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Roster review: Jayson Werth

Oct 8, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 34

How acquired: Free agent, Dec. 2010

MLB service time: 10 years, 102 days

2013 salary+bonuses: $16 million

Contract status: Signed for $20 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015, $21 million in 2016, $21 million in 2017, free agent in 2018

2013 Stats: 129 G, 532 PA, 84 R, 147 H, 24 2B, 0 3B, 25 HR, 82 RBI, 10 SB, 60 BB, 101 SO, .318 AVG, .398 OBP, .532 SLG, .931 OPS, 1 E, -3.3 UZR, 4.6 WAR

Quotable:Even last year, I was dealing with some circumstances with the wrist. I think right before I did get injured, I was starting to get rolling and feel pretty good. But I would say ever since I came back from the DL [June 4], I’ve been feeling more like myself and I think the type of player that I knew I was. In the end, that’s what brought me to Washington.” — Jayson Werth

2013 analysis: It’s easy to forget now, but there were legitimate questions entering this season about Werth’s power stroke, or lack thereof. Though he hit .300 in 2012, Werth clubbed only five homers in 344 plate appearances (plus, obviously, one kind-of-important one in the NLDS). But a full year removed from his broken wrist, Werth entered 2013 feeling much more confident about his ability to drive the ball, and that confidence only grew as the season progressed.

A lingering hamstring injury cost Werth a month early. Once he got past that, he turned into arguably the most-productive offensive player in the National League. From June 15 through the end of the season, he hit .349 with a .437 on-base percentage, 20 homers and a 1.033 OPS.

One of the keys to Werth’s success: He found a balance between his usual work-the-count approach and a more-aggressive attack. He put the first pitch of an at-bat into play 43 times this year and hit .381 with six homers and a 1.229 OPS in those at-bats.

In the end, the only downside to Werth’s season was the hamstring injury and the games that cost him. If he stayed in the Nationals’ lineup all season, he would’ve been the NL’s top MVP candidate.

2014 outlook: The question that will hang over Werth next spring: Can he do this again, or was this season an outlier and impossible to duplicate, especially as he ages? The easy answer is that Werth can’t sustain this and inevitably will decline, but very little about this guy’s career has followed a typical path.

An admitted late-bloomer, Werth didn’t become an everyday big leaguer until his age 29 season. There’s still a lot of baseball left in him … if he can keep himself on the field. At this point, the biggest problem-areas are probably his legs, which were an on-and-off issue this year. If he can avoid those nagging strains, he should be OK.

It will also be interesting to see where the new manager decides to slot Werth in his lineup. Forced into the leadoff position out of necessity in 2012, Werth was supposed to bat second in 2013 but wound up hitting cleanup. He could conceivably wind up anywhere from second through fifth in the Nationals’ 2014 lineup.

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 8, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    I think there will be drop-off in his offensive numbers. I hope it is not as drastic as ALR’s from 2012 to 2013. His biggest concern should be staying on the field for 650+ PAs. Even with a lower slash line, he can accomplish more if he just stays on field for more than 155 games.

  2. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 8, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    I think another 550 PA year would be just fine. If this is a playoff team, I don’t want Werth’s legs worn out by September 15 (or earlier). I know he’s supposed to have low miles on his tires but there’s no point in stressing him out. This requires a better than average sub/fourth outfielder. Moore playing at his 2012 or 2013 post-callup level would be just fine, or DeJesus (or someone like him).

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    The Dodgers dodged a big bullet. Going with Kershaw on short rest almost backfired on them. Greinke would’ve had to pitch on the road vs Minor if it went to a Game 5. Just because it worked out doesn’t mean it was the right move. It was extremely risky and Kershaw might not have been effective on the short rest.

    Oh well, so glad the Braves lost.

    • jd - Oct 8, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      It was risky but I like the move. When you are winning 2 games to 1 and you have a chance to clinch at home you really want to go all out because in an elimination game the home team is inherently favorite.

      Now they look good with Greinke ready for game 1 on full rest and Kershaw ready for game 2 on full rest. The other thing that played into it was how badly Nolasco has been pitching.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Talking about Dodgers, former Dodgers catcher Jayson Werth played some 1st base for the Dodgers in the Minor Leagues. Keep an open mind on the roster formation.

    • letswin3 - Oct 8, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      Good thinkin, Ghost.

  5. natsfan1a - Oct 8, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    I thought the SI curse did ‘em in? Nah. :-)

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/kate-upton-joins-braves-b-j-justin-upton-142902755–mlb.html

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      Remember early in the season the whole Gattitude stupidity and all the chants of MVP in April for JUpton’s hot start. They were too cocky and never filled their holes which was CF and 2nd base. It bit them. Gattis playing LF cost them defensively as JUp shifted to RF and Heyward to CF and Elliot Johnson got 1 hit all series.

