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March 18, 2016

Fantasy Freestyle

Recapping the 2015 Model Portfolios

by Greg Wellemeyer

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Our positional coverage is all wrapped up and draft season is drawing to a close as Opening Day nears. One feature we’ll be rolling out before then is My Model Portfolio, wherein our staff members will each pick a roster using Mike Gianella’s final auction values. You’ll see those values shortly and our individual authors’ model portfolios will follow the week after next.

Before we get there, though, how about a little accountability on last year’s picks? Easy for me to say since I wasn’t here yet. I’m judging these purely based on how much difference there was between Mike’s preseason auction values and his postseason valuations. There is no consideration for roster balance or categorical strength, this is purely an evaluation of whose draft day roster created the most raw profit over the course of the season.

7th Place: Wilson Karaman, -$76 Profit

Position

Player

Price

Earnings

Profit

C

Mike Zunino

6

-10

-16

1B

Anthony Rizzo

29

28

-1

2B

Kolten Wong

18

15

-3

3B

Pedro Alvarez

10

12

2

SS

Jean Segura

10

15

5

CI

Howie Kendrick

10

14

4

MI

Pablo Sandoval

11

2

-9

OF

Yasiel Puig

29

3

-26

OF

Corey Dickerson

21

4

-17

OF

Christian Yelich

18

16

-2

OF

Jason Heyward

19

23

4

OF

Ben Revere

17

25

8

UT

Billy Butler

1

7

6

UT

Mike Napoli

3

3

0

TOTAL

202

157

-45

P

Hisashi Iwakuma

16

10

-6

P

Jose Quintana

10

9

-1

P

Drew Hutchison

6

-13

-19

P

Nathan Eovaldi

1

2

1

P

Wily Peralta

1

-18

-19

P

Trevor Bauer

1

4

3

P

Hector Rondon

8

18

10

P

Brett Cecil

8

8

0

P

Santiago Casilla

7

12

5

TOTAL

58

32

-26

What worked:
“Revere’s legs were worth $29 last year, and I see no reason to believe they won’t be again assuming he’s able to stay on the field for 150 games.”

What didn’t:
“Hutchison made rapid and vast improvements with his slider last year, his strikeout-an-inning stuff looks legitimate, I think there’s room for some surplus value here with even a modest step forward despite the park and division. Wily Peralta is the crown jewel of value in my rotation, as even in spite of an uneven first full season he generated $14 of return and I like him for at least that again this season.”

Verdict:
Wilson’s offense was ravaged by injuries (Puig, Dickerson) and a couple of horrendous performances (Sandoval, Zunino), one of which you couldn’t really have predicted the extent of. More than anything, I think this draft illustrates how hard it is in today’s game to build a solid foundation when you only devote 13 percent of your budget to starting pitching. It’s not a bad draft strategy necessarily, just a high variance one that requires vigilance on the wire during the season. Wilson wasn’t the only one buying Hutchison entering 2015 (I, for one, was also high on him) and had this been a real league, I’m sure he would have moved on quickly and found a better option. That would have offset some of the negative earnings, but there’s no guarantee that the replacements for the Hutchison and Peralta busts would have been positive contributors either.

6th Place: Keith Cromer, -$36 Return

Position

Player

Price

Earnings

Profit

C

Jonathan Lucroy

20

4

-16

1B

Adrian Gonzalez

24

17

-7

2B

Dee Gordon

21

41

20

3B

Josh Harrison

11

8

-3

SS

Jimmy Rollins

9

6

-3

CI

Joe Mauer

4

9

5

MI

Chase Utley

7

0

-7

OF

Christian Yelich

18

16

-2

OF

Matt Holliday

14

2

-12

OF

Melky Cabrera

14

14

0

OF

J.D. Martinez

11

26

15

OF

Marlon Byrd

7

10

3

UT

Victor Martinez

18

3

-15

UT

David Ortiz

16

21

5

TOTAL

194

177

-17

P

Jordan Zimmermann

18

12

-6

P

Hisashi Iwakuma

16

10

-6

P

Derek Holland

5

-2

-7

P

Taijuan Walker

4

7

3

P

A.J. Burnett

3

7

4

P

Kyle Lohse

1

-20

-21

P

Cody Allen

12

13

1

P

Tyler Clippard

4

9

5

P

Brad Boxberger

2

10

8

TOTAL

65

46

-19

What worked:
“I stayed away from risks for the most part, and I am of the belief that both Harrison and J.D. Martinez’ seasons were no flukes; while there may be some regression in 2015, they should still both be solid plays at $11.”

