Washington Nationals Editorial: Expectations For Jayson Werth In 2016


After a down year in 2015, what should the expectations be for Jayson Werth this season?

Lately, MLB Network has been running a series about who are the top ten players at each position. Last week, “the Shredder” had Max Scherzer as one of the top ten starting pitchers in the game. Last night, they took a look at who were the top left fielders in the game. The Shredder had Indians’ left fielder Michael Brantley as the best in the game

Jayson Werth ended up not being named on that list after being number two last offseason and it’s hard not to agree after Werth’s disappointing 2015 season. Werth played in just 88 games in 2015, which is the lowest amount of games he has played in a year since 2012. His season didn’t begin until April 13 against the Red Sox because of offseason shoulder surgery. One month later, Werth broke his wrist against the Padres when he hit by a pitch from Odrisamer Despaigne. He ended up being out until July 28.

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In those 88 games, Werth had a slash line of .221/.302/.384 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI’s. Despite a down season, Werth was still one of eight Washington Nationals who hit ten or more home runs and he was seventh in RBI’s. Plus, if you look at all of the left fielders in the National League, he was tied for ninth in home runs.

After back-to-back four win seasons in terms of WAR, Werth’s WAR in 2015 was -1.6. To put that in perspective, that was the lowest WAR of any player on the Nationals.

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To put it in perspective, the 36-year-old did have to change positions with Bryce Harper and he had a difficult time adjusting to left field. His defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs, in left field in 2015 was -10. The only player who had a worst total than that in baseball in left field was Hanley Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox (-19).

Werth, who will be 37 in May, still has two more years on his deal worth $42 million. He is still going to be the starting left fielder in 2016, but could some of his playing time be taken away from Michael Taylor? Even if that’s the case, Werth still has value to the Nationals because he is one of the leaders in that clubhouse and his signing in 2010 helped give the Nats credibility.

If you look at the ZIPS projections done by Dan Szymborski for 2016, Werth is projected to have a WAR of 0.6, which would tie his total from 2012. Health is a factor for Werth, but if he can stay healthy, he can be a player that can hit 15-20 home runs in left field and provide the offense the Nats need out of the middle of the order to go with Bryce Harper. He is not one of the best left fielders in the game anymore, but he can still be a productive piece for the Nats in 2016.