keyboard_arrow_uptop

In the “My Model Portfolio” series, the fantasy staff will create their own team within a $260 auction budget using Mike Gianella’s latest mixed league Bid Limits for 2017. The scoring is 5×5 standard roto. The roster being constructed includes: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, 5 OF, 2 UTIL, and 9 P.

The Process

I tried to go after value where I could, finding players at prices I thought had a reasonable chance to be undervalued at, or at the very least come close to returning the value on their price tags. I did have some idea of a few players I wanted to target before I looked at the prices, because I thought I would be higher on those players than everyone else was (or in this case, Mike’s prices). The thought process was generally to get the most bang for the buck as possible.

The Offense

Position

Player

Team

Bid

C

Gary Sanchez

Yankees

$24

1B

Greg Bird

Yankees

$3

2B

Daniel Murphy

Nationals

$22

3B

Alex Bregman

Astros

$16

SS

Javier Baez

Cubs

$6

CI

Yulieski Gurriel

Astros

$7

MI

Jose Reyes

Mets

$5

OF

Giancarlo Stanton

Marlins

$24

OF

Yoenis Cespedes

Mets

$25

OF

Dexter Fowler

Cardinals

$8

OF

David Peralta

Diamondbacks

$2

OF

Curtis Granderson

Mets

$6

Util

Shin Soo Choo

Rangers

$3

Util

Carlos Beltran

Astros

$4

Total

$155 (60%)

Some thoughts on the hitters I drafted:

Giancarlo Stanton ($24)’s price has tanked after the worst season of his career by league adjusted metrics. Last year, Stanton’s preseason bid limit was $36, and in 2015, it was $41. In 2017, Stanton’s price is down to $24, 12th among outfielders. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Stanton’ potential, but this is a guy who has 50 HR upside if he can finally fully put everything together. Both his raw and game power are the most elite in the sport. When you look at the list of hardest hit home runs in the Statcast era, it’s Stanton and then everyone else. Stanton has hit 10 home runs 115+ mph, eight more than second place, and just two less than the rest of baseball. I’m gambling on Stanton returning to something not too far from his 2015 form as he distances himself from that broken hamate bone in his hand. Stanton was having a historic year power wise in 2015 with a .341 ISO and 27 HR in 74 games before breaking his hand on a violent swing, and he just never rebounded last year. It’s possible that his bat control wasn’t quite the same after having his hand operated on, or maybe his timing wasn’t the same after missing the last 3 months of 2015. Stanton is still only 27 years old, and with more distance from the surgery, maybe his skills bounce back. 2015 wasn’t that long ago. The downside is that he is an injury risk and has only averaged 115 games per season since 2012.

I think the 2015 and 2016 version of Yoenis Cespedes ($24) is for real, the one who has hit 35% above league average with 30+ HR per year. I am not expecting the slightly above league average 2014-2015 version of Cespedes in 2017. Cespedes has made plate discipline improvements with the Mets and had a .940 OPS on September 1 last year before nagging lower body injuries eventually took him down to the point where he had a difficult time walking. I am comfortable saying he has NL MVP upside, and I think the Mets lineup around him will support his run and RBI totals much more this season than last year.

Gary Sanchez ($24) is not going to keep his 2016 home run pace going, because nobody does. His 49% ground ball rate is also a little concerning for power, and he had a below average strikeout rate (24.9%) and swinging strike rate (13%) in his rookie season. That said, I think the guy has a chance to be a monster in the making, and I like rostering catchers who can get some extra at bats at DH to help boost RBI and run totals. In the last 6 seasons, no catcher has hit more than 27 home runs in a single season, and Sanchez has a good shot to do that this year. I decided to pay for catcher production here. The position is largely a dumpster fire offensively, and I don’t like staring at unproductive catchers in my fantasy lineups for aesthetic reasons. I wasn’t totally comfortable with a $24 price tag, but I went with it anyway and tried to make up some of the value with a cheap outfielder on the back end.

I am probably the high guy on Daniel Murphy ($22) on the fantasy staff, and have talked him up this winter during our positional series. He’ll probably have some batting average regression from .347, but I don’t expect it to be huge; he has a .334 AVG over his last 800 or so at bats, which is pretty close to the stabilization point. Murph also has potential to improve on his RBI and run scored totals with a full season of Trea Turner, a healthy Bryce Harper, and newly added Adam Eaton to the lineup. I suppose one small area of concern is that USA baseball decided to bench Murph, one of their best hitters, for most of the WBC tournament, taking away spring training tune up at bats to get ready for April baseball. I don’t understand that one.

I profiled Alex Bregman ($16) last week. You can read that for some detailed thoughts on why I like him so much. To summarize, Bregman looks like he is going to hit second in the Astros order, sandwiched between George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa. He is one of the best prospects in baseball and started focusing on getting the ball off the ground more often, and might have more power potential than we may have realized. He has a chance to score a lot of runs and hit for power with a high batting average in a strong Astros lineup.

