Newly acquired Nationals center fielder Denard Span said he did not feel like he was back at 100 percent health-wise and was building his strength back from shoulder and concussion issues in 2012. Yet he still put up consistent and crucial offensive numbers in the Twins offense.
His presence in D.C. will mark the first time in their history the Nationals have had a real leadoff hitter/center fielder who has had success elsewhere for a period of time - but at 28 still has his best years ahead of him.
Overall, Span hit .283 with 46 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 561 at-bats for 2012. His best month was July, when he batted .361 and his on-base percentage was .411. He dipped to .221 in June and .220 in August, but every other month he hit at least .250. His on-base percentage was .302 or higher in four of the months.
He consistently contributed 7.3 extra-base hits and 2.9 stolen bases per month. Span walked 47 times and struck out only 62 times in 561 at-bats.
Span said he would like to improve on his stolen bases in D.C., and Tony Tarasco, the Nationals' new first base coach, will be on hand to direct his strategy.
Having Span patrol center field in Nationals Park will allow Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth to control the corners, and his left-handed bat will fit in nicely if the Nationals want to go lefty-righty to start the lineup.
But having such consistency and a player who gets on base at the frequency Span has been able to do in the past opens the doors to even bigger innings for the Nationals' heavy hitters in Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman, Harper, Werth, Ian Desmond and hopefully, Adam LaRoche.