Billy Beane has been awarded the Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by the Sporting News. This isn’t the first time Beane has won such an award. Baseball America named Beane the top executive in 2002.
Not all that unlike his success in 2002, Beane was able to manufacture a winning team out of inexperienced pitchers and hand-me-down players such as Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, Travis Blackley, Pat Neshek, Brandon Inge and Stephen Drew.
But Beane owes much of his success to deviating from his 2002 template. In a surprising move, Beane outbid his peers to land Cuban outfielder Yeonis Cespedes, an unknown commodity at the time. Beane would give Cespedes a four-year, $36 million contract, and Cespedes would give the A’s great isolated power, above average base-running, and 3.1 wins above a replacement-level player.
In all, Beane managed to turn the lowest payroll in baseball into 94 wins and an AL West title, beating out both the Rangers and Angels and their combined $270 million payroll.
Though the A’s bid for the AL West came down to the final game of the season, Beane’s personal victory wouldn’t. In a vote by 50 of his peers, Beane received 31 votes. His Bay Area counterpart, Brian Sabean, received only one vote, despite putting together a World Series champion.
Readers of this site too elected Beane as the best executive in baseball just months ago. Though many commented on the merits of awarding such a designation to Sabean, the margin of victory wasn’t even close.
Beane’s prowess has been proven tenfold over his time with the A’s. And I have to wonder how much more successful Beane would be if he wasn’t handicapped by revenues from a decrepit ballpark.