What didn’t:
“Iwakuma and Zimmermann should be fine, but I need two of the four mid-level starters I selected to deliver on my expectations.”

Verdict:
Unsurprisingly, injuries played a big role here, too, with Lucroy, Holliday, and Victor Martinez all missing time and playing compromised when they were in there. On the other hand, Keith hit big by buying into the 2014 performances of Gordon and J.D. Martinez. The former out-earned everyone except Paul Goldschmidt in 2015. As with Wilson’s team, a lack of investment in starting pitching hurt Keith. Zimmermann and Iwakuma were supposed to be the stable ones, but neither returned his price and the other four were no help. Holland was hurt in his first start and would have been replaced immediately, while Lohse was arguably the worst pitcher in the league.

5th Place: Jeff Quinton, $23 Return

Position

Player

Price

Earnings

Profit

C

Dioner Navarro

3

0

-3

1B

Adrian Gonzalez

24

17

-7

2B

Robinson Cano

30

18

-12

SS

Nick Castellanos

4

6

2

3B

Jimmy Rollins

9

6

-3

CI

Eric Hosmer

7

24

17

MI

Howie Kendrick

10

14

4

OF

Mike Trout

47

32

-15

OF

Matt Holliday

14

2

-12

OF

Jorge Soler

9

5

-4

OF

Alejandro De Aza

3

5

2

OF

Jarrod Dyson

1

8

7

UT

David Ortiz

16

21

5

UT

Billy Butler

1

7

6

TOTAL

178

165

-13

P

Cody Allen

12

13

1

P

Hector Rondon

8

18

10

P

Tyler Clippard

4

9

5

P

Zack Greinke

21

38

17

P

Jordan Zimmermann

18

12

-6

P

Michael Wacha

7

15

8

P

Masahiro Tanaka

6

16

10

P

Francisco Liriano

5

15

10

P

Wily Peralta

1

-18

-19

TOTAL

82

118

36

What worked:
Eric Hosmer earned $8 last year and I would consider that his floor. Jarrod Dyson has been a near-double-digit earner for the past three years. His role and speed are unchanged entering 2015.”

What didn’t:
“[I had] $14 dollars remaining of which I was first inclined to spend on the $12 Mookie Betts, but then opted for the boring production of $14 Matt Holliday, figuring I needed pop more than I needed stolen bases.”

Verdict:
See, Royals fans. Some of Baseball Prospectus believed in you. Jeff correctly identified Dyson as an easy profit because of others’ reluctance to pay for a non-starter. Interestingly, Jeff’s least profitable offensive players were simultaneously some of his best. Nobody’s going to call Trout a bad buy even though this analysis says he took $15 off the bottom line. There’s value in a guaranteed $30-plus performer that a straight up earnings-minus-cost calculation doesn’t capture. Despite the fact that Jeff spent more on his pitching staff than five of the other six teams, the $36 of profit he turned bettered everyone else, even after accounting for Perlata being in the red by $19. It’s possible to spend big and profit big at the same time.

