By Victor Filoromo
Insert your own favorite Jayson Werth money joke here. Go ahead; we’ll give you a second. Good? Alright.
While that may make you chuckle, fans in Washington are hardly laughing out loud when they have to take a look at Jayson Werth’s debut season with the Nationals. Maybe the only people snickering are in Philadelphia, a club that said good-bye to Werth to make room for All-Star Cliff Lee.
Now, here we stand on July 20th, with Werth hitting .212/.321/.352, and drawing the ire of anyone willing to associate themselves as a Nationals fan. (It’s much easier to do these days, with the club near .500.) Werth has just 15 multi-hit games, and has gone 0-for-5 seven times this season.
For comparison’s sake, Domonic Brown, Werth’s quasi-replacement in Philadelphia, already has 13 multi-hit games in 159 at-bats. Werth has 344 at-bats thus far. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.The seven-year, $126 million contract that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo gave Werth certainly stunned a lot of people when the news broke on that early December day. At the time it looked like a bad idea. Now, it looks even worse. Once more, the damage done:
Yes, that’s not a pretty sight for Nationals fans to look at. So, should we prepare the memorial service for Werth’s career? Well, no. Maybe the panic button doesn’t need to be pressed yet.
Werth posted a .352 BABIP in 2010, so he had a whole lot of luck going for him last year. This year’s .257 number is startling, but not shocking. It’s baseball. You get lucky one year, or one month, and you are unlucky the next year, or the next month.
His walk rate and strikeout rates are essentially mirror images of last season, so that’s more good news. He’s also seeing about the same pitches per plate appearance this year as he was last year (fourth in the Majors last year at 4.36, seventh this year at 4.25).
The bad news? Werth’s ISO (SLG-AVG) is just .140, which is well off his career average of .201. He simply isn’t driving the ball, with just 16 doubles and 10 home runs. Last year, Werth had 46 doubles and 27 home runs. Another bad sign is that 45.1% of his balls in play are grounders, with a career mark of 38.4%. Unfortunately for Werth, he’s killing worms, and not the baseball.
It’s hard to bury the guy. After all, he was an All-Star two short years ago. Rizzo gave him a deal that conjured up lofty expectations for the right-fielder. Now, he’s mired in a slump that many wonder if he’ll ever get out of.
The contract given to Werth put a lot of pressure on him, but Ryan Zimmerman is still the face of the franchise. His being out for much of the year due to injury probably didn’t help Werth’s mental state, with Werth feeling as if he was single-handedly in charge of carrying the team.
The good news is that this probably can’t go on forever. Werth will likely put together some decent years in Washington but he’ll have to take the good with the bad.
It would have been nice if the Nationals had seen that when they signed him.