2011 Fantasy Baseball Profile: Can Denard Span Rebound?

Feb 18, 2011


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Denard Span played a career high 153 games, had a career high 629 at bats, slugged a career high 24 doubles, tied a career high with ten triples, and stole a career high 26 bases while being caught a career low four times. Those were the positives.
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Despite the additional at bats, he scored 85 runs, which was down 12 from last year. He scored those 97 runs in 578 at bats. In his rookie season he scored 70 runs in 347 at bats. Part of the blame lies in his diminishing walk rate. In 2008 he had a .124 BB/PA (bases on balls per plate appearance). In 2009 it dipped to .105. Last year it sunk to .086.
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Not only was he walking less, but his average took a major hit as well. After hitting .294 as a rookie and .311 last year to avoid the sophomore slump, Span hit just .264, which is discouraging because he hit .308 in the spring with 13 runs in 20 games. Unfortunately he struck his mom with a foul ball as spring training was wrapping up. It’s hard to quantify the effect it had on his game, but the numbers suggest it took a toll.
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Span opened the 2010 season going five for 32 (.156) in the first nine games. He finished the month hitting just .211. He went on a tear in May hitting .353, but battled various injuries (foot, shoulder) and hit just .250 the rest of the way. Ron Gardenhire has already said that he wants to rest Span more in the upcoming year, which could actually help improve his numbers so he doesn’t burn out down the stretch.
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Span hit just three home runs last year, after hitting six and eight in his first two years, but Target Field had that effect on pretty much everybody. While I don’t expect a major turnaround in his power numbers, I do think his batting average will come back.
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Span had a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .295, which is a far cry from what someone of his speed usually produces. In his first two years his BABIP were .358 and .342 respectively. Assuming his luck improves, so should his average.
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I don’t think you should build your team around him, but he’s a solid third outfielder. He is the 42nd ranked outdfielder according to Mock Draft Central, going on average with the 171st pick. Even if you take him before the 15th round like his ADP suggests, I think you’ll be getting a good bargain from a guy who will likely produce a .300-95-5-60-25 line.
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