Billy Beane: The math, money and mastermind behind the Oakland A’s “Moneyball” success
on January 28, 2015
The 2014 season for the Oakland Athletics was full of ups and downs. The A’s got off to a great start, achieving a 59-36 record, which was the best in baseball by the All-Star break. Oakland also had the best run differential in all of baseball and had six players selected to the All-Star game, more than any other club.
However, A’s general manager Billy Beane made a blockbuster trade on July 31, sending Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. The move turned out to be costly. The A’s struggled in the second half. They lost the American League (AL) division to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and went 29-38 to finish the season. Despite this, the A’s finished the season with an 88-74 record and made the postseason in spite of having the 27th ranked opening day payroll.
In the end, the eventual AL World Series representative, the Kansas City Royals eliminated the A’s from the playoffs in the Wild Card play-in game on September 30. As a result, this offseason Beane has been aggressively rebuilding his team for the upcoming 2015 season. He’s made nine trades involving a total of 28 players – traded five of the A’s All-Stars and five of the team’s top 10 prospects.
Whether A’s fans love or hate Beane, one thing is for certain – they have learned to respect the man who’s goal has always been not to build a roster of favorites, but consistent winning clubs.
This project is about Beane’s tenure as the A’s general manager, which began in 1998. From 2007 through 2011, Oakland failed to make the playoffs. But since 2012, the A’s have won back-to-back AL West Division titles and made the playoffs three straight years.
The two major statistical categories that the team values the most is on base percentage (OBP) and earned run average (ERA). OBP is a measure of how often a batter reaches base. The last two seasons, the A’s have been in the top 10 in OBP. ERA is one of the most important statistics used to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness. The fewer runs a pitcher allows, the lower his ERA will be. Since 2010, the A’s have been in the top 10 in ERA four times. Last season, Oakland had the lowest rotation ERA in the AL and ranked second in bullpen ERA.
The data used in this project comes from three sources: Lahman’s Baseball Database, MLB.com and Baseball-reference.com.
To view the A’s average wins per money spent, OBP per millions spent, and ERA per money spent, use the year sliders in the interactive display above by moving them from left to right and right to left. You can also check the league (AL and NL) boxes to see specific teams wins, OBP and ERA in comparison to the A’s.
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