October 6, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth (28) bats during game three of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
2. Jayson Werth
Did I mention that I was concerned with the National’s lineup entering this season?
I know I shouldn’t be. There are no apparent weaknesses. But, just like a concerned parent, I can always see “room for improvement”.
What I see is a lineup prone to injury with not too much in reserve. I see an aging core (Bryce Harper/Antony Rendon notwithstanding) missing a power hitting Adam Laroche. I see a key big bat in the middle of the lineup, in the form of Jayson Werth, returning from AC joint surgery on his right shoulder just before opening day.
HR/FB rate dropped almost 9% points from 18.0% to 9.4%
Jayson Werth is entering his fifth season for the Nats and coming of a great year where he went .292/.394/.455, but at 35 he may have hit his peak last year going a ridiculous .318/.398/.532. Steamer still predicts him at an almost 3 win player this season, but there has been a noticeable dip in his power since 2013.
His ISO dropped from .214 to .163 and his HR/FB rate dropped almost 9% points from 18.0% to 9.4%. This is common when players get older and deep fly balls that would have been home runs a few years earlier turn into easy outs.
This is what concerns me the most.
An aging power hitter that can’t quite reach the same heights – especially after shoulder surgery – in a key position in the Nationals’ lineup that NEEDS a power hitter. This makes Jayson Werth the second player to watch on our list.
Next: Number 1