keyboard_arrow_uptop

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. Below is Wilson’s offering, along with an explanation of how he assembled his crew.

I was in the lead when Bret put together our final update on this exercise last year, so I’m going to go ahead and claim absolute victory and, with it, the mantle of Defending Champion. So y’all should take heed of what follows, because as Defending Champion it’s only logical that I know a thing or two about a thing or two.

The Process:

Last season’s glory came from a “Trout and the rest” strategy. I’d never owned (and have never since owned) Trout in any format, so I made it a point to build my team around him. After plopping down a cool $46 for his services I only spent more than $20 on one other player (and only spent so much as $15 on three others). But winning the same way year after year is frankly boring, so I figured I’d mix it up a bit this season with at least a slightly more balanced, dare I say Belichickian roster model. I still only went north of $20 for three players, but I spread the high-end wealth around a bit more this year, and I think I like my offensive baseline that much more as a result. A successful hunt through the pitching bargain bins is the cornerstone of a strategy like the one I pursued both last year and again with this draft, as I’ve again committed north of three-quarters of my budget to hitters. The gambit paid off for me last year thanks to my then-$1 boo Corey Kluber and solid production from $5-6 guys Sonny Gray, Julio Teheran, and, to a much lesser extent, Shelby Miller. I’ve doubled down a bit by reaching even further into the discounts this year, and we’ll see if I’ve flown a little too close to the sun.

The Offense:

Hitters:

C

Mike Zunino

$6

1B

Anthony Rizzo

$29

2B

Kolton Wong

$18

3B

Pedro Alvarez

$10

SS

Jean Segura

$10

MI

Howie Kendrick

$10

CI

Pablo Sandoval

$11

OF

Yasiel Puig

$29

OF

Corey Dickerson

$21

OF

Christian Yelich

$18

OF

Jason Heyward

$19

OF

Ben Revere

$17

U

Billy Butler

$1

U

Mike Napoli

$3

Total

$202

Yum. Puig and Rizzo anchor my lineup and neither cashes a $30 paycheck, which is great because I think both make for strong bets to out-produce their bids this year and now I have the flexibility to make it rain up in here. I decided to go big across the board in the outfield, as the middle-class depth offers great opportunities for return on investment. Dickerson and Yelich are two of my favorite monsters in the making, and I see each being more than capable of returning $30 of value if they take the steps forward I think they will. 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. Meanwhile, Heyward’s garbled season at the top of Atlanta’s lineup was worth his bid level, and I love everything about his profile as an offensive breakout candidate this year in St. Louis.

Three of my favorite guys in this draft are Alvarez, Napoli, and Butler. I’m not entirely sure why everyone’s so down on Alvarez. Yes, he’ll likely lose some at-bats to Corey Hart along the way, but they’re going to be the bad at-bats that didn’t help his baseline ratios or counting stat accumulation all that much anyway. He was also in the midst of demonstrating significant approach gains before injury set in last season. I wrote hearts around his name here earlier this offseason, and I’m way down for 30 bombs from him at that modest price. And then there’s Mike Napoli. Even in a kind of crappy, sleep apnea-riddled campaign last year he was worth $7 in standard leagues (and significantly more in OBP formats). He’s healthy and poised to hit sixth in a crazy-improved lineup this year. 20-plus homers and gobs of RBI isn’t a remote stretch. Butler, meanwhile, was also terrible last year and still returned $7. Given the track record I don’t think expecting a modest bounce back into double-digit value is unreasonable, and for a whopping one dollar investment I’m totally comfortable investigating the possibility firsthand.

Segura and Wong both represent upside plays of different stripes. The former’s off-field universe was one big black hole last year, but I believe in the talent and speed to expect better production this go-around. And I went over Wong’s potential relative to his draft price last week. His across-the-board skillset and job certainty is highly appealing at this price point, as he’ll offer a nice floor of production even if his AVG remains something of a dud.

Howie Kendrick and Pablo Sandoval offer attractively boring veteran profiles. Kendrick appears poised to slot in fourth in the Dodger lineup, which will help his standard .280-plus AVG and 25 HR+SB play up all the more with RBI opportunities. And Sandoval should be similarly situated in a fine run-producing slot in Boston’s potential juggernaut of an offense. The ballpark jump should help snag him a few more dingers than he’d otherwise hit into the Frisco fog.

As for Mike Zunino… well, his approach was atrocious last year, but he was also rushed to the bigs and he still clubbed 22 homers. His pitch framing and general defensive acumen is strong, there’s no internal threat to his playing time on the roster, and I think he offers enough potential for power return to offset his AVG even if he can only find a way to creep that mark into the .230-.240 range.

The Pitching:

Pitchers:

P

Hisashi Iwakuma

$16

P

Jose Quintana

$10

P

Drew Hutchison

$6

P

Nathan Eovaldi

$1

P

Wily Peralta

$1

P

Trevor Bauer

$1

P

Hector Rondon

$8

P

Brett Cecil

$8

P

Santiago Casilla

$7

Total

$58

Whew. As noted, I’m stretching the ol’ upside muscle a bit thin here, but I like my cheap dudes to take the steps forward I’ll need them to take. I’m perfectly fine building my rotation around two of the more criminally underrated starters around in Iwakuma and Quintana. Managers had an excuse to discount Iwakuma last year on account of the finger injury, but he doesn’t really have any business being this cheap. Even with the lost time he returned $21 in mixed leagues, and he owns the fifth-best WHIP in baseball since his debut. Quintana’s value got dinged last year by way of his scant nine Wins, but he pitches reasonably deep into ballgames and his support should be much improved this season.

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.

Eovaldi and Bauer are straight upside plays. It’s kind of remarkable Bauer’s still only a newly-minted 24, as he’s been one of those “on the cusp” guys for a long time now. After battling coachability issues and inconsistency through the last few seasons he showed the kind of glimmers of full breakout potential I was hoping to see last year. And Eovaldi’s development of a splitter this off-season has the potential to be a game-changer given his arsenal and arm slot. Hanging around Masahiro Tanaka certainly can’t hurt the effort.

My closers… well, they’re closers, and hopefully they’ll all stay that way and hook me up with 100 saves.