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Mike Gianella recently released his latest mixed league Bid Limits, which spurred an idea from Bret Sayre called Model Portfolios, wherein the fantasy staff 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 5×5 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.

The Process

Having participated in several 5×5 mixed leagues over the years, I will usually either go with a Stars and Scrubs approach or use my standard strategy in -only leagues, which is to attempt to build a well balanced team. I do not have a strong preference either way, as I have had success using both approaches in mixed leagues, so it really comes down to player valuations that given year, specifically what will give me the best opportunity to construct a competitive roster. In this exercise, where the players’ prices are predetermined and there is no pressure of an active auction environment where quick decisions are necessary, I was able to review the salaries carefully and try to build the best team on paper. After much thought, and using value as my guiding light, I scrapped the Stars and Scrubs idea and decided that going the balanced-team route was the best option.

Here is the end product:

Position Players

C – Jonathan Lucroy – $20

1B – Adrian Gonzalez – $24

2B – Dee Gordon – $21

3B – Josh Harrison – $11

SS – Jimmy Rollins – $9

CI – Joe Mauer – $4

MIChase Utley – $7

OF – Christian Yelich – $18

OF – Matt Holliday – $14

OF – Melky Cabrera – $14

OF – J.D. Martinez – $11

OF – Marlon Byrd – $7

UT – Victor Martinez – $18

UT – David Ortiz – $16

Cost of offense: $194 (75% of my budget)

Pitching

Jordan Zimmermann – $18

Hisashi Iwakuma – $16

Derek Holland – $5

Taijuan Walker – $4

A.J. Burnett – $3

Kyle Lohse – $1

Cody Allen – $12

Tyler Clippard – $4

Brad Boxberger- $2

Cost of pitching: $65 (25% of my budget)

Hitting

I did not spend more than $24 on any one player, and only plunked down $20 or more on three players (all on offense). When putting together my offense, I wanted to spend between $185-$195 and ensure I had all five scoring categories well covered. I ended up spending $194 on hitting and feel I accomplished my mission, crafting an offense with a nice blend of power and speed, and selecting players who should amass those ever-important counting stats.

Of course, when you spend 75 percent of your budget on hitting, you should be able to build a formidable offense. Gordon, Rollins, Yelich, and Harrison will generate the stolen-base totals needed to keep me near the top of the SB category, and I have more than enough power to stay in the mix with the HR leaders. Typically, I try to avoid players who are batting-average drains, and as such, I selected just three players (Ortiz, Byrd, and Rollins) who had AVGs lower than .270 a season ago. 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. In the end, I looked to accumulate players in whom I saw the best value and build the team around that premise.

Pitching

My pitching approach was to grab two studs to anchor my staff, add one closer then fill out the remaining six spots with four mid-level starters with upside and two relievers who could boost my peripherals and accumulate some K’s, and any saves would be gravy. With only $66 to spend, I was able to build a staff very much to my liking; in fact, I decided to leave $1 on the table and ended up with a $65 staff. If you have checked out my previous articles, it should be of no surprise to see some of these arms on my roster. I drafted Iwakuma, Holland, and Walker in the CBS AL-Only Expert League and Burnett and Lohse in the CBS NL-Only Expert League. I am high on each of these hurlers this year, and these prices should yield positive returns. As for the relievers, Cody Allen showed me enough last year to make me think he can be a top closer in 2015, and Clippard and Boxberger are bargains at these prices even if they do not register any saves (which they should).

Conclusion

I believe this fantasy squad will be in contention for the long haul this season. The offense offers balance across the five categories while the pitching is stocked with strong value plays and arms with nice upside. In a nutshell, this team’s success hinges on the productivity of the staff I assembled. Iwakuma and Zimmermann should be fine, but I need two of the four mid-level starters I selected to deliver on my expectations. I am very pleased with the three relievers I picked to round out my staff, as they produced 204 1/3 profitable innings last year, including an impressive 277 strikeouts. Despite only investing 25 percent of my budget on pitching, I am excited about the potential of this staff. I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the course of the season, and if this team will be as formidable as I believe it can be.