Apr 25, 2013; Washington, DC, USA;Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span (2) steals second base as the ball gets by Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (2) at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down the Nats Acquisition of David DeJesus

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Oh, you can get on base and draw walks, well we don’t need you then, walks cheat the game, get in there and hit.

The Nationals have acquired David DeJesus from the Cubs for the always popular PTBNL. Assuming that Player To Be Named Later’s real name doesn’t rhyme with Mayjay Cole, Frian Goodwin, or Rucas Giolito the Nationals have essentially acquired DeJesus as a salary dump. Oh yeah, and on the way there they got pounded by the Cubs 11-1, who are now 54-70 and have the second worst record in the National League.

While that glimmer of hope inside me just doesn’t want to die and every night I think is going to be the beginning of a historic Nats run to make it to the playoffs and eventually the World Series, it’s probably just some bad Thai I ate the other day causing me to have serious delusions, except there’s no such thing as bad Thai food, only delectably spicy goodness. So, while my heart may not want to admit it, my mind tells me the Nats are now playing for next year. I guess we could all just pretend that we hopped in the Hot Tub Time Machine and headed way back to 2011 and instead say, “Next year is when the Nationals talent will arrive and they’ll finally be good.”

Along those lines is David DeJesus. While I would have personally preferred if the Nationals had acquired DeJesus back in 2009 when he was a 3.5 WAR player, what they got in 2013 is still pretty good and certainly an upgrade. His .732 OPS is a lot better than Roger Bernadina’ s .517 OPS, which was more chum-like than shark-like. It’s also significantly better than Denard Span’s .670 OPS. And that folks, is where things get interesting.

As a replacement for Roger Bernadina, DeJesus is an obvious upgrade, but did the Nats really just pick up a replacement for Denard Span? DeJesus has strictly played CF this year, and while he isn’t as good as Span defensively, he’s posted a UZR/150 of 8.6 this year and has a lifetime UZR/150 of -0.5 in CF according to fangraphs.com.

Both DeJesus and Span have had very good seasons in the past so the difficulty comes in trying to predict their futures. Span had a couple of very good seasons with the Twins in 2008 and 2009, but hasn’t come close to producing .380+ OBP’s since. In fact, since the 2011 season in which Span suffered a concussion he’s posted OBP’s of .328 in 2011 and .342 in 2012, but if you toss in his rather pedestrian OBP of .331 in 2010 it’s beginning to look like his first two years were an aberration instead of his last two. Span’s OBP is very important because he hits for almost zero power and doesn’t steal a ton of bases.

DeJesus, on the other hand, has had a difficult time staying healthy, or rather not running into walls. Besides the obvious risk that this could somehow rub-off on Bryce Harper, the other potential issue is DeJesus not being in the lineup for long stretches of time. That being said, it’s not like Denard Span is going somewhere so the Nats have a backup. DeJesus has a career OBP of .354, but unlike Span there’s some consistency in his numbers instead of just having an average buoyed by a couple of great years.

All that’s just crazy-talk though because we all know the Nats don’t worry about silly stats like On Base Percentage, not when they’ve got scouts! Who cares about the silly numbers some nerds made up, probably in their mother’s basement while watching episodes of Doctor Who (love that show), even if those silly numbers would have told you that this is what you should have expected from Denard Span. Mike Rizzo watches games from the field not from a luxury suite. Denard Span is a prototypical lead-off hitter who’s fast and can bunt…okay, well at least he’s fast.

After signing DeJesus, the Nats almost immediately placed him on waivers according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Perhaps they acquired DeJesus to block him from another “contender”. It’s fun to dream though, but if you’re a big fan of weak ground balls to the right side, you’re in luck, it looks like Denard Span’s job is safe and sound and he’ll be back next year hitting in the leadoff spot, but hey next year all of the Nats talent will arrive and it’ll finally be there year!

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Tags: David Dejesus Denard Span Mike Rizzo Roger Bernadina Washington Nationals

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