Denard Dawg doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. He has no rap. Denard Span gets about as much press as fencing in the high school newspaper sports section. Span’s in the shadow of everyone, not just his teammate, the 7-foot-1 Loek van Mil (who’s supposedly very TALLented). Denard couldn’t even get hit on by a waitress at a pool bar. No one wants the guy that barely gets 10 homers or 20 steals. Like the reviews said for Mr. Caps debut album, BORING. It’s true, Span doesn’t have enormous upside. He’s like the 7 1/2 floor in Being John Malkovich, his ceiling and floor are very close to each other. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Everyone on your team doesn’t need to be a guy that can hit 30 homers or steal 30 bases. His numbers last year were 97/8/68/.311/23. That looks boring, but looks can be deceiving. Last year, Span ranked 81st overall on Point Shares, sandwiched between Carlos Lee and Michael Bourn. On ESPN’s Player Rater, he ranked 16th overall for outfielders, between Double I and Shin-Soo Choo. So what can we expect from Span in 2010 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
For 2010, CHONE has Span at 81/7/57/.294/20; James has him at 94/7/63/.300/25. I think they’re both too conservative. I have him projected at 100/10/70/.300/22. Last year, Span’s HR/FB was 5.9%. That seems low. Maybe not by a whole lot, but to get into the low teens in homers, he doesn’t need to do much. Then you throw in Target Field, the Twins new park. It’s small. It’s being compared to Fenway. No one has any idea how it will play until it starts playing. For all anyone knows there will be a reverse Jetstream. But nothing is screaming to me that Span can’t get to 10 homers or past that threshold. Runs? They’ll be there. He had a .392 OBP in 676 plate appearances. With those on base skills, there’s no one taking over for him at the top of the order, leaving him in front of Hudson, Mauer and Morneau. His steals are a little wonky. He had 23 last year, but was caught 10 times. On the Bill James Speed Score, Span had a 6.5. Figgins was at 6.7 and Grandy was 6.1. So Span has the speed to steal more bases. I’m guessing he doesn’t get the reads or good first steps. Those things can be adjusted with the right coach and/or dragon slayer. So I wouldn’t predict a 30 steal season, but I wouldn’t be surprised by one either. Finally, three outfielders being drafted near Span, according to Mock Draft Central, are Nyjer Morgan, Garrett Jones and Rajai Davis. Steals, question mark, steals… Span’s not a question mark or just speed. Over at ESPN, they’re considering Bourn, Nyjer and Kubel around the same time. Steals, steals and cheap power you can find off waivers. A leadoff guy with a great OBP and good speed in a solid lineup… Yeah, Span’s boring as crap but he’s also a fantasy sleeper.