Billy Beane

Billy Beane case study highlights Billy’s experiences in the management of Oakland A’s, a baseball team that was cash strapped with a challenge to compete against well-funded teams. The team had to come up with new and revolutionary tactics. Prior to 1995, the Oakland’s A had been enjoying financial backing from its owner Walter Haas, Jr. Walter was willing to spend any amount of money provided there was a semblance of victory at the end of it. With the death of Walter, the club could no longer support some expensive players like Mark McGwire, Dennis Eckersley, and Jose Canseco. As such, this meant that the club had to put in place austerity measures in the employment of its human resource (Handrinos, 2013).

Among the many compensation strategies, that the club employed under the management of Billy was the signing of contracts way below the prevailing minimum wages. This was the only way forward as the club could not afford the expensive players in the league. For this strategy to be a success and the club to remain relevant, the managers had to ensure that they picked the most talented players who had been overlooked by the other clubs. This could only be made possible through the employment of a criterion that was a departure from the traditional methods used by the other clubs. The use of statistics was an invention and a sober method of approaching the hunt for new players who could make up the team’s profile. This tactic aided the Oakland A’s club to net players who had been neglected by other clubs and regarded as of no value to the game. This helped serve to purposes for the club: one, the club afford to pay lower wages to the player as he had been shunned by the other clubs and two, the players were quite talented and resourceful when analyzed statistically using the formulas invented by Billy and his crop of management bench (Rosner & Shropshire, 2011).

The staffing modalities employed by the then manager of the club Sandy Alderson between 1983 and 1997 was those aimed at introducing new lines of thinking in the management of Baseball. Alderson himself was a graduate of Harvard law school and hence he treasured revolutionary ways of thinking displayed by Bill James in his writings. James was quite critical of the way the players’ performance was analyzed by the managers and the baseball stakeholders in general. He pointed out how the use of fielding statistics which he termed as being inadequate in the analysis of a player’s prowess and abilities. James called for the employment of a wider range of statistics in the determination of the players’ capabilities (Jaffe, 2010). After Alderson, Billy in his capacity as the general manager appointed DePodesta a mathematics genius from Harvard in order to further the use of statistics in the analysis of the players. DePodesta was an individual well versed in the calculations but without any knowledge in the management of baseball. In  general, all the managers who picked by the company was a clique of individuals much younger than other managers from the other clubs. These were the crop of individuals who helped in developing the statistical based analysis methods adopted by Oakland A’s.

In terms of training, the club’s scouts went in for the college level players who were better placed to perform in the field as compared to the high school alternative. This implied that the club would utilize fewer resources in the training of the players as they were already seasoned players with a long history in the game. Moreover, this aspect made it quite easy for the statistical formulas to be implemented in the gauging of the players performance as the college players had a significant record, which could yield valuable data necessary for the determination of their abilities. Apart from that, the club also went for the players who had been rejected by the other well off clubs based on their performance. Scott Hatteberg was such individual employed under favorable terms for the clubs financial abilities in spite of the fact that he was quite skilled in the game. Such tactics, therefore, helped the club to avoid paying hefty wages and at the same time posting impressive performances. In terms of the actual training, the club emphasized on base percentages of a player rather than defense and speed which would in the long run not be converted into scores. In the case of on-base percentages, the club was highly likely to score and hence it was a major component both in the acquisition of players and training (Thaler et.al, 2004).

Generally, the limitation in the capital allocations meant that the club had to adopt radical measures in order to maintain a competitive edge in the league. The little amount of money available for the compensation of players saw to it that the club could not afford the most skilled of the players and hence they had to invent methods for bridging this gap. As a result, the use of statistics came in handy in the choosing of players and the maximization of their abilities. In being able to identify what could not be seen through the eye, Oakland A’s with statistics were able to net quite skilled players at affordable rates. The training aspect also saw a departure from the norm where different tactics were employed.

The modalities adopted by Oakland A’s combined with their financial problems mean that their players were prone to poaching by the bigger and well-financed clubs. Moreover, the adoption of their tactic by the other clubs meant that they no longer had the competitive edge, which they possessed in the beginning.

 

 

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