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March 23, 2007

Protrade Market Movers

The Ten Most Volatile Players--Week of March 23, 2007

by Jeff Ma

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Note: Protrade.com co-founder Jeff Ma will be chatting at Baseball Prospectus on Tuesday, March 27 at 10 a.m. PT.

Welcome to Market Movers, Protrade's series of reports covering how sports fans from around the world are valuing Major League Baseball stocks in the world's only 24/7 virtual Sports Stock Market.

For those unfamiliar with Protrade, we are a next-generation fantasy sports experience centered around a community of passionate fans who trade players and teams like stocks. Our virtual sports stock market helps capture the wisdom of these sports fans by enabling them to display their reactions and generate a market response to every event in sports news; every at-bat, every rumor, and every injury report can be factored into the value of an athlete or team. Equalized across all sports so that in Protrade Dollars (PT$) the best baseball players are worth roughly the same as the best football and basketball players, our prices are set by market analysts before the beginning of every season with a "season IPO," and then move based on a combination of on-field performance and buy/sell pressure.

For more information on how our market works, check out Protrade's FAQ. You can register for FREE by clicking here.

And now, Protrade's biggest price movers since March 15, 2007:

MLB Market Movers
Rk Player Ticker Team Price Mar. 15 Change
1. Adam Loewen ALOEW Orioles $108.59
$92.21 17.77%
Yes, he was lit up like a pinball machine at Binion's last season, but Loewen has nothing left to prove at the minor-league level, so he gets the fifth slot in the O's rotation. Reacting to his impressive spring (13 IP, 9 H, 2 R), traders are betting that he'll best that 5.37 ERA he put up last year by at least a run.
2. Chien-Ming Wang CWANG Yankees $152.45
$131.87 15.61%
It's no secret that Wang's win total and ERA were far out of line from his peripheral numbers in 2006. That he finished the year with 19 victories despite fanning just 8.4% of the total batters he faced is mind-boggling--a bit like if Thom Yorke decided to play only jazz flute on Radiohead's next record, resulting in 10 million sales. However, there's a nuanced argument to be made in Wang's favor, and that's what our market is picking up on here: Even with a regression, the Taiwanese right-hander is still likely to post a better-than-average win total, and he keeps the ball on the ground like few pitchers not named Brandon Webb can. At $150, our market thinks he'll be an above-average starter: an optimistic forecast, but not completely out of the realm of possibility. After all, that's what he was in 2006.
3. Nick Johnson NJOHN Nationals $191.59
$223.03 14.10%
Johnson's stock falling faster than Alberto Gonzales', thanks to news that he might not take the field at all this season. Hypothetical question: If Nick the Stick and Elijah Price went head-to-head in bare-knuckle boxing match, who would be more likely to get injured while stepping into the ring?
4. Dustin Pedroia DPEDR Red Sox $113.44
$99.83 13.63%
The second best outcome of Pedroia starting the year with the Sox is that fans will finally get to see his talents tested once and for all. Is he a slow-footed Jackie Rexrode? A spiritual descendant of Bobby Grich? With playing time his to lose, we'll finally see which fate he fulfills. At the moment, traders are siding with Camp Silver. But only time will tell if this perspective holds; history is, after all, written by the winners. Just ask Phil Plantier.
5. Kevin Gregg KGREG Marlins $62.64
$55.41 13.04%
One of the finalists for Florida's closer job, Gregg has been effective this spring, and traders seem to like his chances over Ricky Nolasco's and Taylor Tankersley's. Of course, it's doubtful that Gregg's share price was hurt by the fact that Nate Silver publicly declared him to be a good investment at the beginning of the Protrade Spring Training Challenge, so he's got that going for him too.
6. Jeremy Bonderman JBOND Tigers $200.76
$180.51 11.22%
Bonderman's peripherals lead his ERA last year, to the tune of about a full run according to our context-neutral numbers. As a result, traders are bullish on his chances in 2007, lifting his price more than 11% over the last week. Still just 24(!), this former A's farmhand (perhaps you've heard that story...) has gradually progressed into one of the best pitchers in the game: a durable starter who keeps the ball in the park and dispenses with right-handed hitters with the cold efficiency of a surgeon.
7. Jonathan Papelbon JPAPE Red Sox $196.62
$178.03 10.44%
The former closer is now the future closer in Boston, in light of Mike Timlin hitting the DL and Joel Pineiro ... being Joel Pineiro. Given the way fantasy leagues weight closer values versus starter values, this is an obvious short-selling opportunity for traders. Even if Papelbon repeats his outstanding 2006, that will be worth roughly $170 on our market.
8. Felix Hernandez FHERN Mariners $223.32
$204.41 9.25%
"It's good to be the King." Perhaps the greatest example of one of Joe Sheehan's "post-hype sleepers" (if you can really call someone with Felix's profile a "sleeper"), this Seattle right-hander is reportedly leaner, meaner and primed for more innings than ever. It's yet to be seen whether this is a good long-term decision for Hernandez, but as far as the short-term goes, this couldn't be better for investors.
9. Nick Markakis NMARK Orioles $171.60
$157.40 9.02%
Despite starting 2006 slower than David Ortiz runs through a pool full of vaseline, Markakis pulled it together after the All-Star break in a big way, notching nearly as many extra-base hits (31) as strikeouts (34). Traders love his well-rounded skill-set, and at 23, there's still plenty of room for growth past that $171 share price.
10. Joe Mauer JMAUE Twins $237.12
$259.86 8.75%
There's no denying Mauer's talent. He's an elite hitter who can rake at any position, so who cares if he takes the B.J. Surhoff career path and moves to the infield by the end of the decade? Thing is, for all his pluses, he's bound to be a little overrated in Fantasyland, as he's unlikely to hit for Piazza-level power or run for Biggio-style stolen bases--which explains why savvy traders are shorting him for the moment. He is what he is: The best catcher in the game, and a legit MVP threat from here on out.

The newest MLB-themed Challenge begins April 1. It's free, it's fun, and it's an easy way to test your knowledge against the smartest sports fan community in the world, including BP authors.

Jeff Ma is a co-founder of Protrade.
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