Nationals-Mets lineups: Denard Span’s new-found aggressiveness

Toni L. Sandys/TWP

Toni L. Sandys/TWP

Nationals Manager Davey Johnson joked after Saturday’s game that he and other coaches on the bench nearly fell out of their seats when they saw Denard Span swing at the first pitch he saw in his first at-bat. The approach produced Span’s first home run of the season, a shot to right field that snapped a streak of 426 plate appearances without one.

“It hasn’t taken this long to hit a home run in a while,” Span said. “Probably since A-ball.”

Johnson liked what he saw from Span, an aggressive approach since he was dropped from leadoff to seventh in the lineup. In three at-bats on Saturday, Span saw only four totals pitches. In his seven games as the No. 7 hitter, Span is averaging 3.15 pitches per plate appearance. In that small sample size, he is hitting .308 with a .308 on-base percentage.

When he was hitting leadoff, Span was more deliberate. His season-long struggles with his swing and timing led to the worst season of his career so far. He is batting .258 with a .313 on-base percentage. In 89 games hitting leadoff, Span averaged 3.83 pitches per plate appearance.

“I’m hitting seventh so I don’t have to worry about going up there trying to see pitches,” Span said. “By the time I get up there, I’ve already seen six guys hit so, I already have a good idea of what that pitcher’s doing. When I get up there, if they’re going to throw me a first-pitch fastball, I’m going to swing. It’s different when I’m leading off, I try to see as many pitches as possible. But hitting seventh there’s really no rules.”

Also, Jayson Werth continued his torrid July hitting streak on Saturday and is back in the heart of the Nationals’ order. His .443 on-base percentage for the month is second among National League players, his .646 slugging percentage ranks third and OPS of 1.090 is also third. He has seven homers and 20 RBI in 24 games this month.

Nationals

1. Bryce Harper, LF

2. Anthony Rendon, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Jayson Werth, RF

6. Ian Desmond, SS

7. Denard Span, CF

8. Wilson Ramos, C

9. Taylor Jordan, SP

 

Mets

1. Eric Young, Jr. SS

2. Josh Satin, 3B

3. Daniel Murphy, 2B

4. Marlon Byrd, RF

5. Ike Davis, 1B

6. John Buck, C

7. Juan Lagares, CF

8. Omar Quintanilla, SS

9. Carlos Torres, SP

Also on Nationals Journal

Nationals could upgrade bench at the trade deadline