Oakland A’s: The success and failure of Billy Beane
By David Hill
Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s had a great deal of success during their run together. But there was one last mountain they could not climb.
It is safe to say that the Oakland A’s and Billy Beane had a successful run together. Their most recent World Series title coincided with Beane’s one year as a player for the A’s, after which he went into scouting and eventually joined the front office. He learned at the side of Sandy Alderson, picking up the basics of the sabermetric principles that he would become famed for later in his career.
Since taking over the A’s front office in 1997, he has done much more with much less than his peers. The A’s had gone from the highest payroll in the game in 1991 to essentially a bare bones operation, slashing costs on payroll whenever possible.
And yet, the A’s continued to find success. Over the past 23 years, the A’s have reached the postseason 11 times, winning seven AL West titles and finishing over .500 15 times. Considering their payroll limitations, that run of success is truly impressive.
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Yet, there was one final mountain that Beane and the A’s could not climb. Despite their success during the regular season, Oakland just could not find their way back to the World Series. The closes they came was back in 2006, when they were swept by the Detroit Tigers.
That has been the one knock on the A’s over the years. This has been a franchise that could build success over the long marathon that was the regular season, but missed that one piece they needed to get over the top. The A’s did their best to bring in those players when they could, but kept falling just short.
Whether it is fair or not, that has been the biggest knock on Beane during his tenure with the A’s. It also speaks volumes to the success he had with the franchise as the playoffs were not enough. The fans expected more even though they really had less to work with.
Billy Beane was unable to get the Oakland A’s over that last hurdle. But that should not tarnish his legacy.