Jayson Werth has patrolled the outfield for the Washington Nationals for the last seven years, but his contract has now expired. Here’s to thanking the man that transformed the franchise.
When Jayson Werth signed with the Washington Nationals prior to the 2011 season, he was heavily scrutinized. He left the Philadelphia Phillies, a recent World Series champion and perennial competitor, to join the Nationals, a team that had three consecutive 90+ loss seasons.
In the Nationals, Werth saw an up and coming team; a team that had the potential to overcome the juggernaut Phillies. Nobody else saw it, but he did.
2011, Werth’s first season with the Nationals, did not go as planned. Werth hit just .232, his worst season to date. However, he had already begun to transform the franchise. He gave it all he had everyday, instilling an attitude similar to his recent walk-up song, “2 Legit 2 Quit”.
In 2011, the Nats finished 80-81, their best record since 2005. They also finished third in the NL East for the first time since returning to DC; every other season ended in a last-place finish.
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Then, in 2012, Werth’s vision began to come to fruition. The Nats won 98 games and entered the postseason with the best record in the league. Werth’s .300 batting average led the Nats and suddenly, he and Mike Rizzo seemed like geniuses.
Despite his regular season success, his 2012 season is remembered for one swing in October. With the Nats facing elimination in game four of the National League Division Series, Werth worked a 13-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the ninth and crushed a walk-off homer, forcing a game five. To this day, this is arguably the best moment in franchise history.
From there, Werth never looked back until injuries and Father Time caught up with him. Although he was no longer the player he once was in his final few seasons with the Nats, he was still productive and remained the heart and soul of the team.
Werth has also endeared himself to countless Nats fans. While he is undoubtedly unorthodox, he is absolutely perfect in his own way. His signature beard, which started out as just a soul patch, has blossomed into a mountainous mane. But it is perfect.
Werth is one of the most genuine players on the Nats, if not in the league, illustrated by his hilarious NSFW interviews. As former teammate Mark DeRosa said, “He doesn’t care how he’s received.” He tells it like it is, and because of that, he is perfect.
While Werth may return to the Nats to serve a lesser role, his best days are behind him. He is no longer the MVP-caliber player that he once was. However, over the last seven years, he has completely transformed the Nationals from a perennial loser into a World Series contender.
It is certainly sad that our beloved “J-Dub” may have played his last game in a Curly W uniform, but he has given us so many fantastic memories. From his signature hair, to his unorthodox pop-up slides, to his NSFW interviews, to his legendary yet nonchalant bat flips, he is perfect.
The Nationals may not have won a World Series during Werth’s tenure, but he did so much for the team. He transformed the franchise and gave it an identity and for that, the Nationals franchise and the city of Washington, DC are forever indebted.
I believe I speak for the entire Nationals fanbase when I say, “Jayson, thank you for one heck of a ride these last seven years.”