May 12, 2013; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) doubles in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Denard Span: Bounce Back Season


Washington Nationals fans weren’t too excited about Denard Span‘s first season in D.C. He struggled at the plate for most of the year and could never really get it going until it was too late. So as you can expect fans officially “hate” Denard Span, until next season when he hits a game winning single and they “love” him again. That is the sports world today – fans love and hate a player based on the last thing he did.

Well, I got news for you, Span is going to have a bounce back season. The end of last season is a sign. He started to play freely and not worry about anything else but playing the game hard.

Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

If you watched his very short interview on MLB Network during the Winter Meetings, you would of heard him say that the style of play was too laid back. Well towards the end of the season he started doing what he wanted and playing the game his way. Look what it got him, a great ending to the season and a 29 game hit streak at one point in the season. Expect that style to roll over to 2014.

Everyone has those first season jitters in a new organization and under a new manager. Davey Johnson wasn’t the right fit for Denard Span, as he likes to go all out, all the time. Same goes for Bryce Harper, and we all saw how their relationship was.

Span also mentioned that he will go back to his bunting game next season. Johnson sorta took that part of the game away last season. He was an old school guy, depending on the gap double or homer to score runs. It wasn’t about stealing bases, hit and runs and bunts with Davey. Expect that to all change in 2014 under Matt Williams.

In his last two seasons in Minnesota he got on base via the bunt over 50% of the time. That is a huge number, that he can use to his advantage. Soon you will see the average and on base percentage rise in his favor. Which it did in Minnesota. His first season in D.C. under Johnson, his bunt hit percentage was 10.5%. A 40% drop from one season to the next and it wasn’t because of injury or lack of speed, it was the style of play.

On the defensive side, Span was fabulous. He has been for the last four seasons. He has had a UZR/150 over 7 in each of the last four seasons. His 2011 season was cut short, but was still a fabulous defensive season.

Span will be coming off a season making zero errors. Well, I hate to break it to you, but don’t hold it over his head if he happens to make an error in 2014. He takes risks that some center fielders don’t take to make the fantastic catch to save a run, instead of letting the ball drop in front of him and taking it on a bounce. He is that type of player that will save the Nationals more runs than he gives up. He doesn’t have the greatest arm, but he makes up for it with his speed and tremendous ball hawking ability.

You just have to give him a chance. One season doesn’t define a career. If it did, you would be wanting to trade Bryce Harper right now after his down year at the plate, but you don’t do you? You know why, because you think he can turn it around… Why not the same for Span? He has proven himself in this league time and time again. Give Span a chance, you will be glad you did.

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