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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.

The Process

First of all, I wanted a fairly conventional hitting/pitching split, 70/30, which works out to $182 on hitting and $78 on pitching. I wasn’t going to be too strict about it, though, allowing myself to go $5 – $6 in either direction if that’s where the value took me.

On the hitting side, I looked for players who provided both power and speed so my production in HR and SB would be broad-based and less susceptible to a significant injury to one or two players. Since we’re picking these rosters in late March and not making any transactions all season, spreading the production in each category across as many players as possible should make a single injury less catastrophic than it would be if the majority of the HR and/or SB came from one or two players.

As far as price points or tiers for hitters, I was agnostic and didn’t set any goals about how many players to buy for $40+, $30-39, $20-29, and so on. I also didn’t target any specific hitters, although the population of players who hit home runs and steal bases isn’t that big. I had a decent idea of the hitters who would be on my short list, even if they didn’t make the final cut.

On the pitching side, I just wanted to find value in whatever shape it took. Judging from the values I’ve been seeing and the one mixed auction I’ve completed so far this year, that would probably mean no pitchers for $25+ and several pitchers in the high teens or low twenties.

The Offense

Without further ado, here are my position players:

POS

Player

Bid

C

Yasmani Grandal

$13

1B

Brandon Belt

$14

2B

Ben Zobrist

$6

SS

Jean Segura

$9

3B

Maikel Franco

$17

MI

Jonathan Schoop

$6

CI

Daniel Murphy

$11

OF

George Springer

$27

OF

Carlos Gomez

$25

OF

Justin Upton

$24

OF

David Peralta

$13

OF

Kevin Kiermaier

$5

UT

Hanley Ramirez

$15

UT

Mike Napoli

$1

Total

$186

I ended up spending $186 on hitting, $4 more than a precise 70/30 split would have been. Mostly, this happened because I selected my pitchers first and ended up being happy with my rotation and bullpen for $4 less than initially budgeted.

I was able to fill my offense with a number of players who provide both HR and SB. Five of my fifteen hitters are projected by the BP PFM for double-digit totals in both HR and SB (Springer, Upton, Gomez, Ramirez, Murphy). Three more hitters missed double-digit projections in both HR and SB by only one or two stolen bases (Zobrist, Belt, Peralta).

I don’t have any hitters that cost more than $27. I also don’t have any single player projected to hit more than 27 home runs or steal more than 27 bases. Spreading my budget around like this and not relying on one or two players to win categories for me should make my team a little less susceptible to catastrophic injuries than most, which matters considering that the lineup I select now is the lineup I’ll be stuck with all season.

The Pitching

As stated earlier, I selected my pitchers before selecting most of my hitters. I know that my pitching bid limits and preferences are more idiosyncratic than my hitting bid limits and preferences, so I figured I’d be able to build a pitching staff I’d project for $78 in bid limits for few bucks less than that. Here’s the pitching staff I bought:

Player

Bid

Matt Moore

$1

Corey Kluber

$19

Noah Syndergaard

$18

Chris Archer

$17

Wei-Yin Chen

$4

John Lackey

$4

Aaron Nola

$5

Roberto Osuna

$4

Jeremy Jeffress

$2

Total

$74

I started off with Matt Moore at $1 because I’m extremely high on him this year. Earlier this week at BP, my bold prediction on the pitching side was that Matt Moore would be a top-20 starting pitcher in mixed leagues. At $1, I’m thrilled. Moore’s upside has always been enormous, and with 100 innings pitched last season between the minors and the majors, he should be past the post-TJ adjustment window and ready to excel.

I spread my pitching bets across a wide range of arms, not investing $20 or more in any single pitcher. That wasn’t entirely by design – I mostly just liked the value propositions on the pitchers I bought and would have been fine with a $20+ or even a $25+ pitcher if I thought the value was there. However, spreading my pitching dollars around aligns well with the idea I mentioned once or twice above, that I didn’t want to invest a ton in any single player or pair of players because we’re selecting teams in late March that won’t be changed all season. That structure makes teams particularly vulnerable to injuries. A flatter, less hierarchical pitching staff mitigates that risk somewhat. And yes, I understand that putting all this in print means that a minimum of eight of my pitchers will be on the 60-day DL by July 1. Really looking forward to that.

I went cheap in the bullpen, buying Roberto Osuna and Jeremy Jeffress. These two were cheap because they didn’t have sole possession of the closer job on their teams when Mike Gianella published his bids on March 25. Osuna was named the closer in Toronto a few days after Mike’s article went live. Jeffress fell out of a closing timeshare with Will Smith and into a shot at getting all of the saves in Milwaukee when Smith fell down while trying to take off his shoes, tearing a ligament in his right knee. I fell into two full-time closers at bargain prices, even if they’re not top tier options. I’ll take it.

Prediction

Since my most expensive player was George Springer at $27, I’m a bit worried that I won’t have enough high-end production. My balanced roster mitigates a lot of risk, though, so my team should be less vulnerable to injuries or capricious lineup decisions than most. To win, my cheap closers will have to hold on to their jobs and stay healthy while at least one of Kluber, Syndergaard, or Archer (or my man Matt Moore!) will have to be on the short list for the Cy Young Award. I’ll also need my egalitarian offense to keep pace with lineups that contain premium players like Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, and/or Josh Donaldson.

In short, I like this roster and I like my chances. Let’s start playing some games that count already.