Billy Beane, the architect of one of baseball’s most remarkable turnarounds in recent years, has been selected by his peers as the Sporting News Major League Baseball Executive of the Year. The Oakland A’s vice president and general manager was presented with the award last night at the league’s annual GM Meetings in Indian Wells, Calif. It marked the second time that Beane has won the award, as he also was named Executive of the Year in 1999.
Beane, who has held Oakland’s GM post for 16 years, garnered 31 votes to finish ahead of the Washington Nationals’ Mike Rizzo (13) and the Texas Rangers’ Jon Daniels (6). Sporting News has presented the award since 1936.
Following a 74-88 season in 2011, Beane directed a major overhaul to the A’s roster last offseason. He traded away three All-Star pitchers in Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey, acquiring numerous young players who played prominent roles in the A’s second-half flourish which saw the team register the best record (72-38) in the Majors after June 1. Trailing Texas by five games with nine games remaining in the season, Manager Bob Melvin steered Oakland to a six-game, season-ending winning streak to finish 94-68 and surprisingly claim the 2012 AL West title on the season’s final day.
It was the first time in Major League history that a team has come back from a deficit of five or more games with fewer than 10 games remaining to win a division or pennant. The 2012 A’s, who faced a 13-game deficit to Texas on June 30, also became only the fifth team in Major League history to win a division or pennant after trailing by 13 or more games.
By season’s end, center fielder Coco Crisp was the only player in the A’s lineup who started at the same position the previous year. What’s more, Oakland featured an all-rookie starting rotation during the stretch run. A rookie pitcher started each of the last 14 games of the season, the third longest streak in Major League history, and a rookie started 22 of the last 24 games. Tommy Milone (13-10) and Jarrod Parker (13-8)—two of the young pitchers acquired in offseason deals—became the first rookie duo to win at least 13 games in a season since the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers Joe Black 15, Billy Loes 13).