32-year-old speed first players coming off of hip surgery tend to get overlooked, and that's probably a smart way to evaluate players. But Denard Span is worthy of a second glance. He is the prototypical leadoff hitter, and the move to the NL West should help him going forward. His new team plays in AT&T Park, a place that is known for being a pitcher's paradise. The park is obviously massive and won't be doing favors to lefties in the home run department, but Span doesn't hit homers, so worrying about him dropping from 5 homers to 2 isn't worth your while.
What AT&T does do, is boost lefties doubles and triples, and Span is very capable in that department. In the past he's averaged 30 doubles and 10 triples per season. Steamer projects him to have 31 doubles and 5 triples in 126 games. I think all three of those are low. The Giants, outside of the Barry Zito deal, have done a good job of signing contracts that have been good for the team. A three-year deal is an indication that the Giants believe he is ok coming off of surgery, and if he's mobile, Span should be motoring around the bases as he always has. With that said, he's only played over 150 games twice in his career, and more typically sits around 140 games. I think Span could easily reach 40 doubles this year since the larger park gives him more area for hits to land.
Moving out of the NL East means he no longer has to face the endless stream of aces that he used to face, and now gets to enjoy the staffs in Colorado and Arizona more often.
The lineup he is entering is also looking like a long lineup that will make Span a run scoring machine.
Gregor Blanco/ Angel Pagan
From Span himself, I don't expect any improvement or regression. He's a reliable hitter with a .287 career average, and since 2014 he's hit .301/.358/.421 (.778 OPS). He hits a lot of line drives and ground balls, good for sporting high averages, he sprays the ball to all fields, he does a decent job of making hard contact on a regular basis considering his profile, and he runs well. Another season around .300 should be just what the doctor ordered. He also does a good job of working walks, and limiting his strike outs, which should help him stay at the top of the Giants order even when he slumps.
The real reason I wrote about Span is that he is incredibly underpriced heading into drafts. He's presently being taken as the 72nd outfielder, and is 299th overall. In a 12 team ESPN standard league, that makes him the last player in the entire draft. I think Span is more than capable of being an OF 4-5 and he's squarely in the land of backup outfielders. Players this low in the rankings are generally dependent on teammates driving them in, or being run producers, and Span is in a position to thrive off of his teammates success. So next year, don't build your team around Span, but if you are anything like me and like to try and stockpile power early, sit back and take Span as your R and SB help later, and enjoy the average on top.