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May 4, 2007

Market Movers

The Ten Most Volatile Players - Week of May 4, 2007

by Jeff Ma

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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.

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 April 26, 2007:

MLB Market Movers
Rk Player Ticker Team Price April 26 Change
1. Ted Lilly TLILL Cubs $140.02
$118.64 18.02%
In 38 stellar innings, the erstwhile Yankees prospect has posted his highest K rate in years while suddenly ratcheting down the walks like they're going out of style. That's the good news. The bad news--is groundball and flyball rates are almost identical to last year, while his HR/FB rate is a shockingly low 4.4 percent--unsustainable for any pitcher, let alone one who has been touched for an average of 1.35 home runs per nine innings over the course of his career. Traders are riding the wave and hoping the improvement in his ability to miss bats is for real. Even if Lilly finds his gopher (so to speak), he'll still rank in the top quartile of NL starters.
2. Tim Hudson THUDS.A Braves $182.65
$158.22 15.44%
As reported by multiple sources, Hudson picked up a few miles per hour in the offseason by raising his arm slot, and he also reintroduced a splitter into his arsenal. The cumulative result has been strong, but I'm still harboring a few concerns. After all, he's stranding 87 percent of baserunners, and while his strikeouts are up, they're inflated by his start against Florida where he whiffed a dozen Fish in one night. The plus side is that he's keeping runners off the basepaths and going deep into games, just like he used to in Oakland. As with Lilly, there's reason to believe he'll beat his PECOTA projection, but it's unlikely he'll do it by posting a 1.40 ERA all year.
3. B.J. Upton UPTON Devil Rays $182.44
$161.32 13.71%
After finishing an April that was straight out of the Albert Pujols Collection™, Upton's playing time should be secure for the near future. What you shouldn't count on, however, is the rate at which he's reaching base. Batting a robust .370 through Wednesday, Upton is sporting one of the highest hitter BABIP figures in the league at .532--blinding speed or not, there isn't a hitter on the planet who can reach base more than half the time he puts the ball in play over the long haul (especially when that hitter strikes out more than 30 percent of the time to boot). As Jeff Erickson noted in his chat, traders should be bullish about Upton's power/speed combination--the latter half of which isn't being fully exploited yet, despite his five stolen bases in six tries.
4. Jamie Shields JSHIE Devil Rays $117.80
$104.96 12.23%
Shields is still under the radar for most fans, but his numbers over the last 150 major league innings deserve more notice. Though he's benefited from some decent bounces so far (he sports a tidy .224 BABIP), Shields' performance is more real than, say, Jason Marquis', as his striking ability to miss bats (9.25 K/9) and limit free passes (1.75 BB/9) dates back to a stellar minor-league track record.
5. Barry Bonds BARRY Giants $245.61
$220.02 11.63%
There's nothing to say about Bonds' hot start that wasn't written for four consecutive seasons at the beginning of the decade, when the difference between him and the second-best player in the game was as wide as the Grand Canyon and twice as deep. He's the only player where a .343/.511/.791 line seems totally reasonable.
6. Matt Capps MCAPP Pirates $76.43
$68.60 11.41%
Capps' appreciation has as much to do with the struggles of Salomon Torres as with his own fine pitching. Sure, Capps has been stellar, allowing only one run and 11 baserunners in 14.1 innings, but he's not exactly the prototypical closer, with only eight Ks and a career rate of six K/9. Alas, the nature of fantasy baseball makes saves as valuable as a couple of black chips at the Bellagio, meaning Torres' rough stretch puts Capp in prime position to see a huge leap in value.
7. New York Yankees YANKEES Duh. $118.55
$132.99 10.86%
I'm sure none of you has heard much about the troubles the Boys in Pinstripes are having, but apparently there are some issues with their pitching staff. I'll see if any of the sports news outlets are reporting on this and get back to you next week.
8. Matt Belisle MBELI Reds $112.55
$103.14 9.12%
After toiling in the relative anonymity of the Reds bullpen for several years, Belisle found himself with an opportunity in the rotation this season. The way he's started, the market is convinced he'll stick. Despite pitching in the Great American Bandbox, he's yet to allow a homer in 31.1 innings and has walked only five batters. Whether these numbers are sustainable is debatable, but the fast start should ensure him 20-plus starts, making him a smart buy.
9. John Patterson JPATT Nationals $152.46
$167.61 9.04%
Could things possibly have started worse for Patterson? Well, maybe. He has basically doubled his walk rate while halving his strikeout rate. Since there's no injury involved (none that has been mentioned, yet), one would imagine the numbers will fall in line with his career norms, but the problem the market has realized is that there simply may not be enough time. Patterson's 2005--his best season by far--was only good for $158.78 by our scoring system, making it almost impossible for him to reach his $169 price tag after this kind of start. The early expectations were simply too great, and the market is starting to correct.
10. Ryan Langerhans RLANG A's Nationals $84.00
$92.07 8.77%
Hopefully Langerhans has a good real estate agent. The outfielder is headed to his third team in a week after briefly passing through Oakland on his way to Washington from Atlanta. He managed to avoid the fury of the market for the first few weeks of the season, primarily because he played so little. Since his name hit the news with the recent trades, however, he's caught traders' attention, and they have responded appropriately by selling him, and fast.

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