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Werth soars as Espinosa plummets

Aug 24, 2011, 2:43 PM EDT

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Jayson Werth has quietly gotten hot over the last month.

Jayson Werth may or may not be in the Nationals' lineup tonight after straining his hip/groin area while tracking down a ball in right field during last night's game. The injury isn't considered serious, and even if he doesn't play, Werth figures to be back in action within a day or two.

Here's something you probably hadn't been thinking to yourself, though: Right now, the Nationals really need Werth in their lineup as much as possible.

I know, that would have sounded like a ludicrous statement not long ago. But it's true. Look at the numbers.

Remember when Werth's season seemed to be spiraling out of control, with no hope of being salvaged? That was back on July 18, when his batting average had plummeted to .211, his OPS to a paltry .669.

Well, in 30 games since then, Werth is hitting .295 with a .500 slugging percentage and .878 OPS. In other words, pretty much exactly what the Nationals figured he'd do for the entire season.

This one-month surge hasn't entirely salvaged what will forever be remembered as a colossally disappointing debut year for the $126 million right fielder. But it has at least eased some fears aboutRead more ยป

  1. DCGuy7 - Aug 24, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    has Danny been hitting LH more since the break than before it? just curious.

  2. Harper_ROY_2012 - Aug 24, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    A positive uptick for Werthless. any thoughts about moving him in the lineup for 2012 either to 2nd or 6th?

  3. Dawn - Aug 24, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Danny needs a day off. Put Cora in there, he deserves a start and a few back-to-back at-bats.

  4. Statsguy - Aug 24, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    FWIW- the minor league equivalency calculator guessed Espinosa's slash with the Nats as .204/.261/.347-not that far off. Before the apologists get upset, it also called Harper's AA line at .270/.352/.445. Danny is what the scouts have always pegged him as-great defense with not much pop. He's doing a super job so maybe it's time to stop worrying about why he isn't performing way above his ability.

  5. SCNatsFan - Aug 24, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Statsguy, I disagree he is doing a super job; in fact for most of the second half of the season he's been an easy out but played solid defensively. You can argue that we brought him up too soon and that he should be getting polished in the minors, you can argue that he is better suited to learn at the major league level but you can't argue that unless he improves and learns to shorten his swing and make better contact that he'll never be the special player we all hope he will grow in to.

  6. Steve M. - Aug 24, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… So in the words of Steve M… bring on Coco Crisp for the leadoff spot, get me Mark Buerhle to be the solid veteran and I'll take my chances on a run at both Philly and Atlanta. August 24, 2011 11:16 AM sjm308 said… Need to know who Steve M's agent is and if he has contacted the Lerners about that assist. GM spot. Just for Buerhle and Crisp alone. I would be fine with others in CF but Buerhle would just put me over the top for next year. Can't imagine what that staff would be like!! August 24, 2011 11:21 AM Thanks guys. I have been spreading the gospel! Hoping it has made it to someone who counts! I am thinking Crisp will be affordable and fit nicely with Rizzo's plan of athletic players who can play defense and his clutch stats and stolen bases make up for his lack of huge OBP at .330 but he makes up for it with his intangibles and still a huge step up from what the Nats currently have.The Nats still lack a #2 hitter and like I wrote before I see Werth in the #2 so Crisp, Werth, Zim, Morse, LaRoche, Espi, Desi, Ramos which is better than any lineup the Nats have had all season. Werth is a high OBP guy so Zim and Morse should have plenty of RBI opportunities.On Buehrle, the only way the Nats get him would be to get him quick while the big boys are concentrating on the few top of the rotation guys.Even yesterday's game showed you how good this team is as they had great pitching and many chances and most games you win where your opponent only scores 2 runs. Last night ended in a loss because hitting with RISP was 0-7 last night so the Nats had their opportunities!

  7. Steve M. - Aug 24, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    SCNatsFan, I think Espinosa has to change his LH approach like his RH swing. Compact and quick to the ball. Guys like Espi and Bernadina that want to hit HRs get a few hilights with game winners but are missing the bigger picture in that the Nats don't need them to be HR hitters as much as they need to be .340+ OBP guys with .270 BAs.If Espinosa didn't have his 16 HBP his OBP would be .283 so lucky on that stat or his #'s would look much worse.

