Lewis Pollis won the third annual Greg Spira Baseball Research Award. His winning entry not only grabbed the $1,000 first prize, it helped him graduate. “If You Build It: Rethinking the Market for Major League Baseball Front Office Personnel” was his senior honors thesis in economics at Brown University, from which he graduated in 2014. Pollis used transaction data and random effects modeling to estimate the variation in player-investing skill at the general manager level. He now works as a baseball analyst for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Cee Angi’s profile of Vin Scully, “We’ve Been Friends Long Enough, You’ll Understand,” took second prize. The piece appeared as a Longform feature at SB Nation, where she is a featured baseball contributor.
Rob Arthur’s “Analytic Value of the Crack of the Bat” won third prize. The article, which appeared on Baseball Prospectus, compared sounds made by the crack of the bat—harder hits producing higher frequencies. He is a contributor at FiveThirtyEight.
Ben Lindbergh was selected as winner of the second annual Greg Spira Baseball Research Award. Lindbergh’s essay, “The Art of Pitch Framing,” written for Grantland, analyzed the catchers best able to earn borderline strike calls, illustrating how skilled framers can get positive verdicts over less-skilled catchers—even when the identical pitch in a specific location is viewed by the same umpire.
Second prize went to James Santelli for “Pirates’ Defensive Shifts: The Hidden Secret Behind Baseball’s Best Team.” Santelli’s piece originally appeared on Pirates Prospects. He was a senior at the University of Southern California, majoring in Broadcast and Digital Journalism and minoring in Sports Media Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Third prize was awarded to Noah Woodward, whose piece on declining pitch movement over the course of a game, “Loss in Movement as the Game Progresses” appeared in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2014. A senior economics major at Davidson College, Woodward wrote for BeyondtheBoxScore.com as well as the Hardball Times.
Trent McCotter was selected as winner of the first annual Greg Spira Baseball Research Award in 2013. His essay, “Cal Ripken’s Record for Consecutive Innings,” compiled for the first time the correct total of consecutive innings (8,264) played by the Orioles’ great shortstop between 1982 and 1987.
Second prize went to Dan Farnsworth’s article on the economics of team restructuring, “Is Rebuilding Worth It?”
Third prize went to Caleb Hardwick’s detailed Web site and database about baseball in the 25th state: Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia.