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Who won the 2012 Draft? Part II

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Let’s explore Wins Above Average Slot

MLB: ALCS-Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In Part I we began our analysis of who won the 2012 draft from four perspectives: 1. Who drafted the best player, 2. Which team drafted the most WAR, 3. Which team benefited the most from their own draft picks, 4. Which team benefited the most not just from their own picks but from the picks of other teams that they acquired at low cost.

The winners were: 1. Astros 2. A’s, 3. Astros, 4. Dodgers.

Today we will analyze the 2012 draft according to a parameter I call Wins Above Average Slot. What this means is that over time each pick in the draft on average brings a certain return of Wins Above Replacement long term. Wins Above Average Slot is how many wins above (or below) this average a player in his given slot produces.

There are various calculations as to the average production at each slot in the draft. Many of them stop after the first 50 picks because by that time the curve has already hit near the bottom and flattens out as it declines only slightly from then on through the rest of the draft.

For our purposes, I will use the following chart which allows us to interpolate average WAR through pick 463. For the remaining picks, we can expect only marginal reductions in expected WAR. The blue line on the chart is for WAR after six-years, the period of team control. That is what we will look at.

Based on this chart picks 1-5 average 9 WAR. Picks 6-10 average 4.5 WAR; picks 11-15, 3; 15-30, 2; 30-70, 1.5; 70-225, 1, 225-463, 7.5; 463+ .5. Obviously these are approximations, but adequate as a baseline for comparative purposes.

As mentioned before, there are different calculations as to average wins per slot, and my interpolation of the data on the chart may not be perfectly accurate. And of course, WAR is by no means an exact science. But the purpose of this data is simply to compare the 2012 draftees according to some common denominator to see how well the best of them exceeded expected production based on where they were drafted.

In short, Wins Above Average Slot allows us to rate the best over-achievers in the draft and the teams which were best at drafting these over-achievers.

According to the data on this chart expected production drops quickly during the first round and by the time you get to the fourth round the expected production of the average draftee is not that much greater than in the fortieth round.

Below is a chart of the players rated according to Wins Above Average Slot to date. However, some players are later bloomers and haven’t had as much time to accumulate wins, so in the second chart I rate the players by their projected Wins Above Slot Average after six years.

Wins Above Average Slot Ranked

Draftee pick # WAAS as of 2020
Draftee pick # WAAS as of 2020
Carlos Correa 1 17.3
Corey Seager 18 15.8
Matt Olson 47 13.1
Marcus Stroman 22 12.7
Chris Taylor 161 11.5
Alex Wood 85 10.4
Max Muncy 1235 9.3
Mitch Haniger 38 9
Joey Gallo 39 8.1
Addison Russell 11 7.7
Matt Duffy 568 7.3
Josh Hader 582 6.9
Steven Piscotty 36 6.4
Jose Berrios 32 6.3
Michael Wacha 19 5.7
Edwin Diaz 98 5.3
Lance McCullers 43 5.3
Taylor Rogers 340 5.1
Devon Travis 424 4.8
Kendall Graveman 1097 4.7

The following chart ranks the draftees by Wins Above Average Slot after projecting each player through six complete seasons. I used a very simple projection technique. I averaged each player’s bWAR per season and added that amount for each year remaining for that player under team control. It is the simplest but not the most sophisticated method of projection, and I did not take into consideration time lost to injury. I added the actual WAR and the projected WAR and subtracted the league average WAR in the player’s draft range. As in the previous chart, this is an approximate ranking useful mainly for comparison purposes rather than for reliable absolute values.