  8. Analytical Nat - Aug 24, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Everyone and me included would like to think the offense will be better next season and probably will. It's not as bad as it could be, but could be miles better of course. Without picking up a lead-off hitter next season, and say the offense is on par with this season say through the first two months in 2012, what do you swavy baseball folks say should be done then?

  9. Steve M. - Aug 24, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Analytical Nat, leadoff hitters with high OBP that can play defense and have speed are tough to get. Fortunately, one will be available through Free Agency in Coco Crisp who is also a switch hitter and steals bases although his OBP isn't super high (.330) he steals so many bases he is basically an on-base double when he hits a single and a huge upgrade from the current situation.The Nats could take him or trade for someone which will cost them in prospects. I always like the FA route as it will cost compensatory Draft Pick(s) and not a deep pull from your existing farm system.After next season there will be some other options like Michael Bourn could be a Free Agent and we will know more about new Draftee Brian Goodwin and Komatsu, Eury Perez, etc.There will always be -ifs- as LaRoche needs to come back healthy and you hope the off-season will get Werth, Espi and Desi back more productive.A better lineup generally makes everyone in it look better anyway as everyone gets a little more "hitterish".We will still have Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon lurking in the Minors so the home grown talent is already improving.

  10. NatStat - Aug 24, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    I have faith in Espi to continue to learn what he needs to learn to be a successful hitter. He's grinding it out, and this year will form the basis for better years to come.

  11. Anonymous - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    Danny is a good utility player-backup at this level. His left handed swing has a really slow trigger. He's still pulling the bat back to load up that home run swing when the ball is halfway there. I agree that the HR's are not worth a .220 avg. he needs to study some Rod Carew and tony Gwynn tapes and reinvent himself as a singles hitter.

  12. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    Man… I just went to the WaPo and read Boz's column on Strasburg…. Then I read through the comments….. my eyes hurt! That was painfull.We are truly blessed to have this site.

  13. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    NatsJack, spot on!

  14. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Anon @1:04, there is only 1 Rod Carew and 1 Tony Gwynn and Danny can watch them on film which is great. Imitating them in game action won't happen. Danny is Danny and needs to make small adjustments that fit Danny Espinosa. If he can't make the changes and adjustments like he did early in the season he won't keep a spot on the team as there is no designated 2nd baseman on defense any more. I hold out hope that at least the clutch 1st half Danny Espinosa can find himself again.

  15. A DC Wonk - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    … and despite all this, Espi is still fifth on the team in WAR

  16. UNTERP.NAT - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    A DC Wonk said… … and despite all this, Espi is still fifth on the team in WARWAR? What is WAR? What is it good for?

  17. sm13 - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Coco Crisp? You have to be kidding. I'd rather give Bernie another shot or Corey Brown. Journeyman vets should be role players (like Cora, Hairston and Gomes) not regulars. This club needs to be pointed towards the future no mediocre stopgap solutions

  18. Anonymous - Aug 24, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    DC Wonk, he was 3rd before the All Star break. I don't know if that is good to be 5th or an indictment of how bad the next 3 under him are.

  19. baseballswami - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Nats Jack in Florida — I hear you. I truly like AK's writing over at wapo, but the people who post there are ignorant and mean.I know sometimes we get a little carried away with our passions here, and there are some ( mostly anons) who like to insult others, but for the most part the folks here are pretty smart about baseball, back up their theories and discuss appropriately. THANKS fellow posters. I will go back to disagreeing with you tomorrow.

  20. jd - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Espinosa's WAR for the year is 2.9; just as a comparison Morse is 2.8. So for those saying that he's nothing but a utility player; you don't have a clue.

  21. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    sm13, Crisp is having a career year in stolen bases and leading the league with 37. Coco is a 140 game type of player again in Oakland. I wouldn't consider that a role player. Coco is better than who we have seen roaming CF here for a while. I think we are all talking the same thing that he is a stop-gap to a better replacement. Sign him for 2 years.I would take him all day long over Justin Upton and he comes via Free Agency hence you do not have to trade key pieces for him.The other choice is sticking with Bernadina who is a .260 hitter with .310 OBP and not clutch. Bernadina is out of options next year and can be a good bench role player.

  22. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    And Crisp is just a place holder for 2 seasons at the most.And Pay To Play… I think you meant B. J. Upton 'cause I'd love Justin Upton.

