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Royals Minor League WAR Leaders

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How the Royals minor leaguers produced by Wins Above Replacement

Carson Cistulli has written several books for which he is not "famous" for. Carson Cistulli has written many more articles on the sabermetric friendly website FanGraphs. Now, "famous" may be an exaggeration, and one could dispute the fanfare of his articles, but Cistulli has generated notable name recognition through his articles on FanGraphs, for better or for worse.

In a recent article, FanGraphs has posted wins above replacement (WAR) of minor league players. One should pause after reading that sentence and say "Wait...WAR for minor leaguers doesn't exist...": enter The Cistulli. Carson has put his Masters in Creative Writing degree in action by calculating that very metric that once didn't exist, but now does.

A description from Cistulli's digital quill on the method of that calculation:

To calculate batting runs here, I've merely used the wRAA figure (weighted runs above average) one finds under the Advanced tab of the minor-league batting leaderboards. One notes that these numbers are not adjusted for park, but merely expressions of each batter's performance relative to league average. Having a park-adjusted batting line would be preferable, but also difficult to calculate given my limited skill set. As in most other cases in life, I have chosen the path of least resistance.

To calculate baserunning runs, I've utilized the Speed Scores (Spd) available for all minor leaguers, as no equivalent to Ultimate Base Running (UBR) is available at that level. Conveniently, Spd and baserunning runs (BsR) correlate quite strongly.

To derive each hitter's BsR, I've employed the formula depicted in the graph above (where X is the player's Speed Score), and then prorated the result to the relevant quantity of plate appearances.

Finally, with regard to defense, I've made no attempt even to estimate something along the lines of runs saved. Instead, I've utilized only a rough approximation of each player's positional adjustment - which figures one can derive (following the application of some minor arithmetic) from the Steamer projections available at the site.

Having first calculated and then found the sum of those first three figures (i.e. Bat, BsR, and Def), I then also added the replacement-run total [(PA / 600) * 20] for each player. The sum of all those numbers divided by the number of runs per win (10 is a fine estimate) provides a rough WAR figure for any player.

Enough about Carson Cistulli, let's talk about myself and Royals minor leaguers, and more importantly the work I have done in compiling the data that Cistulli he calculated.

Below you'll find a collection, then ranking of Royals minor leaguers in relation to their minor league WAR. There are qualifications for making the list. First, a player must have at least 200 plate appearances at one level (150 for Rookie or lower). Secondly, we have to talk about age. Like you see at some carnival rides, but reverse, a player must be this young at a certain level or younger to appear:

AAA: 25

AA: 24

A+: 23

A: 23

Rookie: 22

Lower: 21

Name Level WAR WAR600
Corey Toups Adv-Rk 3.3 7.6
Ryan O'Hearn Adv-Rk 3.2 6.5
Lane Adams AA 3.9 4.9
Offerman Collado DSL 1.6 4.4
Logan Moon Low-Rk 1.7 4.4
Whit Merrifield AAA 3.9 4.4
Frank Schwindel A 3.2 3.9
Joshua Banuelos Low-Rk 1.4 3.8
Brawlun Gomez Adv-Rk 1.0 3.8
Robert Pehl Adv-Rk 1.7 3.7
Yeison Melo DSL 1.5 3.6
Dominique Taylor A 2.2 3.5
Jose Sanchez DSL 1.1 3.5
Johnny Giavotella AAA 2.8 3.4
Chase Vallot Low-Rk 1.2 3.3
Ramon Torres A 2.6 3.2
Carlos Diaz DSL 1.3 3.1
Carlos Peguero AAA 2.1 3.1
Dexter Kjerstad A 1.5 3.0
Wander Franco Adv-Rk 1.5 3.0
Mauricio Ramos A 2.2 2.9
Hunter Dozier AA 3.0 2.9
Carlos Garcia A 1.4 2.7
Mike Hill Adv-Rk 1.1 2.6
Michael Antonio A+ 1.6 2.6
Francisco Pena AAA 1.4 2.3
Jimmy Paredes AAA 1.5 2.1
Yorly Martinez DSL 0.8 2.0
Cheslor Cuthbert AA 1.6 2.0
Orlando Calixte AA 1.3 2.0
Matt Fields AAA 1.6 1.9
Jose Caraballo DSL 0.6 1.7
Chad Johnson A 1.0 1.4
Joel Arias DSL 0.5 1.3
Cameron Gallagher A+ 0.7 1.1
Kenneth Diekroeger A 0.7 1.1
Elier Hernandez A 0.8 1.1
Raul Mondesi A+ 0.8 0.9
Brett Eibner AAA 0.5 0.8
Justin Trapp AA 0.5 0.8
Zane Evans A+ 0.5 0.7
Luis Valenzuela Adv-Rk 0.2 0.6
Bubba Starling A+ 0.5 0.4
Fred Ford A 0.3 0.4
Mark Threlkeld AA 0.3 0.4
Edinson Rincon AA 0.2 0.4
Jose Martinez Low-Rk 0.1 0.2
Brandon Dulin Low-Rk 0.0 0.1
Cody Stubbs A+ 0.1 0.1
Angel Franco AA 0.1 0.1
Ethan Chapman AA 0.0 0.1
Jack Lopez A+ -0.1 -0.1
Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado A -0.1 -0.1
Jorge Bonifacio AA -0.1 -0.1
Terrance Gore A+ -0.2 -0.5
Jecksson Flores Adv-Rk -0.2 -0.5
Amalani Fukofuka Low-Rk -0.2 -0.6
Daniel Rockett A+ -0.6 -0.9
Parker Morin AA -0.4 -1.0
Humberto Arteaga A -1.8 -2.2

Things to note:

While perhaps it doesn't validate the award, it does help promote the idea that Ryan O'Hearn was one of the best players in the Pioneer League, as named as the Pioneer League MVP, that he was worth 6.5 wins prorated to 600 PA.

Fellow Idaho Falls teammate Courey Toups was even better on a per 600 PA basis. Of even more anecdotal consideration, Toups and O'Hearn were roommates in college at Sam Houston State. Furthermore, Toups was an exception to the list criteria above. He was 23 years old, one year past my cutoff age.

If you recall, Lane Adams made his major league debut this past season, appearing in 6 games and recording 3 plate appearances. Adams of course went hitless in those PA's, accruing a -0.1 WAR by the more traditional, major league metric of WAR.

The best players at each level:

AAA - Whit Merrifield

AA- Lane Adams

A+ - Michael Antonio

A - Frank Schwindel

Advanced Rookie - Corey Toups

Low Rookie - Logan Moon

DSL - Yeison Melo

Now the production of the Royals top 10 prospects as ranked recently by Baseball Prospectus

Name Level WAR WAR600 BP Rank
Raul Mondesi A+ 0.8 0.9 1st
Hunter Dozier AA 3.0 2.9 5th
Chase Vallot Low-Rk 1.2 3.3 8th
Jorge Bonifacio AA -0.1 -0.1 10th
Elier Hernandez A 0.8 1.1 On the Rise