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March 28, 2014

My Model Portfolio

The Rare "Spend More on Offense" Strategy

by Ben Carsley

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On Friday, March 21, Mike Gianella released Version Four of his mixed league Bid Limits, which spurred an idea from Bret Sayre called Model Portfolios, wherein the fantasy staff (and anyone else on the BP roster who wants to participate) will create their own team within the confines of a standard 23-man, $260 budget. The roster being constructed includes: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OFx5, UTx2, and Px9 along with the following standards issued by Sayre:

  • We are using the mixed-league values.
  • You can use any player not on Mike's sheet for $1.
  • The scoring will be 5x5 roto, so we're not just picking the players who will return the most value.
  • Eligibility is kept to the positions applicable right now. No potential in-season eligibility is to be considered.
  • We will track these teams throughout the season to see how everyone fared. Below is Ben's offering, along with an explanation of how he assembled his crew.

INFIELD

While I value what projection systems have to say to some extent, I'm a firm believer in creating your own individual fantasy rankings based partially on your own analysis, scouting—if applicable—and your personal strengths as a fantasy player. This is especially important in an auction league, as you need to compare how much you value a player relative to how much your league does as an entity.

That probably explains why I'm happier with this bunch than you may think. My love of Hosmer is well documented, and I think he'll be good for a .290 average, 30 homers, and 10-plus steals this year, making him one of the lynchpins of my team. Zimmerman is just as good as several more expensive players, and I'm happy to grab him for under $20. I love McCann in Yankee Stadium, and with some playing time at DH, and while Carpenter is a bit of an unusual buy for me, I think the price is right, and I needed someone with a high average to set up my Hardy pick, who's a nice value at $4. Abreu is a huge wild card and some of my success relies on him hitting 25-plus bombs without totally submarining my average, but I view him as a risk worth taking. Johnson keeps the overall budget down, provides 2B/OF flexibility, and could easily hit 15-plus homers, swipe 10-plus bases, and score 70-plus runs this season.

OUTFIELD

Here's the real strength of my team, with four players I absolutely love and Billy Hamilton. Bruce is as reliable as they come, and I can bank on 30-plus homers, 90-plus RBI, and a non-damaging average if he's healthy. I think Choo will do big things in Texas this year, and he's a relative bargain compared to the likes of Bryce Harper and Adam Jones here. I'm on record as saying I think Heyward will garner MVP votes this year, and grabbing him at $15 was my biggest no-brainer pick of the entire exercise. Myers could go off for 25 homers with a decent average and 10 steals. Hamilton is a bit pricy at $17, but his presence means I need to draft only one more speed player to be quite competitive in the category. I don't love Hamilton as much as some do, but I'm also not a part of the crowd who thinks he'll hit .210 and be in the minors by June. He's better than that.

UTILITY

I don't love eating up a utility spot with a guy who can't play anywhere else, but Martinez at $4 is just too good a value and too good a fit for this team to pass up. He adds average, RBI, R and double-digit pop at a huge discount. Davis is going for $1 while Ben Revere is going for $12, and all you're losing is some average in the process. I'll take the tradeoff given the rest of the composition of my team, and he and Hamilton let me enter the season feeling quite confident about my stolen base totals.

PITCHING

I love this rotation, because it's a fair representation of the type of fantasy staff I generally end up with. I usually eschew one truly elite arm and invest in several top-25 types, as I've done here with Zimmermann, Latos and Hamels. Yes, Latos is slated to miss a start and Hamels might miss three or four, but the value is too good to pass on. Miller, Teheran and Lester are all great bets for $6, too—I'd be willing to pay significantly more for each, I think—and this six-pack of pitchers basically guarantees that I'll be in contention for K, ERA and W. WHIP is a different story, but you can't project for a top-five finish for every cat. Well, you can, but I won't.

Being as thrifty with I was with my rotation and my utility slots gave me enough money to grab one shutdown elite closer in Rosenthal, who I legitimately have feelings for in real life. Cishek is undervalued because he plays on a crap team, but he's a near lock to return surpluss value at just $5. Hawkins might be out of the closer's role by June, but Rex Brothers isn't all he's cracked up to be (that WHIP, though) and Hawkins is better than many realize. If he gets 10 saves, he's worth the money; if he gets 20-plus, he's a huge steal.

  • Total Cost of Offense: $184 (70.7%)
  • Total Cost of Pitching: $76 (29.3%)

I don't head into auction leagues with planned ratios for pitchers and hitters, but if I'd had to guess the sort of breakdown between the two I'd end up with, it would look a lot like this. I'm a firm believer in identifying mid-level starters who can play up to no. 2-type levels, and I was able to do that three times here. That, along with my sources of cheap power (Hardy, Johnson) and speed (Davis) gave me enough savings to really splurge on my outfield, as well as nab a top closer. My team has some questions surrounding average and WHIP, but overall, it's a squad I'd be happy to take into the season.

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

3 comments have been left for this article.

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