Jayson Werth: National League Ranking


Sep 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth (28) heads back to the dugout after he strikes out in the fourteenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Nationals won 8-5 in fourteen innings. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As part of District On Deck’s ongoing series ranking Nationals players with their peers at the position, today’s column focuses on Jayson Werth.

In this ranking for Werth we will be using statistics for the last two years to get a decent sample size – to see just how good Nationals players are. In this effort, we will see which parts of the team need to be fixed and which are solid compared to the rest of the league. The first step for the Nationals is to win the division, so if any National League East player comes across in our findings, we will be sure to point it out. If not, the main goal is winning the National League Pennant and going to the World Series. The statistics being used come from FanGraphs.

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I will analyze standard offensive and defensive statistics, as well as advanced statistics. This will give us a full picture of who the best players are at that position. To put the players in some type of order, we will be using WAR. That gives us a baseline to start the analysis.

Over the last two years, the top five National League right fielders by WAR were (in order) Hunter Pence (WAR 10.2), Jayson Werth (WAR 9.3), Yasiel Puig (WAR 9.1), Jason Heyward (WAR 8.5) and Giancarlo Stanton (WAR 8.4). Marlon Byrd is sixth on list with a drop off in WAR to 6.0. The Nationals right fielder is clearly a superior player in terms of WAR.

FanGraphs also lists players using a statistic called Off (combined hitting and base running) and Def (total defensive value).

Jayson Werth is the top right fielder in the NL in the Off category, with an Off rating of 69.0 Rounding out the top five are Giancarlo Stanton (Off 60.9), Yasiel Puig (58.4), Hunter Pence (57.7) and Michael Cuddyer (Off 37.3). This list includes players that are power hitters, base stealers, or some of both. Werth’s hitting and base running skills put him at the top.

On the Defensive side, the top five defensive right fielders in the NL over the last two years were Jason Heyward (26.6), Gerardo Parra (20.6), Chris Denorfia (16.1), Shane Robinson (3.6) and Jordan Shafer (0.3). Then the negative numbers start appearing on the list. Roger Bernadina is next on the list with a -0.1. Had to give a shout out to the Shark.

Jayson Werth defensively in this statistical category ranks 43rd out of 47 players on the defensive contribution list, with a defensive number of -17.5. The other bottom dwellers in this category are interesting, and they include Matt Kemp (-41.8), Michael Cuddyer (-23.7), Carlos Beltran (-21.4), and Giancarlo Stanton (-18.2). Appears that you can either hit or play defense using these stats, unless you are Jason Heyward, then you can do both.

As an aside, am I the only Nats fan happy that the Braves were dumb enough to trade Heyward instead of locking him down on a long term deal? I doubt it.

Now lets examine UZR/150 or Ultimate Zone Rating (scaled to 150 games) which is a great metric for comparing players based on defense, as it calculates the number of runs a fielder saves (or gives up) in range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined.

Tops for the last two years in the UZR/150 rating are Heyward (20.7), Gerardo Parra (17.9), Nori Aoki (4.3), Hunter Pence (4.2) and Marlon Byrd (3.1). Werth’s rating is -2.8, which is number seven on the list. Below him are Stanton, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Braun and Carlos Beltran.

When analyzing players using wOBA (weighted on base average), which is a statistic that tries to measure different aspects of hitting and weighs them in proportion to their run value, Werth is in the top five. The league leaders over the last two years are Michael Cuddyer (.401), followed by Werth in the second spot (.389), Giancarlo Stanton (.387), Yasiel Puig (.387) and Carlos Beltran (.359). Werth’s hits have a high run percentage value. Is this a way to measure clutch hits? Perhaps.

BAPIP is a statistic that measures batting average on balls in play. Again Werth is in the top five in this category. The top five players over the last two years in this category are Michael Cuddyer (.373), Yasiel Puig (366), Brandon Barnes (.364), Werth (.350) and Matt Kemp (.348).

In the RBI category, Jayson Werth again cracks the top five. The right fielders who drove in the most runs in the last two years are Jay Bruce (175), Hunter Pence (173), Marlon Byrd (173), Giancarlo Stanton (167) and Werth with 154. The fall off in RBI to the number six spot is steep, with Allen Craig making sixth on the list with 141.

Batting Average is a statistic that has always been shorthand for how a player is hitting. The top right fielders on the BA list are Cuddyer (.331), Puig (.305), Werth (.304), Beltran (.296) and Charlie Blackmon (.294).

In the Home Run category, Werth is again in the top five, having hit 41 in the last two years. Above him on the list are Stanton with 61, Marlon Byrd with 49, Jay Bruce with 48, and Hunter Pence with 47.

How does Werth measure up comparing all right fielders in Major League Baseball over the last two years in terms of WAR? Jayson is the number three right fielder using the WAR statistic in all of MLB in the last two years. The top five fight fielders are Jose Bautista (WAR 10.5), Hunter Pence (WAR 10.2), Werth with a WAR of 9.3, Puig (WAR 9.1), and Heyward (WAR 8.5). Stanton is number six on the list. Clearly the NL has the best overall right field talent in the majors.

The numbers show that Jayson Werth is one of the best right fielders in Major League Baseball. Given the size of the contract recently inked by Giancarlo Stanton, Werth’s large contract with the Nationals doesn’t look so expensive. In fact, if Werth were on the open market right now he would command more money over the next three years than the Nats are paying him.

Note: The excellent descriptions of the meaning and components of statistics used in this post were provided by District On Deck Editor Pablo Roa.