There was a time when Denard Span was a highly sought-after fantasy outfielder, but that was all the way back in 2010! In a breakout 2009 season, Span batted .311/.392/.415 with 97 R, 8 HR, 68 RBI, and 23 SB. He was one of the best all-around options in fantasy and was the 104th player off draft boards.
Span stumbled a little bit in 2010, ranking 133rd overall. Then he missed half of 2011, played poorly when he was on the field, and injuries put a halt to what was a promising revival season in 2012. He finally got his batting average back up and out of the .260s, and he was even on a modest RBI pace. Span played just 128 games, but he ranked 177th overall. Not too shabby.
Then, after years of looking for a reliable center fielder, the Washington Nationals came calling and pulled off a trade for Span. Now he gets to lead off for a team I consider the World Series favorite, ahead of guys like Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche. Span could be in for a huge season, one that just might render this 136-overall ranking a bit on the low side.
At a Glance
Strengths: R, SB, OBP
Neutral: BA, net SB, OPS
Weaknesses: HR, RBI, SLG
Best-case scenario: Angel Pagan (SF)
Likely scenario: Derek Jeter (NYY), Alejandro De Aza (CHW), Ichiro Suzuki (NYY)
Worst-case scenario: Rafael Furcal (STL)
Denard Span 2013 Fantasy Projection
Span has his line-drive rate up and is slated to bat atop a pretty fearsome lineup. That should mean plenty of pitches to hit, so I’ll be a little surprised if Span doesn’t bat at least .280. Depending on how often Washington’s eight-hole hitter (Kurt Suzuki?) gets on base, Span could get a decent number of RBI opportunity (pitcher bunting the eighth batter over to second, Span driving him in), but in the end you’re not drafting Span for his homer or RBI numbers.
Given the at-bats (completely dependent on health), Span will score 80+ runs and steal 15+ bases. Along with a solid average, that should make him rather slump proof in terms of fantasy value. In OBP league Span gets a little boost as a guy with a career .357 OBP that could push .370 in any given year, but he’s not a power threat in the least. Despite a rebound season last year, he only slugged .395. These two strengths and weaknesses counteract each other in OPS leagues (obviously).