Contact Committee Presents Pro Baseball Executive Billy Beane Beane, Oakland A’s executive vice president of baseball operations and subject of the bestselling novel “Moneyball,” will speak at W&L on March 3.
Washington and Lee University’s Contact Committee is excited to host Billy Beane, executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s and subject of the bestselling novel “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis. Beane will give a talk at W&L on March 3 at 7 p.m. in the University Chapel.
During his time as a professional baseball player, Beane played six major league seasons as an outfielder, infielder and catcher for the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and Oakland A’s. In 1989, he played his final season in uniform as a utility player on the A’s world championship team. After retiring as an active player in spring 1990, he joined the A’s front office as the club’s major league advance scout and was promoted to general manager in 1997.
In 1999, Beane implemented a statistical strategy for the A’s that led one of the worst teams in professional baseball with one of the lowest payrolls to win six American League West Division titles, changing the common Major League Baseball belief that big payrolls equated wins. The franchise’s journey was chronicled in the 2003 bestselling book by Lewis, which was subsequently adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt as Beane. The film “Moneyball” received six Academy Award nominations in 2012.
Today, Beane’s strategy is known as the Moneyball philosophy: Using statistical analysis, small-market teams can compete with large-market franchises by buying assets that are undervalued by other teams and selling ones that are overvalued by other teams. For example, a player with a high on-base percentage was undervalued, while home run hitters were overvalued. Moneyball has changed the perspective of many sports executives and business leaders around the country and has been adopted by a wide array of organizations and industries. The statistical approach to decision-making has helped shape the way modern businesses view and leverage big data and employ analytics for long-term success.
Beane was named one of Street & Smith’s Sport Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2001 and rated 16th on their list of Baseball’s Heavy Hitters in 2004. In 1999 and 2012, Beane was named Sporting News’ Executive of the Year. Following the 2002 and 2013 seasons, Baseball America magazine named him MLB’s Executive of the Year. In 2018, Major League Baseball named Beane their first-ever Executive of the Year.