The film Moneyball is about a General Manager for the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane, who faces the problem of finding a way to compete against large market teams that have a bunch of money to spend on high caliber players. Due to the Oakland Athletics being a small market team, they are unable to keep up with large market teams that use their money to sign these all-star quality players. Billy Beane hired Peter Brand from the Cleveland Indians and used his brilliant idea to acquire underprivileged players based on mathematical statistics to create and build a successful and winning team without the payouts of large salaries.
Together they built an unorthodox team that countered and challenged the traditional way of thinking in baseball. Problem Identification The film Moneyball is a movie about going against the grain and turning the traditional way of winning upside-down. The problem in this movie is figuring out a way to be successful with a significant less amount of money compared to big market winning teams. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, LA Dodgers, etc. are big-market teams that have a plethora of money to spend on all-star caliber players that win and put fans in the stands.
Teams like Oakland are in a small-market, have an extremely low budget, and do not have a rich history of winning. These teams are at a major disadvantage due to the fact that Major League Baseball does not have a salary cap. Following the traditional way of signing the flashy players that hit a lot of homeruns, have a high batting average, strikeout a ton of hitters, or steals a lot of bases is not possible for the A’s and other small-market teams, because it is too expensive.
Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, has to figure out a way to change his ways because the old system does not work. Strategic Analysis The movie starts out showing the A’s losing in the playoffs to the Yankees. Billy Beane is angry because he knows this was his last shot at winning for a little while because he was losing his star players, Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi, for next season. They are going to lose them due to the lack of money the A’s have. Other teams are going to flash money at these players to sign them.
Billy Beane is tired of getting out bid by these teams and losing because they cannot succeed in this system they are playing in. So, Beane decides to think differently and flip the system upside down. He wants to surround himself with people who think differently and can build a team without the high paid perennial all-stars. Beane finds an employee, Peter Brand, who works for the Cleveland Indians who focuses on statistical analysis of unpopular statistics, like on base percentage, and uses algorithms to find players who produce runs and pitchers who get outs.
Billy brings him to Oakland and hires him as his second hand man. Beane goes all-in in finding underprivileged players who will work well in a system that focuses on putting hitters on base to score runs, and pitchers with good walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) that produce outs. Beane fired scouts and traded players that did not believe in the system. It even took his manager, Art Howe, a while to buy into Beane’s unorthodox system. Here is a VRIO analysis of Billy Beane’s revolutionary strategy:
Value: The value of finding underprivileged players that other teams pass on because they do not fit the traditional way of winning is high. Beane uses Peter Brands and his different way of thinking that no other team is doing, to find very affordable players that will produce wins for the A’s. Beane is able to manipulate other GM’s into getting players he wants because they don’t value them like he does. They actually believe they are winning when trading with Beane Rarity: As stated before Billy Beane and Peter Brand are doing something that nobody else is doing.
The rarity is very high because their way of scouting and finding players is innovative, and at the time something no organization in sports has attempted. Imitability: Their system is imitable. Any organization in baseball is able to do this because low budgets are not rare and are not hard to obtain. The hardest part about copying this system is the know-how of doing it. Beane’s general manager skills are not easy to copy because he sees players differently. He was the classic five-tool player, freakish athlete drafted out of high school.
He was a first round MLB draft pick that burnt out after failing to transfer his skills to the professional level. He knows from personal experience that the good-looking, athletic, attractive player is not always the correct choice. Just because someone throws hard or hits the ball a mile, doesn’t mean he is a good player. The mental part of the game is the most important, and many people over look that. It likes Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is 90% mental – the other half is physical. ” Organization: Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics is a close community like organization.
They lack the luxurious facilities and high spending budget, but they agree and believe in Billy Beane’s strategy. As mentioned before, this was not always the case. The owner of the A’s told Billy to make it work. So, Billy put all his chips into building an unorthodox low-cost team that could win. He fired and traded people that did not want to buy into his system. Most people at first were not on board, but after they started a 20 game winning streak players and coaches believed. Team unity leads to wins, and wins can solve anything in sports.
Solutions/Recommendations The solutions and recommendations for the Oakland Athletics are to keep up with Billy Beane’s strategy. The only way to gain more money and revenue is through wins. In order to get wins they need to continue to find players that fit their successful small budget strategy. Billy Beane revolutionized baseball by thinking different. So, continue to think different and be innovative. Always be thinking of something others don’t, and be the first to introduce it. The only thing they should change is learning to draft and develop players better.
Billy Beane and the A’s are notorious for wielding and dealing players. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, they should to try and find players in the draft and develop them through their farm system. This can be beneficial because they can teach their players their strategy and tailor them to their system while saving money on cheap draft pick salaries. Billy Beane is a good example of how to change the way people and organizations think and act by being innovative and different.