Washington Nationals Analysis: Denard Span Setting The Tone At The Top
By Ricky Keeler
The Washington Nationals have been one of the best offenses in baseball over the course of the last month. One of the main reasons for that, besides the 18 home runs from Bryce Harper, has been the top of the order getting themselves on base and setting up run scoring opportunities. On Tuesday, I mentioned how the Nationals should keep Ian Desmond in the number two spot of the batting order. Today, let’s talk about the guy who sets the tone in the leadoff spot, Denard Span.
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Span made his 2015 debut on April 19 after having surgery on his core muscle back in March. Over the nine games he played in April, Span went 13-for-43 with two home runs and seven RBI’s. Of course, the game everyone remembers from the 31-year old center fielder is his performance in the “turn around” game on April 27. In the 13-12 win over the Braves, Span went 5-for-6 with three doubles, a solo home run, and four runs scored.
With three days left in the month of May, Span has showed off some more power. He has three runs home runs this month, which is third on the team behind Danny Espinosa (four) and of course, Bryce Harper (13). Span has five home runs this season, which is already three shy of his career high of eight that he had in 2009 with the Twins.
Of course, the Nats don’t pay Span to hit the long ball. Lately, he has been racking up the hits. Take a look at his last ten games. Over that stretch, he has five multi-hit games and is hitting .333 with two home runs and five RBI’s. Against the Cubs, he was 5-for-12 with a pair of homers.
This month, Span has 28 hits, which is tied for third on the team with Ian Desmond and two behind Yunel Escobar and Harper. He is also tied with Escobar for the second highest on-base percentage at .371 with Escobar this month (Harper has an on-base of .500).
While Span hasn’t stolen many bases like you would usually see from a leadoff hitter, he has made up for it with his defense. This team definitely missed him during the first two weeks as the leader in the outfield. He has been the rotation’s best friend, running down practically everything hit in the outfield. Plus, you haven’t seen those communication errors by the outfielders that you saw when Michael Taylor was in center.
If Span can continue getting on base and set up Escobar, Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman for more run-scoring opportunities, the Washington Nationals offense will keep up their total of 116 runs this month, which is third in the National League. We can talk about Harper, but Span is the one that sets the tone for this lineup and this team defensively.