The Nationals' offense has been among the best in the majors in the month of July, and lately we've seen exactly how integral Denard Span can be in keying their success.
The Nats center fielder went 4-for-5 in the team's 4-1 win over the Reds on Friday night, again setting the table for a lineup that has proven dangerous when healthy this season.
Span is now hitting .289/.339/.389 on the year. His .737 OPS ranks fourth among NL center fielders and his batting average leads the Nats.
Span may not draw as many walks or hold the on-base percentage of a prototypical leadoff hitter, but when he is on there are few better at setting the table.
Over his last eight games, Span has 18 hits. Seven of his last 10 outings have been of the multi-hit variety.
Span is batting .387 in July. In 18 games this month he's gone hitless just twice.
Here are his full July numbers so far:
18 G - 75 AB - 29 H - .387 BA - 4 2B - 15 R - 5 SB - 8 BB - 10 SO
Now look at his rankings among MLB center fielders this season:
.289 average - 6th
.339 OBP - 8th
62 runs - 3rd
111 hits - 5th
29 doubles - 2nd
18 steals - 7th
5 triples - 4th
35 extra-base hits - 5th
153 total bases - 7th
In Friday's win, Span drove in the Nats' second run of the game in the fourth inning with a single to score Wilson Ramos. Then, in the sixth inning, he started a rally by singling with one out off J.J. Hoover. Anthony Rendon walked to move Span to second before a single by Adam LaRoche brought him in for the team's fourth run.
Span has been heating up this month and could just be getting started. Many remember what he did in the second half of last season when he posted a MLB-best 29-game hit streak. But getting hot in July is just par for the course for the 7-year pro.
Span, a career .284 hitter, hits .316 in July. Last season he hit .262 from April through June before batting .295 from July through September.
Span's 4-hit night on Friday was the 20th such game of his career. He also added a run and a stolen base. The latter contribute to a pace that would give him 104 runs and 30 stolen bases on the year. Given his defense is as good as any in the majors, there's not much more you could ask for from the 30-year-old.