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The Best (ottoneu) Team Money Can Buy

I was feeling pretty good about the 17,377.6 points my She’s Just Not that Shin-Soo Choo squad put up to win the FanGraphs Staff League, especially after predicting that a strong finish would carry my team to the top of the table.

And then I started looking around at other leagues and saw many champs up over 18K or even 19K (no one over 20K so far as I have seen) and it got me wondering – if an owner REALLY played their cards right, what was the best team money could buy?

I set out to answer this question following a few simple rules:
1) I have to pay every player their average 2012 salary across all ottoneu points leagues, as of the end of the year
2) I have to follow ottoneu roster rules, including a salary figure that is below $400 and leaves me enough room to fill out the roster (so I can’t sign 22 guys for my full $400)
3) I max out innings pitched and games played using players positional eligibility as of the end of 2012

With that in mind, here is the best team money can buy (I think):

Pos Player GP/IP Salary Points
C Buster Posey 148 $25 1023
1B Edwin Encarnacion 151 $4 1075
2B Robinson Cano 161 $42 1120
SS Ben Zobrist 157 $23 928
MI Aaron Hill 156 $3 1008
3B Chase Headley 161 $3 1043
OF Ryan Braun 154 $45 1238
OF Mike Trout 139 $15 1164
OF Andrew McCutchen 157 $34 1133
OF Alex Gordon 161 $19 957
OF Adam Jones 162 $12 967
Util Adrian Beltre 156 $23 1053
BE Yadier Molina 26 $7 158
BE Ian Desmond 12 $4 73
BE Alex Rios 43 $3 255
    Pts/Game 6.79
SP Justin Verlander 238.1 $39 1312
SP Johnny Cueto 217 $6 1045
SP David Price 211 $28 1133
SP R.A. Dickey 233.2 $3 1202
SP Gio Gonzalez 199.1 $14 1146
SP Jake Peavy 37.2 $3 173
RP Aroldis Chapman 71.2 $7 764
RP Fernando Rodney 74.2 $2 751
RP Craig Kimbrel 62.2 $13 747
RP Grant Balfour 74.2 $4 630
RP Tom Wilhelmsen 79.1 $2 624
    Pts/IP 6.35
  Total Points 22,722    
  Total Salary $383    
  Roster Spots Used 26    

Not too shabby – closing in on 23,000 points, and with 14 roster spots left to fill with prospects or other cheap players to help get this roster ready for 2013. A few notes on decisions I made.

First, I looked at players sorted by total points, not points per game – my guess is you would pick some different players if you did this on a Pt/G (or Pt/IP) basis. Allen Craig jumps to mind as a guy who probably belongs in this roster, at his price ($3 on average), but who didn’t make the list due to games missed.

To fill out my games played, I assumed that Molina would play 26 games at C, letting Posey play 12 at 1B, which in turn let Encarnacion play one at 3B, effectively filling out those three spots. Desmond played six games at SS and six at MI with Zobrist playing one at 2B. And Rios played the remaining six games at Util and 37 games at OF.

The premier fantasy hitter this year was Miguel Cabrera, who edged Braun’s 1238 points with 1267 of his own. But at $51 and with Encarnacion, Headley, and Beltre locking down the corners/Util for less than that TOTAL…well, I just couldn’t justify the expense. Maybe there is a better lineup out there with Miggy instead of Beltre and a cheaper MI instead of Cano.

Other tough exclusions on offense included Austin Jackson (855 points for $5), Billy Butler (1016 points for $18), Josh Willingham (929 points for $7), and Martin Prado (878 points and endless positional eligibility for $9). Other big scorers who missed the cut included Matt Holliday (1010 for $32) and Josh Hamilton (1037 for $31).

The hardest pitcher to cut was probably James Shields, who accrued 1072 points for $18. The biggest earners to be cut were Felix Hernandez (1243 points for $41) and Clayton Kershaw ($1297 for $38).

Let’s have some fun in the comments – who can come up with a lineup that outscores this one? Average Prices are available here, but keep in mind that all those prices went up $2 this week. I rounded the prices to the nearest dollar (up from $X.50+, down from $X.49-) and then subtracted $2 to get 2012 prices. Sortable stats can be found here or by clicking the “Sortable Stats” tab on an ottoneu league page.

I fully expect someone to outdo my 22,722 points – have at it!