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Werth heating up at familiar time

Jul 14, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Jayson Werth capped off his 2014 first half with another solid game on Sunday, a four-RBI performance in the Nationals’ 10-3 win over the Phillies. Werth notched two hits and a walk, and blasted his 12th home run of the season.

The veteran’s recent surge is coming at a great time for the Nats, as their division race with the Atlanta Braves should begin to heat up very soon. It is also occurring at a familiar point for Werth.

Over the course of his career – and especially since he signed with Washington – Werth has made significant improvements over the course of each season.

Check out his first half/second half splits in 12 MLB seasons:

1st half: .264 BA, .353 OBP, .453 SLG, ,806 OPS (638 games)
2nd half: .284 BA, .381 OBP, .482 SLG, .863 OPS (587 games)

As you see, his batting average is a full .20 points higher and his OPS is .57 points better in games played after the All-Star break. While in Washington, the difference for Werth has been even more extreme. Early season injuries have played a role in the split, but Werth has been a completely different player for the Nats particularly in August and September.

Look at Werth’s first half/second half batting averages while in Washington:

2011 – 1st half: .215 | 2nd half: .255
2012 – 1st half: .276 | 2nd half: .312
2013 – 1st half: .297 | 2nd half: .339

If you then combine his first half and second half numbers since he signed with Washington, they look like this:

2011-13 1st half: 166-for-656 = .253 average
2011-13 2nd half: 201-for-667 = .301 average

Werth had his sixth multi-hit game in 11 July outings on Sunday and hit his fourth home run in the last five games. Whether it was simply a coincidence or not, Werth’s turnaround came right when Bryce Harper returned on June 30. Once the Nationals got healthy, Werth took off.

It hasn’t only been Werth on the Nationals who has been hot of late. The veteran’s resurgence has been paralleled by improvement up and down Washington’s lineup.

After scoring 10 runs to beat the Phillies on Sunday, the Nats now have 56 total in 11 games this month. That breaks out to an average of more than five runs per game. No NL team has scored more per contest so far in July.

Werth has been a big part of the Nationals’ offensive surge and he could just be heating up. Last year he exploded after the All-Star break to bat .339 with 15 home runs. 15 doubles, 46 runs and 49 RBI in 65 games. He ended up with arguably the best year of his career and placed 13th in NL MVP voting.

How Werth – and the Nats – will fare over the final half of the season is largely contingent on health, but the foundation appears to be laid for a strong second act for the Nationals outfielder.

 

  1. 3on2out - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Those 2011 numbers serve as a reminder to me how little I understand about this game and how fortunes change. It felt like Jayson either struck out or grounded into a DP that year . I thought that $127M contract would haunt the franchise for many years. In Game 4 of the NLDS I felt liked he earned every one of those dollars with one particular 13-pitch at bat.

    • adcwonk - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      Nice comments.

      I think this shows that not only is it a long season — but that signings and trades can’t be evaluated even after a full year. It’s hard, sometimes, but one must really be able to have a long term perspective when evaluating the various moves that the front office makes, etc.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        +1

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      I would add to this how Jayson was also brought here as a change agent to reset the team culture from loser to winner. It was no wonder he struggled in his 1st half of 2011.

      Stats are tangible, attitudes aren’t but anyone who has closely followed the team can tell the difference.

  2. coollikelivo - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    “Werth-It” !!!!!

  3. rayvil01 - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    He really likes band box parks like Baltimore and Philly. Seems to have the right stroke for those fences. Nats Park is bigger. Less homers.

    He is a key to success. When he is hot we win.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:47 AM

      Who doesn’t like playing in those parks? But he did start to heat up at Nationals park. Hopefully he can continue his hot streak at home as well.

      Agree about that one at bat being worth the contract. That is still the most epic at bat I have seen.

      • Candide - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        Who doesn’t like playing in those parks?

        Pitchers.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        Haha, you got me there.

  4. sjberke - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    Folks, if you want a good laugh, or what in more sophisticated circles is known as schadenfreude, you can tune in to Philadelphia’s public radio station WHYY (90.9 FM in the listening area or http://www.whyy.org/91FM/live.php to listen online) when the daily Marty Moss-Coane show will devote an hour to ‘What’s Up WIth the Phillies?’

    • sjberke - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:54 AM

      Forgot to mention, that’s at 11 AM Eastern.

    • ArVAFan - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:59 AM

      Maybe they should change “up” to “down”? Truth in advertising and all that.

