The Powerball lottery -- and what one could buy with the grand prize -- was a popular topic of discussion this week.You probably didn't win, but if you did, you could have used the money to purchase a roster capable of challenging for the World Series. Really.In any other year,
The Powerball lottery -- and what one could buy with the grand prize -- was a popular topic of discussion this week.
You probably didn't win, but if you did, you could have used the money to purchase a roster capable of challenging for the World Series. Really.
In any other year, the postseason contenders would be cemented by Jan. 15. But this season's wait-and-see approach to free agency has placed an inevitable rush of big-name signings on the horizon. Armed with an open checkbook, you could have used a unique set of circumstances to start your own expansion team this weekend and been bathing in champagne in less than 10 months.
Don't believe it? Check out the team below, comprised entirely of remaining free agents. This fictional team's collective Wins Above Replacement figure, according to FanGraphs, was 27.2 last season. (And this roster would have looked even stronger before Chris Davis and Ian Kennedy reportedly agreed to terms with the Orioles and Royals, respectively, on Saturday morning.)
For comparison's sake, the 2015 Opening Day roster of the 2015 World Series-winning Royals compiled a 30.6 WAR among the specific positions below, so our squad is in the same ballpark if a couple of breaks go our way.
Here's what the batting order and rotation would look like.
Center fielder, Dexter Fowler (3.2 WAR, per FanGraphs): Among the top offensive players at his position last season, Fowler -- who owns a lofty lifetime .363 on-base percentage -- totaled 17 homers, 102 runs and 20 steals with the Cubs in '15. With a diverse skill set, the native Georgian is the perfect table-setter for the powerful core of this fictional batting order.
Second baseman, Howie Kendrick (2.1): A lifetime .293 hitter with his share of speed, Kendrick can collect base knocks and set the table for the star-studded heart of this lineup.
Right fielder, Justin Upton (3.6): Currently in the prime of his career, Upton has averaged 25 homers, 80 RBIs and 16 steals across the past seven seasons. Although he worked exclusively in left field during the past two campaigns, he has accrued the majority of his Major League innings as a right fielder.
First baseman, Justin Morneau (0.5): Again, this team would have looked a lot better with Davis and his 5.6 WAR here, but this left-handed hitter can break up the righties in the middle of the order and is coming off two straight seaons in which he hit above .300.
Left fielder, Yoenis Cespedes (6.7): Besides having an arm that is the envy of virtually every other big league outfielder, Cespedes ranked among the top-15 players last season in both homers (35) and RBIs (105). If the recent rumors are true, he might not be available beyond this weekend, so our fictional team may need to act fast.
• O's front-runners for Cespedes; Mets a factor
Shortstop, Ian Desmond (1.7): Although he was inconsistent in '15, Desmond is among the most dynamic offensive assets at his position. The native Floridian is the only shortstop to average at least 20 homers and 20 swipes across the past four seasons.
Designated hitter, Marlon Byrd (1.0): Having averaged 24 homers and 82 RBIs across the past three seasons, Byrd should fit in nicely as this club's DH and No. 7 hitter.
Third baseman, David Freese (2.2): An afterthought in this star-studded lineup, Freese can contribute a respectable batting average and a double-digit home run total. Plus, any team with its eyes on the championship can benefit from having a player like Freese, who knows a bit about coming up big in the postseason.
Catcher, Carlos Corporan (-0.2): The 32-year-old is not an overwhelming offensive asset, but he is a solid defensive catcher. And with 20 career homers across 701 at-bats, he can provide some pop from the ninth spot in this batting order.
Starter, Yovani Gallardo (2.5): If you do not think that Gallardo can be the ace of a postseason-bound team, look no further than the 2015 Rangers for evidence to the contrary. With a lifetime 3.66 ERA and a string of seven consecutive 30-start seasons, he is definitely a rotation asset.
Starter, Mat Latos (1.5): Latos struggled in '15, but with a career 3.51 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, the 28-year-old is a reasonable bounceback candidate.
Starter, Aaron Harang (0.8): If you're thinking long term, you'd prefer Kennedy here. However, Harang has had strong starts to each of past two seasons and can eat some innings for the team in contention until a midseason trade could occur.
Starter, Doug Fister (0.2): Another starter who is not coming off his best year, Fister owns an impressive lifetime 3.42 ERA. He slots at the back end of this fictional rotation, but he could easily emerge as the most effective starter in the bunch.
Starter, Tim Lincecum (0.3): Lincecum could give this quintet a serviceable fifth starter if he can bounce back from an injury-affected '15 season. Those who have lost confidence in the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner could instead fill the final rotation spot with a veteran innings-eater such as Kyle Lohse.
Reliever, Tyler Clippard (0.2): Since converting to the bullpen at the outset of '09, Clippard has held opposing hitters to a .184 batting average while registering a 2.68 ERA. As he showed during his partial season with the A's in '15, he can succeed in the ninth inning.
Reliever, Rafael Soriano (-0.2): After failing to find a free-agent deal that met his expectations, Soriano pitched just 5 2/3 innings last season. But the right-hander was one of baseball's most reliable late-inning relievers from 2009-14, recording a 2.82 ERA and 191 saves.
Reliever, Joe Blanton (1.1): Formerly a workhorse starter, Blanton posted a 2.04 ERA across 57 1/3 innings when working as a reliever last season. With the ability to toss multiple frames, the right-hander will be a valuable asset behind a rotation that likely lacks a 200-inning member.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.