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With Matt Carpenter and Mike Trout hitting in front of him, Andrew McCutchen's RBI total would skyrocket in Jason's lineup.
Lineup (2014 Salary in Millions)
|1. Matt Carpenter, 2B
|2. Mike Trout, CF
|3. Andrew McCutchen, LF
|4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
|5. Bryce Harper, RF
|6. Evan Longoria, 3B
|7. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
|8. Salvador Perez, C
|9. Andrelton Simmons, SS
Pitching Rotation (2014 Salary in Millions)
|No. 1 Starter: Clayton Kershaw, LHP
|No. 2 Starter: Yu Darvish, RHP
|No. 3 Starter: Chris Sale, LHP
|No. 4 Starter: Stephen Strasburg, RHP
|No. 5 Starter: Madison Bumgarner, LHP
|Closer: Trevor Rosenthal, RHP
*NOTE: Regarding Rosenthal (which sounds like a good band name): I put him in at $5 million as a pre-arb player, although he most likely would come in under that. But since it fits and didn't alter my roster construction, I won't argue with the arbitrator.
Total Value: $98.1 Million
Team WAR Projection: 71.8 (Oliver), 66.8 (Steamer)
Roster Construction Analysis
The name of the game in this exercise is surplus value. In short, the goal is to find studs at super-low salaries for most roster spots, which then allows you to handle a few bigger contracts reserved for the best of the best. To that end, the only two players I spent more than $10 million on were Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw, who just so happen to be the best player and best pitcher in the entire sport. Ka-ching!
For my position players and lineup, I wanted those who excel (or at least show potential for improvement) on both sides of the ball. So while my one-through-nine is a fearsome bunch of bats, there's also loads of leather all over the diamond. That's important in this pitching-dominated era.
In fact, only my second baseman, Matt Carpenter, might be considered less than a plus defender, while the rest of my infield is flush with guys with glue on their gloves, radar for their range and ammunition in their arms.
As for the outfield, I defy any hitter to place a fly ball that will actually find ground between Trout, Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper. At the plate, I honed in on hitters who make contact often (and ideally, hard) and who have on-base skills. If there's one "weakness," it might be that my lineup is a little too right-handed heavy, but I think we'll survive.
Given that position players are more trustworthy and consistent in terms of performance and health, I thought it wise to build that portion of my wish-it-were-real roster first. That's why I spent nearly $10 million more on hitters than I did on pitchers—and it was only that close because, again, I went for a whopping $18.25 million to grab Kershaw.
Speaking of the reigning NL Cy Young winner and his rotation mates, it should be pretty clear that I targeted young, strike-throwing strikeout artists. I also set up my five-man to alternate between left-handers (Kershaw, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner) and right-handers (Yu Darvish and Stephen Strasburg) throughout, which isn't necessary but still neat.
At the back end of my imaginary bullpen, I've pegged flame-throwing Trevor Rosenthal, who is a starter disguised as a closer, meaning he could throw more than one inning when needed and potentially pitch upward of 80-90 innings in a season—that's how you get value out of a dominant reliever.
All in all, the oldest player on the roster is Edwin Encarnacion, my designated hitter, at 30 years of age, and no other player is north of 28. In fact, the average age of all 15 players is just 25.1 years old. That's another aspect I valued highly in this exercise: Younger usually means not only that the players are cheaper but also that their best is yet to come. That’s what I see for this $100 million super squad.