I wonder if Jayson Werth ever thought of opening his own micro brew? If he does, I think he should probably name it “Shut the H*ll Up” that way people could open a can of it, or even pour themselves a glass. Of course, it’s pretty tough to make gluten free beer, so perhaps a nice rice wine would be better.
Just two years ago, many were decrying the Nats signing of Jayson Werth as the worst free agent signing ever. Some Nats fans–who will henceforth be shunned–took to calling him Werth-less. As recently as 2012 the great Rob Neyer called Jasyon Werth’s contract the worst in baseball. Perhaps baseball’s best writer, Jonah Keri, called Jayson Werth’s contract the 4th worst in baseball just last winter. Well, all I have to say to that is….
Jayson Werth had a very nice 2012 despite breaking his wrist. Going into 2013 some might have even considered him a regression candidate. Over at the Nationals Baseball blog entering 2013, Harper even concluded that Werth’s power was probably gone or rather in extreme decline. So how could so many smart baseball writers be wrong?
I don’t know? I mean seriously, I don’t know. Werth had an excellent 2012 despite breaking his wrist. Sure his power was down hitting just 5 dingerz and posting an ISO of .140, but it’s well known that wrist injuries zap power. Other than that though, Werth was great in 2012 and didn’t deviate terribly from his career norms. Sure his batting average and OBP were up, but it was painfully obvious that Werth had changed his approach at the plate, perhaps due to the wrist injury and perhaps due to being anointed Sir Laurence Leadoff by Nats broadcaster F.P. Santangelo in response to Werth being moved to the leadoff spot. But whatever the reason was, his stroke was shorter and he was taking more balls up the middle.
Fast forward to 2013 and Werth seemed to have consistent power throughout the year. He hit 4 homeruns in April, then missed most of May with an injury, but returned in June to hit 4 homers, followed by 7 in July, 6 in August and another 4 in Sept/Oct. What’s more is that his increased batting average in 2012 continued to increase in 2013 to .318. Perhaps this was due to his move to the 4th spot in the order and becoming Charlie Cleanup, but more likely it’s due to increased wrist strength.
Before we go too far, it should be mentioned that batting average isn’t necessarily a good indicator a hitter’s value. Werth also saw his BABIP make a meager jump from .356 to .358 and he saw his Line Drive Percentage explode from 18.9% to 26.0%. In other words, he didn’t get healthy on Texas Leaguers and squibbers through the infield, Werth raked last year.
No stat better exemplifies Werth’s overall production at the plate than his .403 wOBA, which put him second in National League and 5th in all of baseball. Jayson Werth had an MVP caliber season, despite missing almost a month with a hamstring injury.
Overall, Werth posted a 4.6 fWAR for 2013, which despite Chicken Little references to the contrary, is about in line with what he put up in each of his 3 years in Philly.
While Werth’s contract will never be a bargain, based on 2013 alone it will also never be a Barry Zito or Mike Hampton deal either. According fangraphs.com, Werth was worth $23.2M in 2013. While these calculations are inexact at best, they do provide a good general indicator of player value.
Looking ahead to 2014 there’s no guarantee that Werth will continue to produce at this level. Most likely, he will age and his production will decline, but Werth is known as a workout fiend, who closely monitors his diet and takes good care of himself, in other words: he should age well. While the Nationals shouldn’t expect another season like 2013 from Jayson Werth it is reasonable to expect that he will continue to be a 3.5-4 WAR player if healthy, which in case you haven’t checked lately is pretty rare.