David Wright currently cannot throw a baseball because the muscles in his throwing shoulder aren’t firing after neck surgery. That sounds pretty bad for a player in a league without the DH position. Combined with his chronic back condition, I can’t see him taking away too much playing time from Jose Reyes ($5) at third base this year. Reyes is expected to hit leadoff and looks like a cheap source of runs and stolen bases. Reyes hitting leadoff likely pushes teammate Curtis Granderson ($6) to clean up, which should boost his RBI totals. A $6 clean up hitter in a decent lineup was appealing to me, and Granderson will still have competent major league hitters hitting behind him with Neil Walker, Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce to help with his runs scored total.

Shin Soo Choo ($3) is an injury risk, but he’s still a productive hitter when he’s on the field and is expected to hit second in the Rangers lineup against RHP to start the season. I’m gambling on his health, but I found the price tag to be worth the risk because of his skill level (when healthy) and expected lineup slot. Choo’s walk rate held strong at 12% last year, and his on base percentage was a well above average .357. If he stays in the 2 hole all year against righties, he’ll probably score a solid amount of runs if he can stay on the field.

Greg Bird ($3) has been named the starting first baseman for the Yankees, and while he will probably lose some at bats against left handed pitchers to Chris Carter, I think he has 25 HR upside. How often Joe Girardi decides to sit him against lefties will impact his run and RBI totals. At $3, the price was worth the playing time risk to me.

David Peralta ($2) is just one year removed from a .312/.371/.522 line in 517 PA with the Diamondbacks. Injuries crushed his production last year, and I am still a believer in his talent when he’s healthy. I am happy to take a flier on him at $2 and bet on him bouncing back in 2017.

The Pitching

Position

Player

Team

Bid

P

Noah Syndergaard

Mets

$26

P

Jacob deGrom

Mets

$17

P

Michael Fulmer

Tigers

$7

P

Garrett Richards

Angels

$6

P

Michael Pineda

Yankees

$5

P

Joe Ross

Nationals

$2

P

Robert Gsellman

Mets

$6

P

Kelvin Herrera

Royals

$14

P

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers

$22

Total

$105 (40%)

I ended up spending 40% of my budget on pitchers, which will probably be on the higher side. I think my pitching has a chance to be outstanding.

I know a popular strategy with regards to closers is to not pay for saves, because closers are volatile and you can often find cheap, effective closers on waivers as the season goes on. I tend to take the opposite strategy. Because relievers and closers are often so volatile, I want to pay for excellent, reliable closers who aren’t in danger of losing their jobs. This way, barring injury, I don’t have to constantly worry about one of my closers getting demoted and having to strike first on his replacement before other league members get to him before I can. This year, I think Kenley Jansen and Kelvin Herrera are about as safe as they get at the closer position. Ned Yost is a traditional manager who will use Herrera in the 9th, and Jansen just signed an enormous contract to close games for the Dodgers. Both Herrera and Jansen have excellent peripherals to support strong ERAs. This is what I feel comfortable doing with closers, and it’s always worked well for me in my leagues.

Noah Syndergaard ($26) and Jacob deGrom ($17) give me two ace level starting pitchers to anchor my rotation. deGrom’s velocity is back up this spring after battling injury problems in 2016, and if he’s healthy all year, I think he will post a sub 3 ERA. Syndergaard’s upside doesn’t really need to be explained; he has the best pure stuff in the game, he commands his stuff well, and the only thing holding his run prevention back is getting the running game under control.

Garrett Richards ($6) looks healthy this spring, firing 99 mph fastballs in spring training games and sitting in the mid 90s. Since 2014, he has a 3.11 ERA, 3.30 FIP and 22% strikeout rate in 410 IP. If he’s healthy, I think he will be good.

My Yankee fan uncle has nicknamed Michael Pineda ($5) “Michael Piñata” for his propensity to getting whacked around pretty hard. Pineda is a poster boy for why defense independent pitching metrics are not gospel, but if he can just limit his mistake pitches just a little bit more often in 2017, he has a chance to prevent runs and strike batters out at an above average level. The fact that I have not invested in Pineda in years past probably gives me the stomach to try this season, because I haven’t been burned by him (yet).

Michael Fulmer ($7) made dramatic improvements with his change up last season, giving him a strong third pitch to get through lineups multiple times. His stuff has shed the “future reliever” tag now, and while I do have concern about him long term in dynasty leagues with his delivery, I like him in 2017.

We here at Baseball Prospectus have been the high people on Robert Gsellman ($6) ever since our excellent prospect team published their Mets top 10 list in November, and followed it up by ranking him as the #17th best prospect in baseball in the 2017 top 101. I am with our prospect team 100%, and find Gsellman to be valuable at $6. He’s too good to not get a regular rotation role.

The Prediction

A wise sage once said, “you know, you just can’t predict baseball, Suzyn.” The outcome in baseball is not always in our control. As fantasy owners, we have to try to increase the chances of success by being as prepared as we can, and do our best to make our probabilities favor success over failure. My prediction is this team has a chance, which is all I can ask for.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
jfranco77
3/28
Is it more that you love the Mets, or that you think Mike Gianella has an irrational hatred for them? :)
timfinn521
3/28
It is much more likely that I am a deranged Mets fan.