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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
We are just days away from Opening Day! Can you feel the excitement? You know the drill by now with the Model Portfolio series, so I’ll touch on some quick hits with each selection below. For a complete breakdown in exponentially greater detail, please check out the latest episode of the Flags Fly Forever podcast.

The central pillar of my roster construction approach revolves around investing in several high-priced outfielders and spreading the risk around evenly to avoid any glaring holes offensively. I feel much more confident in my ability to find core contributors from the lower tier infielders than in the outfield, which factored heavily into where I sunk the majority of my funds. On the pitching side, I decided to eschew saves in favor of a rotation that lacks a clear frontline ace, but spreads the risk around and features incredible depth.

The Offense

I don’t know whether I should be proud or terrified that I legitimately nailed a 70/30 split, almost to the exact dollar, on a blind first attempt at building this roster.

Position

Player

$

C

Blake Swihart

$9

1B

Albert Pujols

$15

2B

Addison Russell

$13

SS

Francisco Lindor

$17

3B

Kyle Seager

$19

CI

Danny Valencia

$2

MI

Logan Forsythe

$5

OF

Mookie Betts

$33

OF

J.D. Martinez

$26

OF

Billy Hamilton

$17

OF

Corey Dickerson

$14

OF

Ben Zobrist

$6

UTIL

Alex Rodriguez

$5

UTIL

Javier Baez

$1

Total

$182

Quick Hits
At his apex, which could still potentially be years away, Blake Swihart has the upside to become the top catcher in fantasy baseball (not named Buster Posey or Kyle Schwarber). He showed glimpses of his lofty offensive ceiling in the second half of last season, hitting .303/.353/.452 over 168 post-All-Star break plate appearances. He’s one of only a handful of catchers with legitimate fantasy upside and at the very least he won’t be a drag on my rosters batting average.

The prevailing narrative swirling around Albert Pujols this offseason is centered around his “steady decline.” I firmly believe that case to be greatly exaggerated. It’s not quite reached the heights of DeflateGate, but it’s up there in my book. It’s gotten to the point that Pujols, who has reached the 30-home-run plateau in 13 of his 15 career seasons, is available at a substantial discount because of his age. Outside of the truly elite (expensive) options in a non-OBP format, Pujols isn’t a terrible investment.

Addison Russell didn’t blossom into an instant superstar upon his arrival last summer, but let’s not overlook the fact that he and Carlos Correa are the only shortstops (age 21 or younger) to hit 13 or more home runs in their rookie campaign over the last decade. I’m not forecasting him to join the elite tier of fantasy middle infielder, but expecting some growth in his sophomore campaign isn’t unreasonable.

Francisco Lindor fell one home run shy of reaching that status of Correa and Russell a year ago, and while he’s being touted as an obvious regression candidate (which is completely fair given his career minor-league numbers) in the power department, a shortstop that can hit double-digit home runs, eclipse 20 stolen bases and hit at least .280 is an extremely valuable commodity. From where I stand, he’s a bargain at $17.

If you’ve read BP or listened to Flags Fly Forever this offseason, my personal affinity for both Kyle Seager (worth paying the full freight) and Danny Valencia (a clear breakout candidate) has been well documented. Love this combination at the hot corner.

Among the lower-tier options on the infield, Logan Forsythe is a name that no fantasy owner is excited to draft, but he’s hitting leadoff in Tampa Bay and I don’t expect him to give back a ton of the power (17 home runs) he displayed a season ago.

Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez were the obvious choices to anchor my offense. Given how confident I felt investing in some of the cheaper options on the infield juxtaposed with my reluctance to assume risk on non-elite outfielders, this was the obvious direction for me to go right out of the gate. As someone who carried the flag for both of these hitters a year ago, I have no problem investing at these prices.

You don’t want me to give the case from purely a fantasy valuation standpoint for Billy Hamilton again, do you? Please don’t make me. I’m getting tired of it at this point.