  23. Wally - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Man… I just went to the WaPo and read Boz's column on Strasburg…. Then I read through the comments….. my eyes hurt! That was painfull. We are truly blessed to have this site.I haven't read the comments section at WaPo in over a year, I think. I still go for articles, more often than not, and follow Kilgore Trout on Twitter (he is actually a lot more unreserved there). I don't even bother going to MASN any more. It just seems so sanitized these days, but maybe I am being unfair.Nats Insider, nationals Baseball, NAtionals Prospects, Nationals Arm Race, DC is for Baseball – lots of good sites these days.

  24. Anonymous - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Kilgore Trout . His parents actually name him after a Kurt Vonnegut character, shame on them.

  25. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Wally… yes… I had not read any WaPo comments in about a year myself but figured maybe, since it was Boz and he's turned all Natty on us lately instead of Birdland, just maybe the commenters baseball mentality had improved… WRONG……oh well… maybe next year this time.

  26. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    Natsjack, thanks for the correct on the BJ from Justin. Big name mix there! I also said it, sign Crisp for 2 year. I think Coco is a NL East type of guy. Kind of 2009 Nyjer with better on-base discipline and a stronger arm plus he is a switch hitter.

  27. Steve M. - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Crisp is a stop gap for sure given the Nats pipline and Crisp's age. Currently has 115 hits, 36 walks and 1 HBP. Crisp has had 34 assorted XBH this year and 81 singles. With 37 SBs, he has basically put himself in scoring position 64 times (5 were HRs) as 7 of his steals were of 3rd base.Contrast that with Michael Morse with 126 hits and 51 XBH and 2 SBs and 75 singles. The same math says Michael has been in scoring position 53 times. Since he is a HR hitter the numbers aren't apples to apples as Crisp's job is to get on base and in scoring position. You don't have to sacrifice Crisp and give up an out. He is creating an enormous amount of RISP potential. Crisp has never played in the National League where his type of play seems to lend itself better to.His slash with 2 outs and RISP this year he is .292/.346 He also turns on to another gear when his team is 1 run behind. He has stolen 24 of his 37 bases in those situations and hit 20 of his 38 RBIs in those situations.

  28. sunderland - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Plus his name is Coco. That alone has to be worth 1.3 WAR.

  29. jd - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    For now I would take Bernadina over Nix any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  30. Steve M. - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    P2P, I was just saying that also about Crisp and playing in the NL. Atlanta has Bourn, the Mets have Reyes, Phillie at one time had that prototype in Jimmy Rollins. Nyjer in 2009 was that type of player.I think many will have the same reaction as sm13 does. Journeyman old man. Crisp has really put on the speed game this year. His OBP has slipped some but he is on a 135-140 pace and can bridge the gap through 2013 until the CF of the future here emerges.

  31. A DC Wonk - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    jd said… Espinosa's WAR for the year is 2.9; just as a comparison Morse is 2.8. So for those saying that he's nothing but a utility player; you don't have a clue.Huh . . . baseball-reference has different numbers:Here is their top six (there's a big dropoff after six) — the columns are: Offensive WAR, defensive WAR, and total WAR.One thing that surprises me is that Espi's defensive WAR is lower than Werth and Ramos (!) Another surprising thing to me is how absurdly high Ankiel's def WAR is compared to everybody else.Michael Morse 3.3 -0.6 2.7Ryan Zimmerman 2.1 -0.1 2Jayson Werth 1.3 0.5 1.8Rick Ankiel* 0.5 1.1 1.6Danny Espinosa# 1.3 0.3 1.6Wilson Ramos 1.2 0.4 1.6==============UNTERP.NAT said… A DC Wonk said… … and despite all this, Espi is still fifth on the team in WAR WAR? What is WAR? What is it good for?See, NatsLady, it wasn't just me! ;-)Or, Unterp, was yours a serious question?

  32. A DC Wonk - Aug 24, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    sunderland said… Plus his name is Coco. That alone has to be worth 1.3 WAR.Has anybody else been a fan for long enough that the first thing you think of when you mix baseball and Coco is — the Expos own Coco Laboy!I remember watching on TV, the Expos stadium announcer _loved_ that name.He was runner up for '69 Rookie of the YearHad a bad follow up year, and then injuries cut his career fairly short.But he had a great year in '69 and was a fan favorite, if my brain cells are remembering correctly.

  33. jd - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    DC Wonk, I prefer Fangraphs whose defensive metrics seem much more realistic and also includes base running. BTW Fangraphs has Ankiel at 1.1 overall which is much more realistic. Also, someone said that Espinosa doesn't have much pop. 18 home runs – excuse me.

