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Uncommon Thievery: Speed on free agency

Updated: June 7, 2007, 10:05 AM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com
The best part about the stolen base category is that it's relatively easy to make up ground through a trade. The category is so scarce that just one big move can make a major impact in the standings. Everyone loves those blockbuster deals involving Jose Reyes, Juan Pierre and company; although those deals will make a big difference in the category itself, they will also cost you a pretty penny. Unless you're well behind the leader, it's probably not necessary to make one of those huge blockbusters just yet. So instead of selling your soul for one of the elite speedsters, you might want to think about increasing your swipes incrementally with a smaller trades and free-agent acquisitions. When it comes to trading, most people love the buy-low, sell-high approach. The problem is, smart fantasy owners don't fall for that shtick anymore. In the world of informed fantasy owners, a better approach to trading is to buy the undervalued, guys whose name recognition lags well behind the value they can bring to the table. Some are so undervalued that you won't even need to trade for them, simply picking them up will do. Here are a few of those players:

Undervalued Speedsters

Michael Bourn, OF, PHI: I know what you're thinking, how is a guy who has just 35 at-bats on the season undervalued? Well, he's making good use of those limited opportunities with seven steals and an improving walk-to-strikeout ratio. I mean, seven steals in 35 at-bats? Imagine what he'll do once he gets a full-time gig? Obviously he's not getting enough at-bats to warrant consideration in mixed leagues, but he's definitely someone to consider in those deeper NL-only formats if you need a boost in steals. Doubters will point to his high strikeout totals in the minors as reason to believe that his career will follow that of Alex Sanchez rather than Juan Pierre, but he seems to be improving in that area, and hey, even Sanchez had a few huge seasons on the base paths. One thing is for sure: His stolen base potential is for real. This is a kid who stole 45 bases between Double-A and Triple-A last season and has nabbed 163 bases at an 85.3 percent success rate during his four-year, minor league career. Not only is Aaron Rowand a free agent at season's end, but he's also had his fare share of injuries over the years, so those in mixed leagues will want to keep a close eye on the Philly speedster should Rowand suffer an injury or be shipped out of town.

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