4th Place: J.P. Breen, $35 Return

Position

Player

Price

Earnings

Profit

C

Wilson Ramos

8

3

-5

1B

Prince Fielder

18

22

4

2B

Brett Lawrie

9

11

2

SS

Ian Desmond

32

11

-21

3B

Nolan Arenado

20

30

10

CI

Kris Bryant

8

25

17

MI

Erick Aybar

9

12

3

OF

Bryce Harper

27

36

9

OF

Christian Yelich

18

16

-2

OF

Jorge Soler

9

5

-4

OF

Adam Eaton

4

22

18

OF

Michael Cuddyer

2

4

2

UT

Brandon Moss

8

3

-5

UT

Danny Santana

3

0

-3

TOTAL

175

200

25

P

Madison Bumgarner

24

28

4

P

Jacob deGrom

14

26

12

P

Michael Pineda

8

7

-1

P

Masahiro Tanaka

6

16

10

P

Taijuan Walker

4

7

3

P

Kyle Lohse

1

-20

-21

P

Cody Allen

12

13

1

P

Drew Storen

12

9

-3

P

Tyler Clippard

4

9

5

TOTAL

85

95

10

What worked:
“About to turn 24, Arenado posted a .213 ISO and historically has hit for average. If he can reach 600 plate appearances, the possibilities are endless. [Kris Bryant will ] be in Triple-A for a few weeks, but for $8, I’m gonna bite the bullet to reap the later rewards. Too much talent here.”

What didn’t:
“With guys like Pineda, Tanaka, and Walker, who have significant injury/innings concerns, a consistent innings eater like Kyle Lohse fits beautifully.”

Verdict:
It’s not like players of Bryant’s caliber come along all that often, but I think there’s an important lesson to learn from J.P.’s quote about the blue-eyed wunderkind above. Yes, there was uncertainty about when he would arrive in Chicago but few questioned whether he would produce he got there. The final line might have exceeded any reasonable expectation but at $8, there was far more upside than risk. J.P. rightly jumped on the talent. That was, uh, not the case with Lohse, who sunk an otherwise excellent staff that required relatively heavy investment but mostly earned it back.

3rd Place: Bret Sayre, $40 Return

Position

Player

Price

Earnings

Profit

C

Brian McCann

11

11

0

1B

Adam Lind

4

15

11

2B

Howie Kendrick

10

14

4

SS

Starlin Castro

17

9

-8

3B

Chris Davis

19

26

7

CI

Mike Napoli

3

3

0

MI

Aaron Hill

4

1

-3

OF

Mike Trout

47

32

-15

OF

Christian Yelich

18

16

-2

OF

Ben Revere

17

25

8

OF

Mookie Betts

12

27

15

OF

Joc Pederson

6

5

-1

UT

David Ortiz

16

21

5

UT

Travis Snider

1

0

-1

TOTAL

185

205

20

P

Adam Wainwright

18

2

-16

P

Carlos Carrasco

12

20

8

P

Garrett Richards

8

12

4

P

Masahiro Tanaka

6

16

10

P

Brandon McCarthy

5

-1

-6

P

Danny Duffy

5

1

-4

P

Carlos Martinez

1

14

13

P

Cody Allen

12

13

1

P

Hector Rondon

8

18

10

TOTAL

75

95

20

What worked:
“I’m a big believer in [Davis] getting back to high-end power-producer status in 2015, and while it may not be as fun as his 2013 season, there’s plenty of room for profit here, despite the batting average risk.”

What didn’t:
“My goal was simple when I was scrolling through Mike’s values: See if I could find enough well priced players to back into grabbing Mike Trout for my final outfield spot…we talk about how good Trout is, but it’s just stupid how much better he is than the next best player in both real and fantasy baseball.”

Verdict:
I bring up the Trout thing somewhat tongue-in-cheek but I do think there’s an important point to be made here. I’m not about to begrudge anyone for valuing Mike Trout more highly than every other player in baseball. I do too. But I do think it’s legitimate to question whether he represents enough of a comparative advantage for your strategy to be “buy Trout and figure the rest out.” To be fair, Bret said he worked the opposite way, building backwards while trying to leave enough room for Trout. But we know auctions don’t work like that. Trout is going to get called early. In all likelihood, there will be someone in your league who’s willing to go beyond the number on your sheet. Be disciplined. It doesn’t make sense to fixate on one guy, cost be damned.

