The American League West-leading Oakland A’s arrived at the 2014 all-star break with a record of 59-36 — baseball’s best mark. Seamheads will quickly note the outsized production of third baseman Josh Donaldson (20 HRs and .766 OPS), first baseman Brandon Moss (21 HRs and .878 OPS) and catcher Derek Norris (.294 BA and .879 OPS), while traditional types will note the A’s AL-best 3.09 ERA.
The real reason behind Oakland’s dominance is the same as it has been for years: general manager Billy Beane. Mr. Moneyball is once again squeezing incredible numbers from players no one else wanted.
It is well known that Beane was a stellar prospect and first-round draft pick of the Mets in 1980, but he flopped in spite of his perceived talent. The Baseball Hall of Fame archives now hold the praise once showered on Beane by scouts.
Twins’ scout Cal Ermer saw Beane while the young outfielder was at Tidewater, Va., the Mets Triple-A affiliate, in 1985. Ermer came away thinking Beane had potential. Among his comments (see full report below):
• “Good tools – run, throw, power, glove”
• “Trouble with curve and change”
• “Could be a good one”
Ermer wasn’t the only member of the Twins’ organization who saw promise in Beane as late as 1985. Minnesota scout Floyd Baker noticed Beane on Tidewater, a team with “the most young prospects” including Kevin Mitchell, Randy Myers and future Twins’ skipper Ron Gardenhire. Baker on Beane (see full report below):
• “Like this player”
• “Like very much”
Floyd Baker had a way with words, eh? Perhaps it’s not surprising that the Twins traded for Beane in 1986, dealing Tim Teufel and Patrick Crosby for Beane, Joe Klink and Bill Latham.
Beane never connected with baseballs like he did with scouts. He hit just .219 with 3 homers in 301 career at-bats. He ended his playing career with Oakland in 1989, but everything has worked out well between him and the A’s. The team will likely make the eighth post-season appearance of Beane’s tenure as GM this October.