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Mike Gianella recently released his latest mixed league Bid Limits for 2016, which reignited 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 our fantasy overlord, Mr. 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. Greg Wellemeyer recently took a look at how last season’s Model Portfolios turned out.

You are required to pick at least one of Adam Lind, Kyle Schwarber, Billy Hamilton, Anthony DeSclafani, Jaime Garcia, or Edwin Jackson. Okay, maybe I made that part up.

The Process
When entering an auction with the typical amount of $260 burning a hole in my pocket, I will usually set aside $190-$200 for offense and trust that I’ll be able to find enough pitching that I like with my remaining cash. This year I spent $194 on offense and $66 on pitching, as you will see below. Normally, I build my roster by first dumpster-diving for cheap pitching and determining a path from there, but this season most of the hurlers I liked fell in the $5-$7 range, instead of the $1-$3 range that I usually prefer to shop in. I decided to grab the pitchers that I liked that fell around $5 and build from there, adding aces above and bargains below, while keeping in mind that I wanted to stay in the $60 ballpark. On offense, my strategy was to build around a strong infield led by Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Correa, and an elite third baseman—while continuing to build a balance of speed and power from there.

The Offense

Pos

Player

Bid

Team

C

Wilson Ramos

5

Washington Nationals

1B

Paul Goldschmidt

44

Arizona Diamondbacks

2B

Starlin Castro

6

New York Yankees

SS

Carlos Correa

36

Houston Astros

3B

Manny Machado

40

Baltimore Orioles

CI

Danny Valencia

2

Oakland Athletics

MI

Marcus Semien

6

Oakland Athletics

OF

Adam Eaton

16

Chicago White Sox

OF

Ender Inciarte

9

Atlanta Braves

OF

Stephen Piscotty

8

St. Louis Cardinals

OF

Odubel Herrera

5

Philadelphia Phillies

OF

Matt Holliday

5

St. Louis Cardinals

DH

Mark Trumbo

9

Baltimore Orioles

DH

C.J. Cron

3

Los Angeles Angels

Total

$194

After making the determination that my offense was going to be built around Goldy, Correa, and an elite third baseman—one of Machado, Donaldson, Bryant, or Arenado—I calculated that I was going to be at a minimum of $111 to fill the three positions if I went with Arenado, with the cost rising to $120 between the trio if Machado was the pick. If I were to stay within the $200 for offense that was my preference, that would leave me with an average of under $6 per player to fill out the rest of my hitting squad. Not ideal, but certainly doable.

At catcher, Wilson Ramos is always a health risk, but he’ll be plenty incentivized to stay on the field this year as he enters the free-agent market after the season. PECOTA projects him for a .252 AVG and 17 home runs, and I’ll take the slight over on both. If he hits for a .260 AVG with 18-20 home runs as I expect, he’ll be more than worth the price of a foot-long sandwich and he’s looked outstanding this spring after getting LASIK surgery in the offseason. After hitting .372/.395/.646 over the last 36 games of the regular season, new Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro has continued his good work this spring, after turning the ripe old age of 26 last week. I’ll bet on Castro and his talent for half the price of the greatness that is DJ LeMahieu all day long, and a .270-.280 AVG with 18-20 home runs and 5-10 steals is certainly within reach for the former Cub in his first year donning pinstripes.

Oakland teammates Danny Valencia and Marcus Semien are two of my favorite undervalued hitters heading into the season and getting Valencia for $2 is probably the value play I’m most confident will turn a tidy profit. My extended thoughts on Semien can be found here, and I feel that both A’s will be top-10 options at their respective positions, making the $8 price for the pair something that I was thrilled to pay. Eaton and Inciarte were both top-30 outfielders in 2015, and I don’t see that changing this season, particularly if Eaton maintains the power that he showed over the second half of 2015. Eaton, Inciarte, and Herrera should provide plenty of speed, and I like Mark Trumbo and C.J. Cron to each provide 30 or more home runs to help offset the lack of power that the speedsters entail. If healthy, Matt Holliday should provide plenty more than $5 in value, and seeing some time at first base should help him do so. The decision that I wrestled with the most in the outfield was the option of pairing somebody in the $24 range (Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Yoenis Cespedes, or Adam Jones all valued at $24) with a $1 type like Socrates Brito, or going the more balanced approach with Eaton and Inciarte, and I ultimately chose the latter.

