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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. We’re 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, some of Protrade’s most notable price movers since August 8, 2007:

MLB Market Movers
Rk Player Ticker Team Price Aug. 8 Change
1. Rick Ankiel RANKI Cardinals $53.30
$45.00 12.48%

Were you expecting someone else at the top of this list? Following his well-publicized return to St. Louis, Ankiel’s stock is hotter than downtown Boston right now. So many words have been spilled on his behalf already that I’m afraid there’s not much else to say. This is one of the few times when a media-anointed “Best Story of the Year” actually lives up to the hype.

2. Wily Mo Pena WILYMO Red Sox $60.58
$68.67 11.78%

On the verge of being ousted from Boston in favor of Bobby Kielty (and, to a lesser extent, Clay Buchholz) traders are short-selling Wily Mo, who had already disappointed with a .218/.291/.385 line in 156 at-bats this year. We’ve yet to see what’s next for the former Red, but if putting on displays in batting practice is a criterion at all, then Pena should have no problem finding a new home.

3. Shaun Marcum SMARC Blue Jays $132.55
$117.06 13.23%

Marcum has taken his game to another level of late, striking out 26 batters in his last 32 2/3 innings and allowing only three free passes in the process. This has translated into five consecutive wins for the former Southwest Missouri State right-hander, who showed flashes of effectiveness in the first half, but failed to sustain dominance from week-to-week. This 25-year-old has more than just solidified his spot in the rotation-he’s become one of the most unheralded starters in the league.

4. Phil Hughes HUGHES Yankees $62.35
$55.00 13.36%

Among the site’s newest IPOs, Hughes has gained investors despite a limited schedule ahead of him-we’re looking at six weeks before most of the league takes a vacation-and some minor misgivings about his performance because the only time he’s looked truly dominant was during his ill-fated start back in May, which preceded his trip to the DL.

5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia SALTY Rangers $60.58
$68.67 11.78%

Or maybe John Schuerholtz is just an all-knowing, all-seeing deity who deserves the benefit of the doubt every time he deals a prospect. Batting .163/.212/.224 in the 13 games since joining the Rangers, Salty has failed to make much of an impact on a defeated Rangers organization, while Mark Teixeira continues to torch NL East pitching with a 978 OPS. I don’t doubt this 22-year-old Palm Beach native will hit eventually-he’s too young and too talented not to-but it would definitely benefit him if those at-bats came after half-innings wearing protective gear rather than just a funny-shaped glove.

6. Travis Hafner PRONK Indians $238.21
$265.33 10.22%

Is it time to officially start worrying? Hafner has seen a precipitous drop-off in his power this season, watching his Isolated Slugging plummet to the .180-range. Posting an OPS that’s 20 percent better than league average, he’s still been a good-enough hitter who doesn’t kill too many rallies, but it’s a disconcerting development for the Indians, who were relying on Pronk to continue his reign as one of the league’s most dangerous hitters for a fourth season in a row. Protrade investors are finally beginning to give up hope for 2007, as he’s down 10 percent in the last week, a trend that won’t change until he starts raking once again.

7. Justin Upton JUSTUP Diamondbacks $51.03
$46.92 8.75%

Behold the greatest prospect in the all the land. Called up two Fridays ago to siphon at-bats away from that offensive black hole some people like to call Carlos Quentin, Upton the Younger has fared just fine in his debut, batting .273/.333/.545. Although he has yet to record a stolen base, his plus speed should produce plenty when or if the Diamondbacks loosen his reins when he’s on the base paths. This is a special, special player who has managed to completely reverse the buzz surrounding his game in just five short months. Yowza.

8. Huston Street HSTRE Athletics $69.22
$64.60 8.14%

Though the A’s season looks effectively over early, the organization stumbled upon some good news this week, as Huston Street recorded his first save since returning from the DL, striking out the side against the White Sox. He resume his role as closer, taking the spot from Alan Embree, who was stellar in his time finishing games, but whose stock has understandably taken a hit since Street’s recall.

9. Barry Zito ZITO Giants $145.83
$158.78 8.16%

Zito’s season has been just one disappointing story after another. The owner of a 5.13 ERA on the year and a 5.82 mark since May 12, he’s continued the three-year trend of missing fewer bats despite a move to the weaker league. Should the Giants have seen this coming? Like a friggin’ iceberg.

10. Ryan Spilborghs RSPIL Rockies $95.22
$88.34 7.78%

While Shelley Duncan and even Ankiel are receiving most of the hot-start attention, it’s arguably Spilborghs who’s been the most productive of all recent fill-ins, batting .356/.427/.658 since the All-Star break when he began getting regular playing-time. For those who think that he is simply a product of that thin Coors Field air, he’s batting .315 on the road with six long balls. Spilborghs kills left-handed pitching and should be a perfect platoon with Brad Hawpe, but he’ll see more time in center as long as Willy Taveras on the DL. The Rockies need to find a way to keep getting Spilborghs in the lineup, especially if they want to remain in that ill-defined place known as “technically in contention.”

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Jeff Ma is a co-founder of Protrade.