    • ehay2k - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:19 AM

      A full hour? Seems a waste. Let’s help them spend the hour on something else. In no particular order, here’s what’s up with the Phillies:

      Their payroll.

      Their ages.

      Their PA/Hit ratio.

      Their team ERA.

      Their Denials (Especially J. Ro)

      Their patience with Dominic Brown. (Sadly, he’s not exactly blocking anyone in the minors.)

      The number of unsold tickets at the ballpark.

      Their fans’ interest in the Eagles and Flyers.

      The likelihood that they cannot dump any overpaid, underperforming players with multiple contract years left.

      Sadly, the belief that Utley, based on this year’s performance, is worth his contract.

      Lastly, the probability that they won’t sniff the playoffs for a long while, given their talent relative to the rest of the division.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      I wonder how much they will sell off at the trade deadline. They have some good short-term pieces to offer.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        I wonder if they need to get rid of Amaro first. They have been in need of a rebuild for a couple of years, and he just doesn’t seem to be capable of it.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        Hiram, the disaster that is now the Phillies is almost entirely on Ruben Amaro. In my opinion that guy is the worst GM in all of MLB, if not in all of major pro sports. He has run that club into the ground with stupid long term contracts of aging players and trading the farm for damaged goods.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      Listened to that – thanks.

      While they didn’t slight Amaro for his share of the blame, the 2 reporters also pointed the finger at Phillies ownership, who stay out of the limelight and let Amaro take the heat, but probably also played a role in these poor personnel decisions–or rather, poor decisions that made certain personnel very rich.

  5. Hiram Hover - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    Very happy to see Werth heating up, esp. in time to stick it to the Philthies Phaithful.

    Also wanted to add, since we don’t have a wrap up on yesterday’s game – way to go, Tanner!

    • adcwonk - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      He came out of nowhere, and he’s not a flamethrower — but perhaps Roark is a gem that’s staring us right in the face.

      His ERA this year is 3.01 over 18 starts. That’s something. In fact it’s ahead of JZ, and within 0.20 of guys like Tim Hudson, Cole Hamels, etc. WHIP is probably a better stat: he’s 10in the the NL. His stats are just a bit better than JZ, Strasburg, and Gio.

      Also worth mentioning: he was pitching, yesterady, on 8 days rest, which has got to have messed up his rhythm a bit.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      On -topic, I was thrilled the day that the Nationals signed Jayson Werth, and have said more than once that the signings of Mike Rizzo as GM, Jayson Werth as a free agent, and Davey Johnson as manager were the three signings that changed this franchise from accepting a loser’s mentality to that of expectations of winning. Jayson brought so much more to this club than personal statistics, he brought the attitude that losing is not an acceptable option. Looking down the long road, by the time his contract is up the guy will have made enough money that he’ll never need to work again, but personally I hope that he stays involved with the Nats in a coaching or management position.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:45 AM

        I agree. I had a feeling good times were on their way when Werth went after Nyjer Morgan (which led to the Nats moving him).

        And hiring Davey as manager was key to building that solid foundation.

  6. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Werth/Bandbox Ballparks seems to me to be a coincidence. Werth doesn’t go up to the plate hunting HRs. More than anyone else on the team he seems to have the philosophy that, if he puts the bat on the ball, good things are likely to happen. When he returned from injury in 2012 he was not hitting for power — and he was leading off, which he says he hates — but he led the team by hitting for a high average, with a high OBP, and wearing out pitchers with high pitch counts.

    • adcwonk - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:35 AM

      In previous years he usually led the league, or was close, for most pitches per at bat.

      Is it my imagination, or is he swinging more at first pitches this year? I wonder how his pitches per at bat compares to prior years.

      Not complaining, just observing — after all, Werth can do whatever he wants since he’s obviously successful.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:42 AM

        Last coupla years, his swing rate on 1st pitches is up somewhat from his career norms, but still well below MLB average (from bbref):

        Career: 15.9%
        2013: 19.7%
        2014: 18.5%
        MLB avg: 27.5%

        Pitches per plate appearance, going the other way, slightly, but still better than the MLB norm:

        Career: 4.39
        2013: 4.23
        2014: 4.11
        MLB avg: 3.78

  7. rabbit433 - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Another thing UP with the Phillies…………the number of Nats fans showing up at their ball park!! The worm has turned.

    • adcwonk - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:35 AM

      +1 !

