The Washington Nationals Finally Get The Leadoff Hitter and CF They’ve Been Lacking In Trade For Denard Span

The Washington Nationals acquired center fielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor-league pitcher Alex Meyer.

Span is a career .284 (669-for-2354) hitter with 105 doubles, 36 triples, 23 home runs, 230 RBI, 90 stolen bases, 254 walks, 360 runs scored in 589 big league contests spanning five seasons (2008-12) with the Twins.

In 2012, Span batted .283 and paced the Twins with 38 doubles en route to notching a .342 on-base percentage.

The left-handed hitting and throwing Span has posted strong offensive output against both right- and left-handed pitching during his career. Span’s offensive numbers are slightly superior when facing left-handed pitching (.293 batting average, .374 OBP, .772 OPS) as opposed to righthanders (.280, .349, .733).

An experienced lead-off hitter, over 96 percent of Span’s at-bats in the big leagues have come while batting at the top of the Twins’ batting order.

Span is also difficult to strike out. In 2012, he ranked sixth in the American League by fanning just once every 9.2 plate appearances. Span was the 10th-most difficult qualified AL player (minimum 1000 plate appearances) to strikeout the last three seasons (9.2 PA/K from 2010-12).

Since his rookie season in 2008, Span’s .357 on-base percentage ranks 10th among all outfielders to amass at least 2500 plate appearances.

Span also offers strong defensive range and advanced instincts. Last season he led all qualified MLB center fielders in both range factor per 9.0 innings (2.89) and putouts per 9.0 innings (2.84).

In both 2009 and ’10, Span helped the Twins capture back-to-back AL Central titles. In six postseason games with Minnesota, Span hit .357 (10-for-28) with a double and one RBI.

This move gives the team a leadoff hitter its lacked since baseball returned to the Nation’s Capital in 2005. It also means that either Mike Morse or free agent Adam LaRoche will not be back with the team next season.

The team has some different options available to them and I’m sure GM Mike Rizzo will make the right moves to improve the roster going into the 2013 season. I think he’s done a great job so far and look forward to seeing what comes next.

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