McDaniel, Waldon, Wills win 2020 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards

Rachael McDaniel, Emily Waldon, and Meredith Wills were announced as the winners of 2020 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards on Saturday, March 14 at the ninth annual SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

McDaniel was voted as the winner of the Historical Baseball Analysis/Commentary Award for her article, “The Meaning of Ichiro,” published at FanGraphs on March 21, 2019. McDaniel is the managing editor of The Hardball Times and a contributing writer at FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, VICE News, and other websites. She holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of British Columbia.

Waldon was voted as the winner of the Contemporary Baseball Commentary Award for her article “I Can’t Afford to Play This Game: Minor Leaguers Open Up About the Realities of Their Pay and the Impact on Their Lives,” published at The Athletic on March 15, 2019. Waldon writes about the Detroit Tigers’ minor league system for The Athletic Detroit. She began covering the beat in 2015, beginning with the Class-A West Michigan Whitecaps and moving on to include affiliates from the Gulf Coast League to Triple-A Toledo. She moved to 2080 Baseball in 2016, focusing on entry-level scouting and player evaluation, video content and player features, and joined The Athletic in 2018.

Wills was voted as the winner of the Contemporary Baseball Analysis Award for her article “Yes, the Baseball is Different — Again. An Astrophysicist Examines This Year’s Baseballs and Breaks Down the Changes,” published at The Athletic on June 25, 2019. Wills is a Sports Data Scientist for SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT) and a contributing writer for The Athletic. In her spare time, she is also a knitting designer, working in partnership with both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to create reproductions of vintage baseball sweaters.

The SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards recognize baseball researchers who have completed the best work of original analysis or commentary during the preceding calendar year.

Voting for the winners was conducted online from January 31-February 10, 2020, at,,,, and, with results weighted equally at 20%.

To view past winners of the SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards, click here.


Originally published: March 14, 2020. Last Updated: July 27, 2020.