The Oakland Athletics are the best baseball organization in the MLB. They do everything right, with a very low payroll. Everyone always wonders how each year (with the exception of this year) they are contending for the playoffs. Two word: Billy Beane. The best GM in baseball (ahead of Theo Epstein only because of the payroll difference). How does he manage to put together a solid, winning ball team each year, with such horrible funds??????
He gets bargin players. He treats MLB players like a day-trader treats stocks: Gets them at low price, and sells them for short profits. Here is how he does it: OBP, OPS, no SB's, no giving up outs (as some would call sacrifice bunts), and pitching his best pitchers out of the bullpen when the game is on the line, not when they are winning by 3 runs in the 9th inning.
Billy Beane creates closers. He will make a closer out of somebody, while still paying that person the minimal salary. He will collect about 30 saves, and many GM's will say that 30 saves means he is a good closer. Thus, he will probably also end up with about a 4 era, but his trade value will still be as high to get a great SP or a very under-rated player who gets on base a lot without taking up a lot of money.
He did a study with his assistant, Paul Depodesta, on what statistics produce runs, and essentially wins. They found nothing in SB's or sacrifices, what many people would call managers who do this, "aggressive." Billy Beane would call this behavior, "ape like." And he is correct. The two statistics that led to runs were: OBP and Slugging %.
But it just got better for Billy Beane. He then realized that no one else valued OBP and Slugging as high as he did. So he would be able to get these on base machines for minimal value. If you look can find "Win Shares,"* look at the players with the most W.S (who are not Albert Pujols, not all-stars, but regulars), and find the # of walks that player drew. You will be amazed.
Paul Depodesta then created the stats known as OPS. Combining OBP and Slugging %, he found the best players avalible for cheap price. Paul Depodesta had a proposition that he presented to Billy Beane: He calculated that OBP was worth roughly 3 times more than slugging %. Everyone in baseball thought he was out of his mind. Everyone but Mr. Beane. He bought it, and went on to having his ball club become one of the superior teams in the MLB for many years to come.
And that, my friends, is how the Oakland Athletics were built, and become a very good baseball team. The bad thing for the A's, is that now, many teams are catching on, like the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox do everything the A's do, but with the second highest payroll in baseball. The Indians do what the A's do with a similar payroll. Just check out their closer, Joe Borowski. Look at his era, compared to his set up men's ERA's. But GM's still think Borowski can be valued very high because of the high amount of saves.
I hope you enjoyed this article.