2015 Greg Spira Baseball Research Award Winner Named

By Paul Riegler on 27 April 2015
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The winner of the 2015 Greg Spira Baseball Research Award, named in honor of Frequent Business Traveler’s late co-founder and managing editor, was announced Monday.

Lewis Pollis, a 2014 graduate of Brown University, won first prize for his essay, “If You Build It: Rethinking the Market for Major League Baseball Front Office Personnel.” Polis made a presentation about the topic, originally his senior honors thesis in economics, at the 2014 Society for American Baseball Research conference.

The judges held that the essay exemplified the type of work that the Greg Spira Award was created to honor.

The Greg Spira Baseball Research Award is presented annually on April 27, Greg Spira’s birthday, in recognition of the best published article, paper, or book containing original baseball research by a person 30 years old or younger.

In 1991, two years before the invention of the first Web browser, Mr. Spira founded the Internet Baseball Awards. He was considered a pioneer in Usenet online baseball discussion groups including rec.sport.baseball, and helped found Baseball Prospectus, a Web site that focuses on the sabermetric analysis of baseball.

The winning essay discusses how it is possible to quantify Major League Baseball teams’ front offices, evaluating baseball operations employees, whose “research, advice, and decisions shape their teams’ compositions and strategies long but whose salaries imply that their effects on their teams’ win-loss records are generally insignificant.”

A key point was that these staff members were underpaid, given the dollars at stake. “I find that a single standard deviation of player-investing ability at the GM level (including the contributions of employees working under the GM) is worth nearly eight wins a year, which would have had a market value of $53 million in the 2013 free agent market. Given that the highest-paid executive in the game is paid less than $4 million, this suggests the existence of a massive inefficiency in the market for GMs.”

Pollis will receive $1,000 in addition to the award.

Second prize and $200 went to Cee Angi for “We’ve Been Friends Long Enough, You’ll Understand,” published on SB Nation Longform, and Rob Arthur received third prize and $100 for “Analytic Value of the Crack of the Bat,” published on Baseball Prospectus.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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