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Uncommon Thievery: Tops in August

Updated: August 23, 2007, 10:52 AM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com
Baseball is a game of streaks. As a fantasy owner, you know this already. Hitters are well known for their streaky nature. Slumps can come and go at random, and although there's a lot of frustration when you own a slumping hitter, there's nothing better than owning a hitter who claims that they're "seeing the ball well." Pitchers are the same way; at times they'll get into a mechanical groove and have a stretch of good starts. I think Brandon Webb is in one of those grooves right about now, no?

Baserunners are not immune to the "streakiness" that is so prevalent in the game of baseball. Most people will say "speed doesn't slump." Well, sure it does. You can't steal first base, right? But just because a player isn't hitting well doesn't mean he won't be stealing bases. In fact, plenty of baserunners steal more when they are in a funk at the plate. It's their way of trying to redeem themselves. Just look at Julio Lugo's first half: 22 stolen bases despite a horrendous .197 batting average.

Speed slumps for different reasons, most notably injury and fatigue. After all, it's long, grinding season. At times, when a player is tired, his legs will feel heavy or jelly-like and he won't be getting great jumps off the opposing pitcher. Other times, a runner will feel light on their feet, and that's when you'll see them taking off for second at every opportunity. The trick for us as fantasy owners is to catch a player when he's about to go on a hot streak. It's easier said than done, but there are some telling signs to look at.

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