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NL-Only Owners, Meet Denard Span

He doesn't excel in any one category, but he's valuable just the same

Hannah Foslien

The Minnesota Twins sent their center fielder to the Washington Nationals yesterday, removing one viable fantasy option from AL-only leagues and plopping him into NL-only formats. Denard Span is an intriguing player when taken out of mixed formats, as he's one of those that's more valuable in reality than in fantasy. He steals bases, but not a significant amount of them. He sometimes hits for average, but not to the point where you can depend on it. His power is decent enough for a center fielder, but nothing exciting from a fantasy perspective. Defense is the key with Span, and you don't get any credit for that.

That's in mixed leagues, though. In NL-only, someone who can do a little bit of everything like Span has value. A .283/.345/.395 line, as he put up last year, is a whole lot of not being bad at his job, and it also came with 17 steals in 23 attempts. Throw in that he's now in a better lineup, and he should be able to boost his runs and maybe even his RBI, too, depending on where it is they have him hitting in 2013.

Don't expect a significant change in his output with the home park switch, though. Target Field leans pitcher-friendly, but it's almost entirely due to how it reduces homers. The dimensions actually boost singles, doubles, and triples, so Span has seen some help there -- or at least, hasn't been hurt by the park -- in the way some other players with more pop have. Span has actually hit .311/.379/.422 at Target Field, a little worse than at the Metrodome -- where turf helped the speedy Span considerably -- but better than his overall career line of .284/.357/.389.

So, Span might pick up a few more homers playing in Washington, given that it's reduction of left-handed power is nowhere near what it is for Target. But, he'll likely lose out on some singles and other extra-base hits he could have had. Maybe a higher Isolated Power, and similar slugging, but with a lower batting average? It would still be valuable, and very Span-ish, but not significantly differently.

The drop he might have in his line, should a few extra homers not come, makes him a tougher sell in mixed formats, but in NL-only, where far worse players than Span are given playing time, it's not as much of a problem. Remember Span on draft day, even if he doesn't excel in any one category: the combination of all that he does makes him worthwhile in the right format.