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Nationals' outfielder Denard "Second-Half" Span doing it again

A 36-game on-base streak that started in the first half and just kept going. A .369/.420/.456 line in 39 games in the second half. A 409 ft bomb of a home run in Citizens Bank Park. Nationals' outfielder Denard Span continues to impress...

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of Washington Nationals' leadoff man Denard Span's on-base streak, which went on for 36 games, the 30-year-old center fielder put up a .396/.463/.458 line with seven doubles, a triple, 19 walks and 16 Ks.

Span's streak ended with an 0 for 5 night against the New York Mets in Citi Field on August 12th, in which he failed to reach base for the first time since June 28th.

"I can't really put my finger on it. Other than going home for the All-Star Break, and just getting a little bit of time off. A little bit of prayer helped..." -Denard Span on his second-half success on the MLB Network

Span started the impressive stretch with a .268/.313/.392 line and ended it with a .306/.360/.412 line.

After a .269/.319/.385 first half of the 2014 campaign in which he hit 28 doubles, five triples and a home run with 15 stolen bases in 84 games and 384 plate appearances, Span has put up a .369/.420/.456 line in 39 games and 177 plate appearances in the second half, with seven doubles, two triples, a home run and 12 stolen bases.

In a recent MLB Network appearance, Span said the All-Star Break really helped him get comfortable.

"I can't really put my finger on it," Span said. "Other than going home for the All-Star Break, and just getting a little bit of time off. A little bit of prayer helped and just came back with a new mindset and new attitude."

While some have joked that fellow Nats' outfielder Bryce Harper's comments about the ideal Nationals' lineup might have inspired Span's run of success, leading to him being tied with Buster Posey for the NL lead in WAR in the second half at +2.0 fWAR, Span said he thought the comments were overblown in the media and they never really bothered him.


"I think it was overblown," Span said. "I try not to get caught in all the media stuff. I know what my job is to do. When it came out we hashed it out and ever since then everything has been fine. I can't say sit up here and say that I used that as motivation, because I don't need anything like that to motivate me.

"I'm my toughest critic already and I just was able to get going."

"I can't say sit up here and say that I used that as motivation, because I don't need anything like that to motivate me." -Denard Span on reaction to Bryce Harper's lineup comments

It's the second year in a row that Span's really turned it on in the second half. In his career, in his seventh season in the majors now, Span has put up a .277/.349/.349 line in the first half and a .298/.363/.408 line in the second half.

After posting a .263/.320/.358 line in the first half last year in his first season in the nation's capital, Span picked it up in the second half as the Nationals surged and put up a .302/.337/.413 line after the All-Star Break. He even hit four home runs in the final 64 games of his first campaign as a National.

Of all the impressive things he's done in the last two seasons, however, his 409 ft blast into the second deck in Citizens Bank Park off Phillies' right-hander Kyle Kendrick is up there on the list just because it came as such a shock.

It was just his second home run of the year, and his first in 385 plate appearances since he took Reds' right-hander Alfredo Simon deep to lead off the bottom of the first in a May 22nd game at home in D.C., but it was an absolute bomb.

Nats' skipper Matt Williams said he wasn't too surprised by the unexpected power displayed by Span.

"He swings it good," Williams said after the third straight loss to the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park. "He's got home run capability. He's been hitting a lot of balls the other way and up the middle, so that doesn't lend to homers, but yeah, he's got some pop to his pull side."

Span has slowed somewhat since his on-base streak ended, with a .279/.313/.410 line in the last 15 games, but he's still put together an impressive .339/.360/.459 line so far in August, turning it on down the stretch as the Nationals make another run.

• Here's that last home run:


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