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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 March 29, 2007:

MLB Market Movers
Rk Player Ticker Team Price Mar. 29 Change
1. B.J. Upton UPTON Devil Rays $168.80
$146.19 15.47%

With Tampa’s second base job firmly in hand, Upton now has the chance to show why prospect mavens thought so highly of him just a few short years ago. It’s an open question as to whether his defense will improve in the infield (Clay Davenport has him at a cumulative 61 runs below average with the glove since 2003), but that will hardly decide his fate. The elder Upton is here to hit and to run (but hopefully not “hit-and-run”), and it’s the 22-year-old’s offensive ability that will decide if he’s here to stay. Personally, I’m as bullish as can be.

2. Hanley Ramirez HRAMI Marlins $306.32
$268.18 14.22%

Our market was already loving Ramirez before he started the year by going four-for-four with a pair of stolen bases. Since then, he’s just been riding the wave, solidifying his reputation as one of the best young shortstops in the NL. There are a few reasons to be bearish on the former Red Sox farmhand, however. For one, his 35 extra-base hits last season were the highest of his career at any level. It’s true that he’s grown, and physical maturity can mean hitting for more power, but it seems just as likely that he was a little over his head. Expect a regression in the power categories, especially home runs, where he took advantage of an inordinate number of inexperienced hurlers (half his dingers came off pitchers with fewer than 40 IP under their belts). For another, he was the beneficiary of a .344 BABIP, one of the higher figures in the league. In short, he’s a very good ballplayer at this point, but like Jose Reyes, there’s more risk in his profile than his most ardent supporters seem to understand.

3. Barry Zito ZITO Giants $171.55
$199.71 14.10%

Yes, there are reasons to like Zito’s chances in the near future–but when the rubber hits the road, he’s still as overrated as Sanjaya Malakar. Pitchers with declining K rates and rising walk rates will always have problems keeping runs off the board–unless, of course, they can rely on a sprightly defense to pick them up. The Giants, of course, sport a roster where the average age is closer to Elvis Presley than Elvis Andrus, so we wish the former USC Trojan the best of luck. He’s going to need it.

4. Dan Wheeler DWHEE Astros $84.90
$74.83 13.46%
Like the salmon returning to Capistrano ($1, Lloyd Christmas), traders are getting antsy over Brad Lidge‘s ability to hold down the closer role in Houston. If things continue to break badly for Lidge, Wheeler will likely step in as his ninth-inning replacement, driving up his value faster than an out-of-control Dodge Charger, while people holding Lidge might ask “where’d Yugo?” For an answer to that, just read on…
5. Felix Hernandez FHERN Mariners $257.43
$227.37 13.22%

The hype machine has been buzzing on Hernandez for years now, but he showed the world why on Opening Day with a win against the A’s. Of course, the traditional box score line looks impressive–8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K–but it only gets better when you put it under a microscope. The King attacked the Oakland lineup like a junkyard dog, throwing 69% of his pitches for strikes and failing to allow a single ball out of the infield. That’s correct: of the 14 outs not recorded at home plate on Monday, not one of them reached the outfield grass. Now, I don’t need to tell you that this combination is more lethal than a pocket full of razor blades–that’s obvious. What some people might need reminding of, however, is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. At 20 years of age, Hernandez is just a month older than Homer Bailey and two years younger than Tim Lincecum. Think about that for a while.

6. Esteban Loaiza ELOAI Athletics $112.04
$125.94 11.04%
Late news that Loaiza would miss his season debut with a bulging disk in his neck caused traders to unload their shares and move on. According to Assistant GM David Forst, the A’s will wait till next Tuesday to see how he feels before setting a return date. Traders with the best inside information–not unlike the kind I witnessed with Loaiza long ago–will know if this is a good short-selling opporunity. The rest of us will have to wait for the scoop from Will Carroll.
7. Brian McCann BMCCA Braves $231.16
$209.50 10.34%

Will “McCann or Mauer” be the current generation’s “Berra or Campanella”? It might be premature to say so, but the Atlanta catcher certainly isn’t doing anything to make me reconsider. The former second-round pick has wasted no time picking up where he left off in 2006, going six for his first 12 with two bombs. Traders are wasting even less time getting on the McCann bandwagon, sending his already blue chip stock up another 10% since last Thursday. There’s some lingering concern over whether the power is here to stay, but the more he keeps hitting, the brighter his future looks to traders and scouts alike.

8. Boof Bonser BOOF Twins $148.65
$137.54 8.08%

He isn’t a household name yet–according to Yahoo!, he’s held in only 11% of fantasy leagues–but our market indicates that’s going to change very soon. The No. 2 in the Twins rotation, Bonser is their only reliable arm aside from Johan Santana, and has more upside than half the “Sleepers” you’ve heard about. Yes, the moniker’s a little silly–like the name of a magazine for magicians or something–but he’s done nothing but get outs since coming to the Twins system in 2003, and posted an above-average K rate in 100 stretch-drive innings last season. He’s not going to go all Liriano on the league, to be sure, but he could have nearly as much of an impact by staying in the rotation all year and providing Torii Hunter some rest between days when Sidney Ponson and Carlos Silva take the hill. If Bonser does that, he’ll not only keep the Twins in the hunt, but he’ll officially make that A.J. Pierzynski deal the worst of the decade for the Giants.

9. Jorge Cantu JCANT Durham Bulls $126.58
$137.56 7.98%
Despite a promising start as a 22-year-old (803 OPS in 50 games), Cantu gradually played himself out a job in 2006, finishing the year with a sub-.300 OBP and half as many home runs as he’d hit in 2005. With top mover B.J. Upton now at second, he’s simply out of luck and demanding a trade. If he lands a major league job before the end of the year, he’ll be a good buy candidate. But until then, he can spend his time in North Carolina with Annie Savoy.
10. Brad Lidge LIDGE Twins $150.18
$164.58 8.75%
It would be inaccurate to say that Lidge “has never been the same” since Albert Pujols took him into the stratosphere during Game Six of the 2005 NLCS. After all, causality is a tricky subject, and even the best relievers can decline out of nowhere. That said, there’s no denying that Lidge is more homer-prone now than he was before, and as a result, he’s no longer the down-ballot Cy Young candidate he was at his peak. He’s fighting to keep his job with a number of qualified replacements nipping at his heels.

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Jeff Ma


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