#27: Billy Beane
Billy Beane, the player, was featured prominently in the 30 Worst Players in A’s History, which is no surprise given that he flopped miserably on the field. However, it’s hard to discredit the impact he’s had on the game and the organization in an executive capacity. After being the general manager for the better part of two decades, Beane was promoted to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations this fall.
Beane is famous for his “moneyball” strategies, often targeting players that other teams are not inclined to take a gamble on. This has had moments of success, and moments of failure. Trades like the Jeff Samardzija or Matt Holliday deals, in which Beane has gambled on sending a top prospect away in favor of a proven player, have not worked out well. Similarly, his biggest free agent contracts – Eric Chavez, Coco Crisp, Billy Butler and others – have often not turned out the way he might have hoped.
That said, he’s also made a lot of brilliant moves, and he’s certainly gotten results in terms of playoff appearances. Despite having one of the smallest payrolls in baseball to work with, his teams have posted a .539 win percentage in his 17 seasons as GM, including six AL West titles and a pair of Wild Card berths. Only the Yankees, Cardinals and Braves have more postseason appearances in that time frame.
Sometimes, like in the weeks after the Josh Donaldson trade, it’s hard to like Beane. However, something he’s doing must be working to make him as successful of a GM as he has been during his tenure.
Next: Top 50 Oakland Athletics: #26