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Span’s Big Numbers Boost

Any time a player achieves a rare feat it surely will lead the discussion the following day. There were a number of notable performances yesterda, but none stood out quite like Denard Span‘s 4 for 4 night, which included three triples. Just minutes after the game ended Andy from the B-R blog got the ball rolling, noting that Span is just the 29th player in MLB history to hit three triples in a game. We’ve seen no shortage of accolades since, and rightly so. Span certainly deserves it.

What stood out to me about Span’s night, beyond his chance for a record-breaking fourth triple later in the game, was how dramatically it changed his season numbers. Coming into the game Span was hitting .275/.347/.367, a .332 wOBA. Those aren’t terrible numbers, especially for a center fielder, but they are below the lofty standards Span set for himself in the last two seasons. Those performances established him as Minnesota’s every day center fielder and earned him an extension. This year, in the first year of his new guaranteed contract, he has gotten off to a slow start.

After three triples, a single, and a walk, Span’s numbers have grown to .284/.356/.394, a .346 wOBA. He added four runs above replacement, raising his WAR from 1.8 to 2.2. These are pretty large changes for this point in the season, and they came with one stellar game. It’s this type of thing that gets me thinking about poor performers. We’re always going to see good players go through slumps, and when those slumps come early it’s easier to notice them in the numbers. How would three-triple, one-single, one-walk, and no-out night look for a number of other disappointing hitters?

This would also with any combination of 10 total bases and no outs recorded, including the cycle.

Joe Mauer. Starting with Span’s teammate, Mauer hasn’t had a poor season by reasonable standards. It’s only his 2009 MVP campaign that makes his .353 wOBA in 2010, fourth among catchers (and that includes non-catcher Mike Napoli) look in any way poor. He’s at .302/.378/.431 right now, and if he repeats Span’s feat tonight he’d be at .313/.390/.463. Not quite MVP level right now, but getting there.

Chipper Jones Injuries have slowed him, but there’s still time for Chipper to rebound and power the Braves offense. His line now: .252/.384/.386, very un-Chipper-like. His line after 10 total bases and a walk: .266/.397/.425.

Hideki Matsui. Acquired to hit cleanup for the Angels this year, Matsui has disappointed in the early goings. His .262/.338/.427 line is certainly below his capabilities, though age and injuries have certainly taken their tolls. With Span’s night he’d be hitting .270/.343/.458.

Mark Teixeira. After a slow start it seemed like Teixeira picked it up in May. Then he slumped. Then he streaked. And slumped. And streaked. It’s resulted in a .230/.343/.409 line, which is below where he’s been at this point in any previous season. Add in 10 total bases and a walk and he’s hitting .240/.352/.437.

Matt Kemp. After a couple of games removed from the starting lineup it looks like Kemp’s ready to get get back at it. If he goes 4 for 4 with three triples and a walk tonight he’ll be hitting .270/.328/.482, against his current .261/.318/.455 line.

Adam Jones. Before the season there was much talk of Jones, now 24, breaking out and helping turn around the Orioles. Instead the O’s are the worst team in baseball and Jones has had a rough time getting on base. After a Span night, he’d improve his .268/.295/.437 line to .278/.305/.464. That would, of course, require him to actually draw a walk.

There are plenty more, of course, and all it takes is one good game to give them a huge boost to poor numbers. Just imagine if they have a 10 total base game, start hitting to their career averages, and then have another one of those games in a month. It sounds like that would end any perception of disappointment pretty quickly.