April 14, 2009

Span Trying to Prove Critics Wrong

Denard Span is not showing any signs of a sophomore slump.

lthough it's still early, if this season has taught us anything it is to not put too much stock into Spring Training results. At least in the case of Denard Span. His poor results in Spring Training made his critics look right up until the first game of the season.

Span had a phenomenal rookie season in 2008. He took on the role of table setter for the Twins, providing an .819 OPS which was .110 points higher than his career Minor League OPS. And he did so at an important time. While Michael Cuddyer was injured and Carlos Gomez was struggling at leadoff, Span stepped up in right field to give the Twins both a reliable hitter as well as a reliable defender.

Still after all of that, some believed Span had something to prove in Spring Training. He ended up leading the team in at bats, but hit below the Mendoza Line while struggling to get on base, which is crucial for any leadoff hitter.

Span entered the season as one of five Twins outfielders vying for playing time in four spots in the lineup (including DH). Unfortunately for Span, the other outfield options looked impressive in Spring Training which brought up the question whether or not Span is worth a starting spot in the lineup.

Span's minor league track record showed that he was a light-hitting, speedy outfielder with poor plate discipline with good defense and was likely a Major League fourth outfielder. While the defense has remained impecable, through 376 at bats, Span has proved that he should be at the top of the lineup nearly everyday.

Span is a menace for opposing hitters. He takes pitches, draws walks and has good pitch recognition. He's certainly making manager Ron Gardenhire look good for the high amount of faith he showed in Span since he came to the Twins a year ago.

A week into the season doesn't make Span a fixture for the future by any means, but it's hard to imagine him not succeeding with the way he has played since he first reached the Majors.

This can also be read at BaseballDigest.com