We started the Hot Stove season with rumors that Denard Span could possibly be on the move. Well, we are about a month removed from all of that and things seem to be dead quiet. Jacoby Ellsbury has found a new home in New York and Denard Span is still in Washington D.C. There are some other big name guys out there on the market in the outfield, but I don’t see any of them making their way to the nation’s capital.
What does all this mean for the Nationals next season? First off it means that they get a very consistent center fielder that can track down balls without making many mistakes. In 2013 he was able to go mistake free in the outfield according to the stat sheet. He made zero errors and was awarded the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year for the Nationals. You can’t ask anymore out of Span in the field.
On the other side of the coin, his offense was shaky at times. He really struggled to adjust to a new team early in the season, but as time went on things got better. That is all you can ask. We have to remember, these players outside of the jerseys are human beings, with emotions. Emotions had to be riding high for Span as he came in looking to impress. As he started to settle down things got better.
They got better by him having a 29 game hitting streak towards the end of the season. This was the longest by a Nationals player since Ryan Zimmerman in 2009 had 30. That is pretty impressive. The hitting streak by Joe DiMaggio may never be broken, but it always fun to pay attention when someone gets around the 30 mark.
Span had an overall good first season with the Nationals. It wasn’t great, but good. That just leaves room for improvement for this coming season, which looks like will be in D.C.
Is this a good good or bad thing? I believe it is good that Span is staying. You aren’t going to find anyone on the market that is going to be as consistent as him in the outfield. At the plate, he has room for improvement but I think he does that this winter and comes out and shows people something. He will have a chip on his shoulder, after the rumors of him being traded.
It will be key to see where Matt Williams puts him on the lineup card each day, whether that be leading off or hitting seventh. Does he work on his abilities at the plate over the winter enough to lead this high powered offense and team to the promise land? It is a lot of pressure to lead off for a contending team. It isn’t easy. Again these are human beings underneath the jersey.
I will welcome Span back with open arms and wish him a great 2014 season. He is the catalyst for the offense whether you think so or not. It isn’t Bryce Harper hitting in the five hole. It is Denard Span leading off each and every game and getting the most at bats out of everyone on the team. That pressure is on him to succeed and I believe he takes that pressure and turns it into success at the plate in 2014.