April 27, 2007
The Ten Most Volatile Players - Week of April 19, 2007
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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.
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And now, Protrade's biggest price movers since April 19, 2007:
MLB Market Movers
|| April 19
Even though Johnson had a lackluster 2005 debut and missed all of last season with an injury, PECOTA was still very bullish on his prospects for 2007, predicting him for a .291/.374/.495 line with fantasy category stats (19 HR, 10 SB) to boot. His first two weeks gave PECOTA detractors a warm, fuzzy feeling, as he struggled to a .150 average, but his last nine games have been a revelation, with six multi-hit games and eight walks to raise his averages to .306/.438/.569 and put him well on his way to fulfill those expectations. Which of these is the real Johnson? Only time will tell. For now, though, traders are betting on the upside.
One of our most recent IPOs, Aardsma has forced his way on to the market by treating National League hitters with contempt. Righties in particular have gotten the short end of the stick, as they're batting just .071/.069/.179 (yes, you're reading that correctly) against the Giants' former No. 1 pick. He still has a long way to go before establishing himself as an reliably effective reliever, but given his superb performance so far, you have to like his future, even compared to fellow college-bred closers Chad Cordero or Huston Street. One piece of advice for hitters: We're not saying Aardsma is an imposing figure, but do what you can to not stare into his eyes.
Peavy's seven-inning, 16-strikeout performance on Wednesday was just a taste of what he can do when he's on--when he's amped up, there's simply no one in the world who can stop him. Of all the pitchers who've started like houses on fire this season, Peavy seems most poised to continue blazing away--in fact, he's hardly taken advantage of spacious Petco this April, as his road ERA (0.45) is a full three runs lower than it is in San Diego (3.65). Yowza.
Rollins has started 2007 with the finest month of his career, riding a power surge to a .283/.365/.630 line through last night. While the home run barage is certainly somewhat fluky (25% of Jimmy's flyballs have left the park), his physical maturation can't be understated. He still possesses the speed to steal bases at an excellent rate (88.5% over the past two years), but he's also become more patient at the plate (his 9.3% walk rate is significantly above his career high) and developed more power (.200 ISO last season, .364 this season).
Kouzamanoff's value is dropping because he can't wake up his bat--he's been "good" for a .132 AVG. Of course, he's hardly alone among rookies in that regard. Chris B. Young, after all, is batting just .197 with six extra-base hits, Chris Iannetta is hitting .167, fellow Rockie Troy Tulowitzki is batting .185, and Alex Gordon is making a case for more time in Wichita by batting just .134. To evoke a pop-culture reference from late last decade: Will the real Rookie of the Year contenders please stand up?
|| Jarrod Washburn
That Washburn's ERA sits below 3.00 is horribly misleading, but traders are going to ride the wave while they can. Of course, given that he's faced among the weakest competition of all major league pitchers this season--opposing lineups have hit a combined .230/.299/.337 so far when not facing the M's lefty--there's good chance that number will start escalating faster than my temper does with every medicore Entourage episode that hits the airwaves.
While he's hardly a household name yet, around our office, "Gatkins" is a term that's reserved for special reverence. Protrade investors have been cutting bait on the 27-year-old recently, thanks to a slower-than-expect start, but put me firmly in the "Believer" camp--his 2006 was outstanding in every respect, and according to our play-by-play data, no player drove the ball 380 feet or farther more frequently. He's a great long-term buy candidate with a world of upside.
Add Pedroia's name to the list in Kouzmanoff's comment as well. When it comes to long-term forecasting, I'd definitely fall on Nate's side of the ledger, but I'll be darned if watching Pedroia suffer weak at-bat after weak at-bat doesn't challenge my belief in his future just a little bit. Traders were ambivalent about Pedroia from the beginning, but now that we're a month into the season, some are beginning to cut him loose and move on to other investments. He's going to need to start putting more of a charge into the ball if he wants to lift his batting line across the board. Only time will tell if he's capable of doing that at the major league level.
Despite a broken hand that cut his 2006 season short, Pronk put together a massive campaign, with 42 HR, 100 runs, and 117 RBI to go with a .308/.489/.659 batting that was straight out of the Jason Giambi Collection. If not for the month of missed games, the counting stats would have been positively Pujolsian. Hafner is back at it again this year, with a crazy .500/.639/.885 line over the past week, and the market is starting to realize how astounding he is.
The Cubs have spent the last four years riding Big Z's shoulder into the ground, and we might very well be seeing the effects beginning to manifest themselves in decreased ability. The walk rate has ballooned, the K rate is down from its typically elite level, and balls are flying out at an alarming rate. While some of the numbers are likely to revert to a degree, the Cubs should think twice before they ink Zambrano to a big deal. Protrade investors are already taking that advice.
Jeff Ma is a co-founder of Protrade.