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According to Five Thirty Eight, Billy Beane’s A’s have exceeded expectations by nearly $1.38 billion

Jul 25, 2014, 10:15 PM EST

Billy Beane AP

Benjamin Morris of Five Thirty Eight posted an article yesterday in which he used a handful of statistical methods to estimate how much the Athletics, led by GM Billy Beane, have exceeded expectations. For those not familiar with Beane, he was the central figure in the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, authored by Michael Lewis and released in 2003. Beane didn’t let the Athletics’ status as a small-market team deter him from building a contender; instead, he looked for market inefficiencies. For example, at the time, teams were devaluing players with high on-base percentages because of low batting averages, so he was able to sign Scott Hatteberg, among others, and enjoyed great success as a result.

From the time Beane took over the A’s in 1998 through 2013, the club has gone 1,396-1,194 (.539). They have reached the playoffs seven times in those 16 seasons. The A’s enter tonight’s action at 63-38, poised to win the AL West for a third consecutive season.

So what did Morris find? Since the start of this millennium, the Athletics have won 180 more games than we would expect, given their payroll. Then, using various estimates pertaining to the price of a win, Morris suggests that the A’s have exceeded expectations by $1.38 billion. The next-best team, the Angels, comes in at $702 million. On the other end of the spectrum, the Royals have under-performed expectations by nearly $800 million. If statistical wizardry is your bag, then the column is certainly worth your time.

  1. gerwinke1985 - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    Still not sure why he was played by Brad Pitt in Moneyball…looks so much more like Billy Bob Thorton.

    • jerze2387 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:51 PM

      Unless Billy beane is a drunken irritable guy, or creepy, i dont see Billy Bob playing the role very well. After Bad Santa, bad News bears, and his character in Fargo the series, not sure he has the right demeanor

  2. apkyletexas - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    Funny how “The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” is never included in the title when the press mentions Moneyball. As in – baseball’s revenue agreements are the worst by far in American sports.

  3. polegojim - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    The Rockies should go to Bean School. Second worst team in baseball… AGAIN… with middle of the pack payroll.

    Not even Mediocrity at it’s best… the Rockies are FAILURE at it’s best.

  4. muckthefets23 - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    Idk…. He does look a lot like Billy Bob. With his unbelievable range as an actor I’m sure he could pull off some sort of bizarro Billy Beane.

  5. bkbell3 - Jul 26, 2014 at 5:37 AM

    I’m confused, isn’t the last time the A’s won a world series when they had the highest payroll in the league? No chips, barely a 500 record, missed the playoffs 9 times in 16 years. I’ve got a feeling charlie sheen is not calling up this guy and saying ” Winning” anytime soon. Don’t get the hype. They don’t win and yes i know they are this year so far and where are the huge amounts of diamonds in the rough they magically plucket from obscurity with his numbers and insite that are stars and where are the chips after 16 years?

    • bigmeechy74 - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:40 AM

      come on man. Don’t be that guy. Making the playoffs is an accomplishment. After you get there, it’s a total crapshoot. The best team doesn’t always win the world series. In a best of 7 series no team is favored over another team by that much. If you put the astros against the A’s or the cardinals in a 7 game series they would win 35 to 40% of the time.

      • bkbell3 - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:18 AM

        Big, i hear you but this guy writes books about how much smarter he is and how he has this great system and incite and i don’t see the results. I commented on a similar article and a guy said that gm’s are using stats and numbers and hes ideas all over the league to help their teams. Well that’s great except he was hired to bring a chip to HIS team and after 16 years and missing the playoffs 9 years out of 16 i think we have a large enough sample to show that he doesn’t have any special incite or system. He is a media darling and media made. Other teams have spent less and had more success and even won a chip. Again i don’t get the hype. 16 years is a big sample.

      • clemente2 - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        Beane did not write the book. As directly stated in the post above, Michael Lewis did.

        You are misunderstanding the point entirely. Beane is receiving accolades for his use of roster management to deal with a small payroll. The ‘extra’ wins are a measure of that success.

        Beane agreed his successful roster management does not translate into similarly strong playoff teams.

    • tfbuckfutter - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Couple things….First what is overlooked is that 4 of those 7 playoff appearances occurred consecutively in 2000-2003 and a fifth was only a couple years later.

      And for those first 4 playoff appearances, they happened to have Hudson, Mulder and Zito. All guys who were making way less than their market value because they were under team control. That’s not a knock on Beane or anything, but it was a MAJOR contribution to their ability to compete with a low payroll. Not to mention developing a stream of MVP quality position players who eventually walked for bigger money.

      Third, Scott Hatteberg was a below average hitter overall for Oakland. OPS+ 99

      Also, let’s not discount how quickly the teams folded as soon as the playoffs rolled around.

      Not taking anything away from Beane because he has been a very good GM. But these points shouldn’t be overlooked in discussing his tenure.

  6. Matt Aromando - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    You have “the next-best team” listed as the wrong LA team, it’s the Angels, not the Dodgers.

    • shawndc04 - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      Yep. I didn’t think that was correct when I read it.

  7. Bob Loblaw - Jul 26, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    I think it is HILARIOUS how Scott Hatteberg’s name still comes up, as it did in the stupid movie, when the absolute 100% fact of the matter is that those early aught teams don’t win jack schitt without 3 names…Hudson, Zito, and Mulder and those guys were drafted by the A’s and had ZERO to do with “market inefficiency”. God I am so frigging sick of the nonsense. But whatever. Everyone tell themselves it is market inefficiency that has done it all for the A’s.

    Billy Beane is a GREAT talent evaluator and finds diamonds in the rough. He also makes great trades and never gives out crappy contracts. Basically, Beane is the Bizarro Ruben Amaro who wouldn’t know how to spell C-A-T if you spotted him the C and the A.

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