabean employ different philosophies, but both generate successful results". The Sacramento Bee. February 12, 2006. p. C1. Retrieved March 1, 2012.  (subscription required)
  44. ^ "Billy Beane takes seat on NetSuite board". San Francisco Business Times. January 4, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  45. ^ Shanker Srinivasan (November 21, 2008). "GameSpot MLB Front Office Manager First Look". GameSpot. p. 1. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  46. ^ "MLB Front Office Manager screenshot". 2K Sports. October 31, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  47. ^ Kelly, Cathal (August 21, 2007). "Mr. Beane's love affair with soccer". The Star. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  48. ^ Bascombe, Chris (October 13, 2011). "Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is an idol of mine, says revered baseball coach Billy Beane". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  49. ^ Kuper, Simon (November 13, 2011). "Inside Baseball: Michael Lewis and Billy Beane talk Moneyball". Slate. Retrieved February 27, 2012. 
  50. ^ "Rethinking Moneyball – MLB – Yahoo! Sports". Yahoo! Sports. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  51. ^ "Nominees and Winners for the 84th Academy Awards". oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 

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