      Wren cost his team. Poor personnel moves. Bad Karma all around. They go into the off-season with lots of issues. Tim Hudson and McCann might bot be back. BJ Upton and Uggla were Mendoza stars.

      They once again over worked their bullpen and their starting rotation was spotty. Trouble in Atlanta.

      • Jw - Oct 8, 2013 at 10:59 AM

        They overworked their bullpen except for the one time they needed to. Kimbrel sat last night.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        Jw, come on, Carpenter has to be able to get Uribe out. Kimbrel was set for a 4 out save.

        The missed part of this was the effect of having Puig on 2nd base and the fact the Braves thought he could steal 3rd. He agitated Carpenter and McCann and you see in the replay Carpenter glance back at Puig prior to the fateful pitch to Uribe. You can’t under estimate the value of getting a player like Puig on base. It is an intangible you can’t measure but it exists.

        Span needs to watch Puig from the perspective of being an agitator.

      • Jw - Oct 8, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        Elimination game. Different rules apply. Kimbrel comes in for a 6 out save, Puig might never have been on in the first place.

        Torre/Girardi would have used Rivera for two innings in a situation like that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        Jw, that is 20/20 hindsight as Carpenter has to do his job and didn’t. No guarantee Kimbrel gets a successful 6 out save. Freddi says his plan was to bring in Kimbrel for 4 outs.

        The Braves blew their season in July by not making the proper deadline moves. Wren should take most of the blame. I said many times they were overrated and they wilted under the pressure in most key situations in this series. I’m very happy that they were exposed for what they were.

  6. rogieshan - Oct 8, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    With four years left on his contract, would the Nats consider moving Werth to 1st base at some point to ease the physical burden on his legs and protect their investment? Such a move would give Rizzo more options in adding another bat to the lineup, or open the door from within for either Brian Goodwin or Michael Taylor.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Considering I have written about this here for several weeks, YES. Werth started his career as a catcher and part-time 1st baseman. I think he would be a huge upgrade and allow Rizzo to get a good RF like Choo.

      • letswin3 - Oct 8, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        ZACKLY!!!!! You guys are on target here. And Choo is the perfect fit under that scenario. Keep harping on it guys, and I’ll keep supporting you. We have to find a way to package ALR in a trade….maybe with Span, or Moore and Span, or even Span, Moore and someone (??) out of the pen.

      • nats128 - Oct 8, 2013 at 7:13 PM

        Can I be a +3 or 4. Looks like alot of people like that idea. I agree with previous comments that its all for nothing if the Nats cant upgrade. I think Choo in RF and leadoff with Span batting 8th is a good idea.

    • OleNatsFan - Oct 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      Nats new manager plays into this. ALR would be a better player if he could lean over into the strike zone to see the ball better, and if he could place-hit grounders up the third base line to beat the shift. The first needs body armor, the second needs practice. Both require a manager who can motivate and players will follow.

  7. Another_Sam - Oct 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    The best predictor for tomorrow is today. I thnk JW will — IF he avoids injury — will again be a top tier offensive playyer in 2014. That injury disclaimer is the key, IMHO. I want a complete rest in the off season, and a slow, easy spring with no little nagging injury and I think we’ll see a top notch 2014 from him.

  8. bleacherbumerik - Oct 8, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Ghost-I really like the idea of Werth at 1B. I originally suggested they move Harper there, but this definitely makes more sense since he has played there before. I really hope the Nationals front office recognizes the need for another impact bat in this lineup, and I agree that Choo seems the most logical choice. Having 3 left-handed hitters at the top of the lineup would be pretty advantageous on most days.

  9. breakbad1 - Oct 8, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    I stayed up last night, praying the Braves would lose. It was wonderful to see them fall.

    Here’s a post from today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution..I LOVE it:

    Posted by RangeRover at 1:23 a.m. Oct. 8, 2013

    For three years I have told you how stupid this manager is. You saw it in full display this entire series.1. Allowing McCann, three times to start against 3 lefties while weakening your outfield with a catcher.2. Playing every outfielder out of position.3. Affecting his team’s psych by omitting the hustling Uggla while keeping the loafer, BJ Upton.4. Continuing to bat two guys at #1 & #2 that aren’t suited for this role.5. Never, NEVER, instructing that idiot of a game caller, McCann, to stop calling for risky breaking balls with guys throwing in the upper 90′s6. How can you NOT protect against the double play in the 8th with a one run lead?Al of you, and you know who you are, that have steadfastly defended this stupid, sedate, deer in the headlights manager, go take a look in the mirror and witness firsthand what perfectly exemplifies a stupid fan with a double-digit IQ.This was a winnable series that was lost by an idiotic manager. – See more at: http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/baseball/braves-blow-lead-eliminated-with-4-3-loss-to-dodge/nbH4T/#sthash.Kji1YuJN.dpuf

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