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What Does a First Place Team Look Like?

What makes a first place team? Is it the starting pitching? Power hitting? Speed? Relief pitching? A good personality? A combination of all five? Anthony Calanni breaks down three leading fantasy teams.

What makes a first place team? Miguel Cabrera make a first place team.
What makes a first place team? Miguel Cabrera make a first place team.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I am currently the proud owner of three mediocre fantasy baseball teams. Not great teams, but just average. I play in 10 team leagues with 5x5 rotisserie scoring. My best team is in 5th place with 61 points, my worst team is in 7th place with 46.50 points, and my third team is also in 5th with 52.50 points. But, I am not here to focus on my squads. I want to know what makes the teams at the top of my leagues' standings so damn good.

WE ARE FAMILY - First Place Team with 72.50 points
44 Hitting Points and 28.50 Pitching Points

C - J.P. Arencibia
C - Salvador Perez
1B - Anthony Rizzo
2B - Ian Kinsler
3B - Miguel Cabrera
SS - Ben Zobrist
CI - James Loney
MI - Martin Prado
OF - Angel Pagan
OF - Alex Gordon
OF - Shane Victorino
OF - Carlos Gomez
OF - Hunter Pence
U - Paul Konerko
P - Jon Lester
P - Ernesto Frieri
P - Craig Kimbrel
P - Tim Hudson
P - David Price
P - Ian Kennedy
P - Edward Mujica
P - Andrew Cashner
P - Casey Janssen
Bench - Norichika Aoki
Bench - Derek Holland
Bench - Kyle Lohse
Bench - Kyle Kendrick
Bench - A.J. Burnett
Bench - Kevin Slowey

This guy had the first pick in the draft and he exercised it wisely by taking Miguel Cabrera. He obviously drafted with an offensive mindset and even used my suggested strategy of grabbing an ace early and then waiting on starting pitching. His ace, David Price isn't really pitching like an ace though. He also took Craig Kimbrel in the 4th round, which I would never do, and has 5 closers on his roster. This team leads the average category and the runs category. Like any first place team, WE ARE FAMILY has some hot starters, like Carlos Gomez, and some clutch waiver wire pickups, like Kevin Slowey. This team's worst category is wins, where it places in 8th.

Ruby Tigers - First Place Team with 74 points
35 Hitting Points and 39 Pitching Points

C - Carlos Santana
C - Jesus Montero
1B - Adrian Gonzalez
2B - Daniel Murphy
3B - Miguel Cabrera
SS - Troy Tulowitzki
CI - Yonder Alonso
MI - Michael Young
OF - Alex Rios
OF - Austin Jackson
OF - Angel Pagan
OF - Lorenzo Cain
OF - Alejandro De Aza
U - Justin Morneau
P - Jake Peavy
P - CC Sabathia
P - Jordan Zimmermann
P - Junichi Tazawa
P - Anibal Sanchez
P - Tim Lincecum
P - Clay Bucholz
P - Mat Latos
P - Addison Reed
Bench - Andrew Bailey
Bench - Josh Johnson
Bench - Chris Sale
Bench - Yovanni Gallardo
Bench - Lance Lynn
Bench - Hyun-Jin Ryu

This owner had the second pick in the draft and he also took Miguel Cabrera. Out of the three first place teams mentioned, Ruby Tigers is the most balanced. This team has solid starting pitching, some speed, and some power. It leads the average and ERA categories, but struggles in saves. Carlos Santana and Jordan Zimmermann are carrying this squad early. The owner of Ruby Tigers might be Brian Cashman because this dude makes about five trades a month.

DEAN'S DIRT DOGS - First place with 74 points
42 Hitting Points and 32 Pitching Points

C - Ryan Doumit
C - Matt Wieters
1B - Mark Reynolds
2B - Ian Kinsler
3B - Miguel Cabrera
SS - Elvis Andrus
CI - Michael Cuddyer
MI - Dan Uggla
OF - Michael Morse
OF - Carlos Beltran
OF - Jose Bautista
OF - Jacoby Ellsbury
OF - Michael Bourn
U - Adam LaRoche
P - Alexi Ogando
P - Jim Henderson
P - Chris Perez
P - Greg Holland
P - Tom Wilhelmsen
P - Tim Hudson
P - Fernando Rodney
P - Kevin Gregg
P - Grant Balfour
Bench - Dee Gordon
Bench - Coco Crisp
Bench - Chris Sale
Bench - Kris Medlen
Bench - Clay Bucholz
Bench - Chris Tillman

Hey look, Miguel Cabrera is on this team too. Like WE ARE FAMILY, DEAN'S leans heavily on the offensive side of the ball. There is only one true ace on this team, Chris Sale, although Clay Bucholz is well on his way to being an ace as well. There is, however, 7 closers on this team. What is unique about DEAN'S is that does not lead the league in one single category. This team is second in 6 categories: saves, ERA, homers, runs, RBI, and stolen bases. Mark Reynolds and Michael Morse have been big power sources for DEAN'S early on.

By looking at these first place teams, we can learn some things. First of all, there are a lot of ways to win a rotisserie league. The magic number is usually somewhere around 75. To get to this total, a team can be consistent in all ten categories. A team can also dominate a couple of categories, which allows it to struggle in others. Another trend I noticed is that all three of these first place teams have Miguel Cabrera on them. This isn't a coincidence. Miggy can carry any fantasy team and he might even win the Triple Crown again this year. It sounds like a stretch, but it is actually pretty realistic. The owners of these teams were also blessed with a top three pick. It is still early May, but I'm starting to get a little nervous about at least one of my teams. 7th place sucks and so does 5th place. I need to start climbing up the standings.