Serving as the Rays designated hitter should mitigate last seasons lingering health concerns for Corey Dickerson. Given the questionable rotations and ballparks of the AL East, there’s major bounce-back potential for the 27-year-old hitting cleanup in Tampa Bay.

The pair of veterans, Ben Zobrist and Alex Rodriguez, each represents a high-floor, low-risk investment to round out the back half of my offense. Going off the board with Javier Baez is purely an example or rolling the dice, gambling solely on talent. If the Cubs can find a way to get his bat in the lineup everyday, the upside remains off the charts. The only difference this year is that he costs next to nothing to invest in.

The Pitching

Position

Player

$

P

Carlos Carrasco

$16

P

Adam Wainwright

$16

P

Cole Hamels

$13

P

Marcus Stroman

$11

P

Dellin Betances

$9

P

Jose Quintana

$6

P

John Lackey

$4

P

Eduardo Rodriguez

$1

P

R.A. Dickey

$1

Total

$77

Quick Hits
I’ve written plenty on the electronic pages of BP about both Carlos Carrasco and Adam Wainwright this offseason, so I don’t feel like I have to delve any further on them. It’s hard for me to imagine a better pair of sub-$20 studs to anchor my pitching staff.

Cole Hamels 3.15 Deserved Run Average (DRA) was the 11th-best mark among starters last season and he struck out over a batter per inning. He’s about as safe as they come, especially at this price ($14).

The fact that Marcus Stroman looked as good as he did late last season (1.67 ERA over four regular season starts and three excellent outings in the postseason spotlight), coming back from a torn ACL in spring training, is remarkably encouraging heading into 2016. As I talked about on the podcast, he’s never going to post the strikeout rate of a true fantasy ace, but his pinpoint control and stellar groundball rate will drive sterling ratios for the next decade. At $11 there is plenty of room for profit.

From a valuation standpoint, Dellin Betances finished last season as a top 30 pitcher in standard mixed leagues in 2015. This is what value looks like. Given that I’m punting saves, Betances elite ratios are a tasty supplement to my rotation.

One of my favorite values in the entire player universe, over the past three seasons, Jose Quintana owns a 3.40 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, and has averaged 7.7 strikeouts-per-nine over 606.2 innings of work (97 starts). Despite logging nearly as many quality starts (63) as David Price and Madison Bumgarner over the past three seasons combined, Quintana has somehow never won more than nine games in a single year, which is absurd. The durability and consistency are worth paying for.

The gap between John Lackey’s ERA (2.77) and his DRA (4.13) is something I consistently struggle to process. However, the combination of a loaded Chicago team situation, which should lead to plenty of opportunities for wins, and the extremely low acquisition cost make the veteran a risk worth taking as a back-end rotation option.

He’s going to start the year on the disabled list, but Eduardo Rodriguez showed tremendous potential in his debut a year ago. By DRA, his 3.44 mark ranked 23rd (just ahead of Matt Harvey on the BP leaderboard) out of 144 pitchers to eclipse 100 innings. If his changeup and slider continue to progress, he has a chance to emerge as the second-best starter in Boston as quickly as 2016. I’ll take that chance for $1.

While he is not the sexiest $1 lottery ticket, I’ll admit that much up front, I’m much more willing to paying for the volume R.A. Dickey provides over the upside of someone like Matt Moore, who I debated taking instead. Since 2011, only three pitchers have thrown more innings than Dickey. If you’re going to eschew saves entirely, it’s important to get as many innings as possible and Dickey represents a cost-effective means to an end.

Prediction
The goal was to craft an exceptionally young roster, featuring hitters with solid track records (despite their youth). Not only is this squad teeming with that upside, but it’s augmented by several low-cost, high-floor veteran bats and my favorite lottery ticket (Valencia). On the pitching side, if Carrasco is a legitimate AL Cy Young candidate and Wainwright reverts to form, look out.