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Fantasy Fix: Running Men

This year was supposed to be the Year of the Speedster, otherwise known as Reds rookie outfielder Billy Hamilton, whose minor league stolen base numbers were so alarming that some fantasy experts had him ranked inside the overall top 50 players.

So, how is Hamilton faring?

Well, he's not looking quite like Ricky Henderson or Lou Brock or even Vince Coleman. He doesn't even lead the majors in SBs, an honor that goes to one of this season's surprise fantasy performers - Dodgers middle infielder Dee Gordon, who has swiped 30 bases.

However, Hamilton's 31 SBs are good for second place, and his .276 average through the season's first 70 games is adequate enough to keep him in fantasy lineups. And because SBs carry some extra weight in fantasy rankings, he is pretty much making good on those overall top 50 predictions.

Still, a stolen base specialist like Hamilton or Gordon can be a tough call on draft day or even as a mid-season pickup. With one of these guys, you can win the SB category more often than not regardless of who else you have. However, you will also need a bench stacked with power and average - the top eight base stealers in MLB collectively have 21 HRs, or one fewer than White Sox slugger Jose Abreu.

If you're looking for multicategory value among the top SB men, the best of them may be neither Hamilton nor Gordon, but Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who is third in MLB with 26 SBs, but also carries a red-hot .336 BA and an .821 OPS (the latter courtesy of 23 doubles). For that reason, I think I'd rather have Altuve than Hamilton or Gordon.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report features hot pickups for the week, including SB specialist James Jones of the Mariners.

* Sporting News has injury updates on some fantasy stars.

* KFFL.com sizes up the White Sox closer situation after another blown save. But, really, if you're banking on White Sox closer for fantasy value, you might as well give up now.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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