If you feel like I’ve been posting about Denard Span a lot, you’re right! That’s what you get for having a CF-playing leadoff hitter who keeps doing interesting things like running his own Twitter account and signing team-friendly extensions and such. So deal with it.
This time around, it’s Span’s speed and baserunning ability that step to the foreground. Buster Olney passes along some quick bits from Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats & Information (insider only):
“Span stole only 23 bases last season (tied for 32nd in MLB), but that statistic really doesn’t give a complete picture of his baserunning ability. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Span accumulated 29 Bases Taken (includes bases advanced on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks and defensive indifference), the second-highest total in the majors last season. Here’s the list of the highest from last season:
David Wright – 31
Denard Span – 29
Troy Tulowitzki – 27
Dexter Fowler – 27
Here’s another impressive stat for the speedy Span: He had a .667 batting average on bunts (10 hits, 15 at-bats), which is nearly double the major league average of .376.
As I understand it, Fangraphs’ WAR does not include baserunning, which means these Bases Taken increases Span’s actual value significantly, and I didn’t take it into account when determining whether his contract was a good one.
The aggressive base-taking skills combined with the excellent speed that it takes to go 10/15 on bunts should mean that Span has the ability to steal considerably more than 23 bases in a season; of course, base stealing is a skill that Denard may not have developed yet, but I’d be curious to see what he can do once he does.
While it’s generally considered a bad idea to try to steal bases with your best hitters at the plate (because you don’t want to take the bat out of their hands), it seems to me that the fact that Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer both ground into a ton of double plays should encourage the Twins to work with Span-the-speedy-onbase-machine to take the next step in becoming the ultimate leadoff hitter, and start stealing second base to take the GIDP off the list of possibilities for Hudson’s and Mauer’s plate appearances.
So what do you think? Should Span be trying to steal more? How many bases do you think he’s capable of stealing in a season? 30? 40? Let me know in the comments.10 comments