Waiver review: Bourn's putting up numbers
The All-Star break is coming up quickly, and we'll start scrawling out columns about the undeserved nods and those who've been shown the door from the midsummer classic.
Next week, I'll offer a written tribute to our first-half heroes and zeroes, and I promise not to write more than 5,000 words extolling the virtues of Albert Pujols. I feel there's also a longwinded diatribe about Manny Ramirez and the dedication shown by Josh Hamilton supporters in there somewhere.
It's been an interesting half, with perhaps more "dud-worthy" candidates and significant injuries than we've seen in some time. Congratulations if you skated through the first half unscathed. Just know that the fickle hand of fate (read: the disabled list) generally finds us all at some juncture.
I'm turning my attention back to the waiver wire for this pre-holiday rant. It's another order of the baker's dozen, celebrating 13 forgotten players who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy leagues.
Although I can't flick you on the forehead to seek out the smoking-hot Ricky Nolasco, who's now owned in 53 percent of leagues, I have scoured the wire for some additional gems.
Michael Bourn, OF, PHI (36.9% owned)
Let's face it, you're not even looking at Bourn for your final outfield slot if you have any need for power (two home runs in 325 plate appearances), but he can steal bases in a flash (25 overall, with nine in June). We knew he'd pile on the stolen bases if he could get on, and I'm most impressed by Bourn's two-month contribution to the batting average category. Since May 1, he's batted .297 (66-for-222) and improved his walk rate markedly in June (15 walks against 21 strikeouts). He's definitely decent value for a fifth outfielder.
Brett Gardner, OF, NYY (3.8% owned)
Gardner was a popular late-round pick because of his expected role of speedster for the Yankees. If nothing else, owners were banking on some thefts, runs scored and a solid batting average. He's certainly provided help in the stolen base department (17), but I'm excited to see him swing a more consistent bat of late. He hit .333 in June (16-for-48) with eight stolen bases.
Miguel Olivo, C, KC (15% owned)
Olivo always showed signs of a power stroke in his early years with the White Sox. He had a phenomenal June for the Royals in which he slammed eight home runs, five doubles and a triple while driving in 17 runs and batting .295. He also hit .281 in May following a horrid April, so he's found his stroke. He's worthy of a second backstop slot right now.
Scott Rolen, 3B, TOR (39.1% owned)
Sure, Rolen isn't posting big power numbers as in the past, but how do you ignore a 19-game hitting streak? He's batted .423 (33-for-78) during his current hot spell with seven doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI. I'm also intrigued by his high contact rate. He's struck out in just 11 percent of his 2009 at-bats.
Josh Willingham, OF, WAS (13.7% owned)
Willingham missed time in the middle of June following the death of his brother, but he's returned to swing a hot bat over the past two weeks. He's hit at a .452 clip (14-for-31) with seven doubles and six RBI since. Although he hasn't homered since the end of May, the high doubles rate portends to a second-half power burst.
Gordon Beckham, 3B, CWS (1.7% owned)
The White Sox called up their 2008 first-round pick in early June, and he's acclimated to big league pitching in a hurry. He enters the weekend with a six-game hitting streak, a period during which he's hit .571 (12-for-21) with six RBI and a stolen base. His plate discipline (13 strikeouts against nine walks) is far superior than anyone could have expected at this juncture.
Doug Davis, SP, ARI (21.8% owned)
Davis qualifies as "crafty" at this stage of his career and will be one of pitchers potentially changing homes at the deadline. He was effective during June, pitching to a strong 2.43 ERA despite sporting an atrocious walk rate (18 in 29 2/3 IP). He's been an infrequent visitor to the win column (three), but it's hard to ignore the contribution he's making to the ERA, and he strikes out 6.66 batters per nine IP.