Projected Wins Above Average Slot after six years

Draftee pick # Projected WAAS/ 6 yr Current bWAR Years remaing under control
Draftee pick # Projected WAAS/ 6 yr Current bWAR Years remaing under control
Matt Olson 47 25.7 13.6 3
Carlos Correa 1 22.6 26.3 1
Corey Seager 18 19.4 17.8 1
Max Fried 7 15.9 6.8 4
Marcus Stroman 22 15.6 14.7 1
Mitch Haniger 38 14.2 10.5 2
Chris Taylor 161 14 12.5 2
Max Muncy 1235 13.7 9.8 2
Josh Hader 582 13.7 7.1 3
Joey Gallo 39 13.3 9.6 2
Lucas Giolito 16 11 6.5 3
Alex Wood 85 10.4 11.4 0
Jose Berrios 32 9.2 7.8 2
Byron Buxton 2 8.9 11.9 2
Christian Walker 132 8.9 3.3 4
Matt Duffy 568 8.9 7.8 1
Edwin Diaz 98 8.4 6.3 2
Taylor Rogers 340 8 5.8 2
Addison Russell 11 7.7 10.7 0
Mallex Smith 165 7.2 5.5 2

So who has most outperformed expectations? So far it’s Carlos Correa, even though as a #1 pick expectations were already high. But if we look at who will produce the most wins above their expected slot after six years, it’s Matt Olson, assuming he can continue on his current pace.

Perhaps the best find in the draft was Max Muncy, whose 9.8 fWAR is 12th in the draft, and his WAAS is sixth, even though he was the 1235th person drafted in 2012.

So which team drafted the best values, the best over-achievers? We will use the Wins Above Average Slot after six years to be fair to teams that drafted young or drafted late bloomers. I’m only going to count the winners, the + players, and not deduct missed draft picks, which is the majority of them.

The Astros got (will get, presumably), 22.6 bWAR above slot from Carlos Correa, 6.5 from Lance McCullers, and about 2 from the pick of Brett Phillips. (traded of course) That’s 31.1 WAAS.

That’s not the best. The A’s drafted 25.7 wins above Average Slot in Matt Olson, 13.7 from Max Muncy, and 7.7 Wins Above Average Slot in Addison Russell. That’s a total of 47.1 WAAS. Of course, as already noted in Part I of this series, the A’s squandered the wins of Muncy and Russell.

Another one of the big winners in the 2012 draft was the Dodgers. Add Corey Seager’s 19.4 Wins Above Average Slot to Ross Stripling’s 5.3 for 24.7 WAAS. But for next to nothing they also later acquired Chris Taylor’s 14 WAAS, Muncy’s 13.7 and a portion of Alex Wood’s 10.4 WAAS.

Another team to top 20 WAAS is the Orioles, who discovered the 13.7 WAAS of Josh Hader, 8.9 from Christian Walker, and 4.4 from #4 pick Kevin Gausman. That’s 27 WAAS. Of course, we know the Orioles gave away Josh Hader for almost nothing, as did his next owner, the Astros.

Another 20+ team was the Mariners, who drafted the 8.4 player Edwin Diaz and also drafted, and then squandered, the 14 WAAS player Chris Taylor. They also drafted with the #3 pick Mike Zunino, who is projected to earn a negative 1 WAAS. But that doesn’t count, The Mariners got 22.4 WAAS from Taylor and Diaz.

Another clever team in the 2012 draft was the Padres, whose draft director was A.J Hinch. Although a late bloomer, first-rounder Max Fried has a projected WAAS of 15.9. A late pick, Mallex Smith, adds 7.2. Both these players were traded before they could help the Padres, but the Friars also drafted Zach Eflin, who added 5.4 WAAS, and another 1.5 from Travis Jankowski. The Padres total WAAS comes to 30 exactly.

Let’s not forget the Twins, who project to get 8.9 Wins Above Average Slot from Byron Buxton, 9.2 from Jose Berrios, and 8.0 from Taylor Rogers, for a total of 26.9 WAAS.

In summary, according to six-year Wins Above Average Slot, the Astros were second to the A’s, who, nevertheless, failed to exploit their picks as effectively. Any way you slice it, the 2012 tandem of Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers made the Astros one of the big winners of the 2012 draft.

I did a hell of a lot of work to prove what everyone already knows.

Oh well.