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Mike Gianella recently released his latest mixed league Bid Limits, and that annual rite of passage spurred an idea from Bret Sayre a few years back 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.

After steamrolling to glorious victory in my inaugural run two years ago, I hit a couple* (*all of the) bumps in the road last year in limping to an embarrassing last-place finish. Hell, Quinton beat me, and he’s handsome, so he’s not supposed to be actually good at anything. A disgraceful effort, and one for which I intent to atone this season.

The Process:

I got away from what had worked so well for me in Season One with my strategy last year. In 2014 I plunked down the (excessive) dollars required to obtain Mike Trout’s services, an cut corners at the back end of my roster to make it work. Last year I instead opted for a Belichickian middle-class roster, replete with no top-dollar types and plenty of good-not-great players and low-end flyers on the pitching side. Not this year, pal. I’m doubling down on high-end offensive talent and young upside, and I’m balancing my pitching ledger with boring safety.

The Offense:

Hitters:

C

J.T. Realmuto

$7

1B

Adrian Gonzalez

$18

2B

Rougned Odor

$15

3B

Maikel Franco

$17

SS

Brad Miller

$5

MI

Cory Spangenberg

$1

CI

Adrian Beltre

$15

OF

Bryce Harper

$42

OF

Mookie Betts

$33

OF

Stephen Piscotty

$8

OF

Joc Pederson

$7

OF

Delino DeShields

$7

U

Lucas Duda

$15

U

Byron Buxton

$11

Total

$201

Sweet Bryce, do it for me twice. Harper showed the world what he’s capable of last year, and anything close to a repeat performance by the reigning NL MVP would get me started down a proper trail toward the crown. I’m a big fan of the third, fourth, and fifth outfielders I was able to snag in this mock at the prices I was able to snag them; Piscotty’s just a solid hitter in the making, with the ability to post a fine average and rack up decent counting stat totals in three of the four remaining categories. It’s weird to call a second-year hitter safe, but he has the skill set of a player who can return low-teens dollar value with a full season of at-bats even if he doesn’t hit the upper ends of his projection range. Pederson’s second-half was abysmal, sure, but dude’s not yet 24, and we’re talking about a hitter two years removed from posting the first 30/30 season in the PCL since legendary guy-you’ve-never-heard-of Frank Demaree in 1934. He barely ran last year, but his new manager is Dave Roberts. You remember him, yeah? And the thing about very good young hitters is that they tend to adjust and grow. I have unwavering confidence that Joc Pederson can be a very good hitter. And DeShields might be my favorite play at his price here. His 25 steals last year do no justice to the kind of speed he possesses, and the OBP profile he showed throughout his minor league career translated reasonably well in his rookie campaign. He returned $15 last year, and the upside for much more is real and spectacular (and the downside is still that of a useful fantasy piece). Those bargains pave the way for another high-end investment, and I’ll choose to ride with Mookie as one of the best young five-category guys in the game.

Gonzalez and Beltre, along with Lucas Duda to a lesser extent, provide some old-man stability and counting-stat accumulation without too much aggregate batting-average risk. Odor and Franco both showed excellently in partial rookie seasons, and while the latter’s price tag leaves little margin for error, I’ll place a bet on full-season growth. Realmuto isn’t a great hitter, but he offers a rare if modest power and speed combination that keeps me better-rounded than I’d otherwise be. I love the value of Spangenberg at a buck here; I knew I’d have to scrape the barrel somewhere, and plugging him into my MI slot was a no-brainer. He cracked the top 30 in baserunning runs last year in just 345 plate appearances, and similar to DeShields, I see a bunch of untapped stolen-base upside here along with a won’t-kill-you average. Byron Buxton fills out my final utility slot, because he’s the guy in his price range with the best chance to absolutely explode across all five categories. If he does, it can put me in a dominant position, and if he doesn’,t the across-the-board skills and likely patience by his employers should still mean plenty of solid value accumulation.

The Pitching:

Pitchers:

P

Danny Salazar

$14

P

Hisashi Iwakuma

$9

P

Jeff Samardzija

$7

P

Wei-Yin Chen

$4

P

Anthony DeSclafani

$2

P

Eduardo Rodriguez

$1

P

Jonathan Papelbon

$12

P

Sean Doolittle

$8

P

Jeremy Jeffress

$2

Total

$59

It took me a little while to settle on this pitching staff, but the more I look at it, the more I kind of really like it. Would that I could bump up and grab Corey Kluber to lead the rotation, but at $19 he was just a little too rich for my blood. I’ll turn instead to his rotation-mate, who I hope will benefit equally from an upgrade Cleveland defense behind him for a full season. I love his mechanics, and with Tommy John surgery now that much further in his rearview I like the idea of his strikeout stuff playing over a full, 200-inning season this year. Iwakuma is kind of sliding under the radar this spring after his LA contract fell through on account of injury concern, and he’s certainly no spring chick. But his outstanding command and still-solid park context make him a nice gamble for WHIP help if he can hold up for another 180 innings. I don’t love Jeff Samardzija in a vacuum, but in that park at this price I do. I shared my feelings about Chen as a mid-rotation guy this year after he signed, and then DeSclafani and Rodriguez are two of my favorite late-game upside plays this spring. The former made a bunch of tangible adjustments in how he deployed his arsenal last summer and really came into his own down the stretch. And while the latter doesn’t have the best division or park context, he showed a nasty, complimentary arsenal last year, and the five bucks he earned last year over 120 inconsistent rookie innings looks like it should by a couple of floors south of his basement this season. I love him as a bargain flyer to round out this staff.

My closers, as I noted last year, well, they’re my closers. Papelbon’s consistency into his post-peak period can get lost in the shuffle of his on-field idiocy, but it makes for nice value at this price. Doolittle’s health and relatively stout supporting cast are cause for concern, but I’ll take my shot at the price, and Will Smith’s really unfortunate injury paves the way for Jeffress to emerge with a clear path to save opportunities that he may or may not be able to seize.