Washington Nationals Opinions: Three Bold Predictions for the Second Half

3 of 4

May 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Werth’s Impact Will Be Minimal

The Nationals lineup has been without several of its projected Opening Day starters for a large portion of the year. Rendon, Zimmermann, Werth – all have missed extensive time due to injury at one point or another during the year. Given all of this, it’s logical to think that once these players return, offensive output should increase.

In Jayson Werth’s case, though, I predict his impact to be minimal. In fact, his absence may ultimately be addition by subtraction.

Even before hitting the disabled list, Werth was already struggling at the plate, hitting a meager .208 to go along with an OPS of .581, with two homers in 27 games. When he returns, he’ll be recovering from a wrist injury in addition to the shoulder surgery that he underwent during the offseason, adding another obstacle to Werth’s road back to offensive effectiveness.

Meanwhile, Michael Taylor, Werth’s replacement, is finally starting to get settled in at the plate, hitting .246/.296/.375. Taylor also represents a significant upgrade on defense. Werth may have been a plus defender in his prime, but age and injury have sapped him of range and arm strength. The move to left field can only do so much to hide Werth’s growing deficiencies.

There is one thing that Werth provides that Taylor can’t, however: veteran leadership. His playoff experience, proponents argue, offer a value that can’t be measured in simple statistics.

That’s a fair point, but answer me this: how’d that strategy work out for you in the playoffs last year?

If you’ll recall, Werth, veteran leadership and all, vanished in the NLDS. In the four game series, he went 1-for-17 for a slash line of .058/.200/.059. Sure, that’s a small sample size, but if Werth is being counted on to be a leader, putting up those sort of numbers is unacceptable. All the intangibles in the world don’t matter if you don’t produce during crunch time.

Given Werth’s recent injuries, I predict that he won’t finish 2015 very strongly. And as hard is it may be, if that’s the case, Werth may be more valuable coming off the bench.

Next: Prediction Three: Playoff Potency?