  34. baseballswami - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    jd – agreed about Bernie. I think we miss his energy at the top of the order and in the outfield. Also – we don't steal bases very much, do we?

  35. A DC Wonk - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    jd said… DC Wonk, I prefer Fangraphs whose defensive metrics seem much more realistic and also includes base running.You have some good points. Indeed, according to Fangraphs, Epsi is tied with Ankiel at second (only behind LaRoche) for fielding, which makes more sense to me.OK — so for those playing at home, here are the WAR values according to fangraphs of the top seven:Danny Espinosa 2.9Michael Morse 2.8Ryan Zimmerman 2.2Jayson Werth 1.9Wilson Ramos 1.9Rick Ankiel 1.1Ian Desmond 0.7

  36. fpcsteve - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    I think the decrease in base stealing is a product of DJ's approach to game management (i.e., power and not giving away outs or even running that risk). In reading the posts today, I see what I think has been a recurring theme for awhile: a prejudice for younger players no matter what. It seems to me that production should make the case for playing time. Consider Hariston and Bixler. Hariston is older but was clearly the better player. I think Steve M. is right. Crisp is a stop-gap measure until the reinforcements from the farm system start showing up. In the short run it won't hurt to sign him and play him. He solves a problem.

  37. jd - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    Steve M. I have no arguments against Crisp. I don't know what his availability and price will be but one way or another we have to address the CF and leadoff issue because we hope to have a lineup next year which does not include Nix and Ankiel as everyday players.

  38. gonatsgo - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    Was just reading about bjupton being on waivers. I vote no ( not that I get a vote). Do we really need another light hitting outfielder?(.205, by the way).

  39. jd - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    A DC WONK, If you were to include pitchers in your list Zimmermann would lead the list at 3.6, Livo is 1.8 and Lannan is 1.1 (Marquis is 1t 1.5).

  40. jd - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    gonatsgo, This is if you believe that BJ Upton is really a .205 hitter. His lifetime average is .265 he was 4.5 WAR in 2007 and 3.9 WAR in 2010. a 4 WAR player is worth about $15 mil a year on the open market. At 27 year old he's hardly washed up so I wouldn't exactly put him in the Laynce Nix category.

  41. MicheleS - Aug 24, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    NatsJack/Swammi…100% Agree on being thankful for this site! Occasionally things get testing (and I think for the most part it's because humor/sarcasm are hard to detect when typing). I read WaPo, but never look at comments.. People are vile over there.BJ Upton on waivers… Unless we only have to trade a bucket of balls at this point… The Rays will try to fleece us for him!

  42. Unkyd - Aug 24, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    My only beef with Davey, is the lack of aggression on the basepaths. We have a lot of speed, and I believe that it's foolish, to not make use of all your tools. Give the pitcher and the rest of the defense as many distractions as possible. In football, if you run the ball well, but can't move it through the air. A good defense won't let you run it either, as they'll just key on the runner. Same principle…. Why would you leave bunting for a hit, hit and run, steal, double steal… all in the tool box, of a team that often has trouble scoring? Not calling it dumb… just don't understand it…

  43. Harper_ROY_2012 - Aug 24, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Espinosa is who we thought he was, a defensive specialist who should be a role model for the rest of the infield!as for his offense, he will be a 20HR 20 double and 20 SB guy for years to come whatever his average is. I see him like Cano, he will bat 7th and then slowly work his way into the heart of the order.

  44. sjm308 - Aug 24, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Unkyd – agree that Davey has stopped our running game a bunch and also don't understand that since we have several players who run well.Agree with the many posters on the Post – Adam writes well and I also used to try and read the comments but it became tedious – This is my go to site and really appreciate the tone here. Not too snarky, especially when you learn to scroll past the anons.off to the stadium!!go nats

  45. natsfan1a - Aug 24, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    Just wanted to say, "good on ya, Jayson!"Re. the Journal, yeah, I still read AK's posts but find the new comment system cumbersome and rarely read or comment there these days. There were a number of commenters there whose thoughts I always enjoyed reading, and I'm sure there are still a number of interesting and civil commenters, but the troll(s) I could do without.

  46. natsfan1a - Aug 24, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    btw, it's always nice to recognize a familiar moniker from the Journal over here.

  47. Anonymous - Aug 24, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Watch a highlight of Espinosa from last year,his swing and stance was dramatically different

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