Billy Beane: Changing the Game

The Oakland A’s was one team that had the highest payrolls between the late 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. The owner Walter Haas ensured that considerable economic resources were availed to the team. The sale of the team in 1995 had adverse effects. The management was compelled to restructure its Compensation, Staffing, and Training and Development plan to continue being competitive, even with a freshly set up low operating budget. In 1997, Billy Beane was made the general manager of the team. He took on most of the theories that former manager Sandy Alderson held to. For instance, sabermetrics turned out to be the main style used to redesign Compensation, Staffing, and Training and Development plans (Alexander, 2003).

Compensation plans were altered since management could not afford to go on paying market or above market price for players. Other compensation methods for players had to be adopted by Billy Beane. To come up with a proper compensation strategy, management chose the type of work that had to be done, the knowledge and skills needed, and the rewards that would be given. Other factors such as nature of business, Union standing, size of business, management philosophy, geographical setting, profitability and employment solidity were also agreed on before executing the compensation strategy. The important step in the whole compensation progression was to verify what skills were hyped in baseball and which ones were underrated. Based on the case study, “the goal then was not to draft the finest young baseball players but also to pick and sign to below-market contracts the prospects that were underrated by many other clubs.” For instance, the Oakland A’s offered Scott Hatteberg a basic salary of $950,000 which was under market value as he was considered an underrated player, This sum was in accordance with the philosophy of management (Lewis,2004).

Staffing plans were altered to conform to the budget constraints imposed by the latest owners. The club could not afford to continue with the conservative style of recruitment and selection of new players. Another creative approach was required to sustain or get a competitive edge over all other teams. Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and others (KSAO’S) are the main drivers employed when staffing an institution. For example, Oakland A’s made use of sabermetrics to assess teams and players. This was a fresh approach that had not been tried by teams to select and recruit players before. The Oakland A’s recruitment/selection plan involved:

  • Use of on-base percentages as an evaluation of proficiency
  • Selection of college players
  • Pricing patient hitters
  • Choosing consultants or assistants who have mathematical and statistical proficiency

The staffing plans taken by Oakland A’s were eccentric when judged against the plans used by other teams. For instance, the conception of batting average, and prospecting for high school players were hyped by many other teams in the league. Billy Beane held that past feat was a potent indicator of success and not what a player may do or his ability to perform.

Training and development were also impacted by the economic state of Oakland A’s after 1995. The club had to employ fresh ways that were cheap, economical but efficient to train and develop players. Managers required a plan that would offer each player a chance to contribute to the whole operation. According to the case study, “they understood that they had to adopt a way to substitute that run production for the team in overall” (McGrath, 2003). Each player had a role to play, more like personnel in an assembly line. Management failed to provide adequate investment in the enhancement and development of players. This was obvious through the requirement to select and recruit outside for main players. Training had to be placed tactically with the goals of the team. The managers thought that training was just but a piece of the puzzle that sustained the entire operation.

Issues concerning Staffing, Compensation and Training and Development were incorporated together to craft a general HR strategy for the Oakland A’s. Staffing was the center that had an effect on compensation and training. For instance, the acquirement of Scott Hatteberg was tactically picked after the move of Jason Giambi to the New York Yankees. He was selected because he matched the selection measure of being an enduring hitter. Managers recognized him as a person who was underrated hence he could be paid at an under-market price, which was significant for the Oakland A’s at the moment putting into consideration their economic state. The selection activity involved picking potential candidates who could display their knowledge, skills, abilities, and others (KSAO’s). Conscripting college players, which is viewed as targeted selection criteria, at a much-advanced rate as compared to an open procedure turned to be their “ staffing style of preference’’ (Neikata, 2011). This kind of enlistment can adversely lessen the high costs related to recruitment requirements. Management acknowledged that college players had been more exposed and hence had relevant experience as compared to their high school prospects. Selecting and recruiting college players enabled the management to conscript players to under-market contracts, which greatly impacted their reparation tactics positively.

Training and development of the club’s players did not seem to be of utmost worry to the managers initially. Nevertheless, picking the correct individual with the KSAO’s prized by the organization would adversely have an effect on the manner in which players were paid and trained. Beane understood that sabermetrics that he made use of the principal selection method was underrated by many other teams that participated in the league. The Oakland A’s was therefore able to recompense its players at under market value relying on their understanding of market patterns with respect to using mathematics and statistical analysis. Eventually, Billy Beane and his contemporaries came up with a tactic that pooled staffing, compensation, and training. All bits had to be in the proper configuration to bring about efficiency in the organization (Shaughnessy, 2005).

Potential problems are evident with the HR strategy that the Oakland A’s adopted. The Oakland A’s depended too much on the conception of sabermetrics to choose players. Many other styles should have been used to get a variety of players for selection. For instance, Beane should have made use of several conservative styles of scouting and batting averages to recruit and select players. Secondly, perfect player retention was difficult for the Oakland A’s bearing in mind that they had a plan in place to reimburse players at under-market rates for their excellent performance. The reparation seemed to depend heavily on statistics as well as on-base percentages. There lacked a clear standard to tell between outstanding performers and awful performers. An awful or brilliant performer could begin with high on-base percentages. Accordingly, there lacked a way to recompense for diverse feats or a method of measurement. Despite Oakland A’s realizing fine talent it was nearly certain that they would in no way be in a position to retain them. The Oakland A’s had to be keen on increasing efforts on retention. In the end, the training and development of players appeared to be lacking in their HR plan.

The management needs to have carried out a needs evaluation, created an assessment plan, and chosen the proper training style. They should have recognized the gaps in the organization and enhanced or trained existing players to seal gaps. Succession strategy was important for this team considering the team’s incapacity to retain brilliant players. Budgeting limitations turned out to be a difficulty that Beane had to sign up a raw player who would need to be developed. This idea was in direct conflict to the philosophy of hiring for what someone has done and not what he is able of doing. This was the start of the collapse of the HR strategy.

The creative and innovative HR plan used by the Oakland A’s caused a competitive edge for the team for some time. Nonetheless, a blend of varying HR strategies would have boosted the likeliness of sustained achievement for the team.


Alexander, A. (2003). Fixing Baseball’s Competitive Balance Problem.” The Intellectual Conservative. London: Prentice Hall.

Lewis, M. (2004). Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W.W.Norton.

McGrath, Ben. (2003). “The Professor of Baseball.” New York: The New Yorker.

Neikata, C. ( 2011). Billy Beane: Changing the Game. 2011.

Shaughnessy, Dan. (2005). Reversing the Curse. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

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