Washington Nationals Editorial: 2015 First Half Awards

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Apr 28, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning at Turner Field. The Nationals defeated the Braves 13-12. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Biggest Surprise: Denard Span

Denard Span has been a spark plug for the Nationals in 2015 when he has been healthy and has helped set the table for All-Star Bryce Harper. Span has slashed .304/.367/.430, five home runs, 22 RBI, 37 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in 59 games.

As a team the Nationals only have 33 stolen bases as a team, and Span has 11 of them. While Span hasn’t been aggressive in stealing bases because of his reoccurring back spasms, he has still contributed in other ways. His .367 on-base percentage is third on the team, behind Harper and Escobar.

The center fielder has shown a patient eye at the plate walking 24 times, and only striking out 26 times. At 31-years-old it looks like Span has put it all together. He has proven President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo right when he acquired the outfielder in a trade with the Twins back in November 2012.

Honorable Mention: Michael Taylor 

Michael Taylor, a 24-year-old rookie, has been a nice surprise in 2015. He’s played every outfield position this year, and played them extremely well. The outfielder has slashed .246/.296/.375, with six home runs, 32 RBI, 24 runs scored and eight stolen bases.

While his average leaves some to be desired, he still has been asked to do a lot in his first full Major League season. Taylor’s defense has been stellar this season, the outfielder has committed only two errors all season, and has a .988 fielding percentage at the end of the first half. Both of his errors have come from when he has been playing center field. Plus, Taylor has made some game saving plays in left field over the course of the first half.

While Taylor does have 79 strikeouts this year, he hit .283 in the month of June, when he was getting more playing time due to injuries. The Nats have used him in different parts of the order this season, whether it be in the leadoff spot or the bottom of the lineup.

In the second half Taylor’s playing time may be cut back, with Jayson Werth coming back from injury. However Taylor could make a case with a strong second half that he should be an everyday outfielder when the 2016 regular season begins.

Next: Biggest Disappointment