2nd Place: Matt Collins, $45 Return

Position

Player

Price

Earnings

Profit

C

Yan Gomes

17

1

-16

1B

Adrian Gonzalez

24

17

-7

2B

Howie Kendrick

10

14

4

SS

Nolan Arenado

20

30

10

3B

Xander Bogaerts

12

24

12

CI

Mike Napoli

3

3

0

MI

Jimmy Rollins

9

6

-3

OF

Bryce Harper

27

36

9

OF

Christian Yelich

18

16

-2

OF

Matt Holliday

14

2

-12

OF

Melky Cabrera

14

14

0

OF

A.J. Pollock

9

39

30

UT

Joc Pederson

6

5

-1

UT

Logan Morrison

1

5

4

TOTAL

184

212

28

P

Chris Sale

23

23

0

P

Hisashi Iwakuma

16

10

-6

P

Mat Latos

11

-4

-15

P

Brett Cecil

8

8

0

P

Michael Wacha

7

15

8

P

Francisco Liriano

5

15

10

P

A.J. Burnett

3

7

4

P

Andrew Miller

2

20

18

P

Edward Mujica

1

-1

-2

TOTAL

76

93

17

What worked:
“The $27 on Bryce Harper was a little more than I wanted to spend on my highest paid player, but I believe this is the year he finally breaks out into an MVP-caliber player.”

What didn’t:
“Mat Latos is on a sneaky good team in a big park with good career WHIP numbers. I’m expecting [him] to safely outproduce [his] price this year.”

Verdict:
Pollock was the single most profitable player on any of the seven rosters, returning $39 on a $9 investment. Good on Collins for buying into Pollock’s productive half-season in 2014. Pollock’s big breakout was accompanied by other young studs Harper, Arenado, and Boegarts cementing themselves in fantasy’s upper tiers, which helped offset a huge disappointment from Gomes. Collins also had the most profitable pitcher in Andrew Miller, who anchored a group with mixed results.

1st Place: Nick Shlain, $55 Profit

Position

Player

Price

Earnings

Profit

C

Francisco Cervelli

1

8

7

1B

Miguel Cabrera

40

21

-19

2B

Ian Kinsler

21

21

0

SS

Troy Tulowitzki

35

15

-20

3B

Kyle Seager

23

17

-6

CI

Stephen Vogt

1

9

8

MI

Rougned Odor

6

11

5

OF

Bryce Harper

27

36

9

OF

Mookie Betts

12

27

15

OF

J.D. Martinez

11

26

15

OF

Rusney Castillo

7

2

-5

OF

Austin Jackson

7

14

7

UT

Brandon Moss

8

3

-5

UT

Kevin Kiermaier

1

14

13

TOTAL

200

224

24

P

David Price

23

28

5

P

Jordan Zimmermann

18

12

-6

P

Taijuan Walker

4

7

3

P

Jake Odorizzi

4

12

8

P

Scott Kazmir

4

10

6

P

Jose Fernandez

3

6

3

P

Joakim Soria

2

10

8

P

Nathan Eovaldi

1

2

1

P

Trevor Bauer

1

4

3

TOTAL

60

91

31

What worked:
“Once I saw that Stephen Vogt was only $1, I knew I wanted to grab him and a $1 catcher to save some money at the position with an eye toward making Vogt my catcher once he gains in-season eligibility there.”

What didn’t:
“Overall, this is going to be a very good offense. It should be because of how much money I spent”

Verdict:
That’s not exactly fair. It was a good offense. If you’d told Nick on draft day that Miggy and Tulo were going to combine for $36 in earnings, I’m sure he would have been concerned though. Big scores on Betts, Martinez, and Kiermaier helped make up that ground and Nick turned a solid profit on a couple other end-game options in Cervelli and Vogt. The biggest reason for the success of this draft was the pitching staff, which had only one player fail to earn his price (Zimmermann). Contrary to what we’ve seen from other teams, Nick was able to successfully employ a low-cost strategy. While none of his buys returned a double-digit profit, all of them offered steady, positive production.

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

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Staff Picks,  Model Portfolio

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<< Previous Article
Winter Is Leaving (03/17)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Ana... (03/17)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Auc... (03/24)
Next Article >>
Transaction Analysis: ... (03/18)

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