The allure of Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Correa, and Manny Machado doesn’t have to be explained, but I felt I was able to add a nice balance of power and speed around their five-category awesomeness. After Trout and Harper, I feel I secured the next three most-productive hitters on the fantasy scene and was able to add quite a bit of upside throughout.

The Pitching

Pos

Player

Bid

Team

P

Chris Archer

17

Tampa Bay Rays

P

Carlos Carrasco

16

Cleveland Indians

P

Raisel Iglesias

7

Cincinnati Reds

P

Jose Quintana

6

Chicago White Sox

P

Yordano Ventura

6

Kansas City Royals

P

Patrick Corbin

5

Arizona Diamondbacks

P

Anthony DeSclafani

2

Cincinnati Reds

P

Alex Colome

5

Tampa Bay Rays

P

Jeremy Jeffress

2

Milwaukee Brewers

Total

$66

After spending $194 filling out the hitting side of the equation, I knew I was going to have to channel my inner Nappy Roots and build my pitching staff while ballin’ on a budget. And that budget was exactly $66. I typically build my staff from the bottom up, starting with my three or four favorite offseason targets and then evaluating from there. Most years, those three or four targets fall in the $1-$3 per range, but this year three of my favorite targets in DeSclafani, Corbin, and Iglesias cost a total of $14 for the trio. That left me with $52 to fill the remaining six pitchers, and I decided to scour the reliever market for cheap saves, which is one of my (least) favorite things to do in general. I settled on Alex Colome for $5 as I think he has a strong chance to be the primary closer for the entirety of the season, even after Brad Boxberger returns and presumably continues to walk everybody in sight. To be fair, I settled on Jeffress after the Fresh Prince forgot how to take off his spikes, as his value is assuredly higher than the $2 price that Mike Gianella threw on him last week.

All right, $45 left to disperse among four remaining starters. That’s doable. Carlos Carrasco is a pitcher that I strongly feel will finish among the top 10-15 starters in 2016, so I’ll happily grab him for $16. Jose Quintana is chronically undervalued in fantasy circles, and I’ll hope that an improved White Sox offense will lead to a better win total in 2016 and scoop him up for $6. If the Yordano Ventura that showed up after his “demotion” last season is around in 2016, he’ll also return a nice profit beyond his $6 price tag.

Julio Teheran for $7 also strikes me as something that I’d be interested in, and while I have no illusions of a return to the 2.89 ERA that he posted in 2014, I think he’s at least a half-run better than the 4.04 ERA of 2015. Well, that’s my staff, and I’m pretty happy with it overall, particularly the five starters purchased in the $5-$7 range.

After utilizing the novel concept of a calculator, it appears that my selections have left me with a surplus of $10. Oh, how to best implement these newfound riches? How about an upgrade from the aforementioned Teheran to Chris Archer? Sounds good to me, and now I’m especially happy with a rotation led by Archer and Carrasco, both potential fantasy aces, sprinkled with a bit of upside amongst the other five starters.

Prediction
With Goldschmidt, Correa, and Machado anchoring the offense, what could go wrong? Seriously though, this team obviously needs the three superstars to stay healthy and produce to have any chance. I feel pretty good about the diversity among the rest of the hitters and they should provide a nice mix of power and speed, while balancing out the batting-average category. The pitching staff could get killed in the save category if Colome or Jeffress don’t hold the closer job, but that’s why there wasn’t a huge investment made and replacements likely could be found in season via the wire if that were to occur. Archer and Carrasco are a dynamite 1-2 punch atop the rotation and although Corbin and Iglesias will both have their innings monitored, they both could provide value in the SP2 range if things go to plan. The real question is who will finish second, because this team is loaded. At least I can rest easy at night knowing that I have Jesus Christ in a baseball uniform on my team.

Thank you for reading

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jfranco77
3/28
I always enjoy these articles. I do think we're going to see a LOT of Quintana/Ventura/Corbin on the mixed versions.
GeorgeKimmet
3/28
I enjoy this exercise. Sorry if this question has been asked in the past, but has BP ever considered opening this up to the readers and having a season-long competition? Just curious...
jfranco77
3/28
Yes, that would be awesome!!