      • MicheleS - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM

        I know the crew that was sitting behind the Nats dugout yesterday. The guy with the beard is a hoot.

  8. TimDz - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    Off topic, but ouch….Poor MPHRod…

    The White Sox have released right-hander Henry Rodriguez, the team announced. Rodriguez just recently signed a minor league deal with the Sox but posted a 21.60 ERA, three strikeouts and a whopping eight walks over 1 2/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte. That lack of control has been the story of Rodriguez’s career, as the righty has recorded a 6.4 BB/9 over 150 1/3 Major League innings with the Marlins, Cubs, Nationals and A’s over six seasons in the Show, though his high-90′s fastball has helped him record 151 strikeouts. This is the second time Rodriguez has been released this season, as the Marlins already cut ties with him in June.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      There’s no explanation as to why Henry just kept getting worse. I remember when he first came here he was late to ST camp and came in with a stiff neck. Those two things were the excuse for his slow start. I have often wondered if he actually might have a disc,or nerve issue, causing him a physical reason for his problems. You could almost read the panic in his face at times when he was here. Poor guy.

    • Brookstoor - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      We may have squeezed all the “production” out if HRod. He could actually get guys out on occasion when he was with us.

      • adcwonk - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        More than “on occasion” — he was awesomely dominant and was the “go to guy” of our bullpen during our amazing start in 2012.

        By the middle of May he had nine saves. And while everybody remembers on of the most disastrous appearances ever (taking a three run lead and giving up that 2-out grand slam to Votto) — most seem to forget that just the night before, against those same reds, he came in the 9th to protect a one-run lead, and pitched a ridiculously dominating 10-pitch 3-strike-out inning for the save.

        (I might add, he started off 2011 well, too. In his first 20 appearances, he was 22 IP, 27 K’s, 1.64 ERA.

        And does anyone remember that 3-K 11-pitch inning against the Braves in late Sept that year — the batters were so intimidated that one of them decided to attempt a bunt, even though there were two strikes. I remember Charlie and Dave exclaiming “he gave up! he was helpless!”

        Very sad. Incredible raw talent — glimmers of dominating greatness — but, essentially, all unfulfilled potential except for a month or two during his career.

      • Section 222 - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Wonk, I was at that game. Now we all can relive H-Rod’s shiniest moment:

        http://m.mlb.com/video/v19647645/atlwsh-rodriguez-ks-the-side-in-the-seventh/?query=henry+rodriguez+braves+2011

        Rizzo was right to cut bait when he did though.

    • ehay2k - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      To quote MPHRod directly “I don’t have anything to prove.” Correctamundo. You have proven everything. That quote forever tarnished my opinion of him. How can a guy who strikes fear into the batter and the mascot with every pitch, claim that?

      So, amazing prowess in his arm, but not so much his head. That, ultimately, is where the problem lies.

  9. David Proctor - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    You know, it’s funny. I was reading some Philly sites last night and the reaction was amusing. Many of them lamenting that the Phillies chose to extend Howard instead of Werth. Remember when the baseball world mocked us for signing him? Amazing how nobody talks about how good he has truly been. But we know.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      +1.

      From 2011-14 (inclusive), Werth has produced 9.9 fWAR for the Nats.
      Over the same period, Howard has produced 0.7 fWAR for the Phils.

      It’s not quite as ridiculous a spread using bbref’s version of WAR (8.5 WAR vs. 2.9 for Howard) but still horrible for the Phils.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      There’s fine and (often? usually?) indiscernible line between locking-up talented players for the long-term and saddling your team with albatross-like contracts. As Nats fans discuss inking Messrs. Desmond, Zimmermann, Strasburg, and Harper to long-term deals (along with the already-signed Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth), the Phillies offer a cautionary tale.

      • adcwonk - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        +1

  10. David Proctor - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Off-topic, but after being swept by the Mets yesterday, the Marlins have fallen into 4th place. I told you it was just a matter of time.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      Give them some credit, they have hung in there without their Ace (Jose Fernandez) and an awful bullpen and an untimely injury to Christian Yelich to a point where the lack of depth cost them. Their starters get left in too long and they are showing the wear.

      They have one of the best young outfields in the Majors and plenty of stars in the making in the Minors. Don’t sleep on the Marlins. They swept the Rays and Mariners this year, a winning record against the Cardinals and Rockies, a 3-3 record against the Dodgers and 4 wins against the Barves.

      Overall, the Marlins are still 27-22 in their home park.

      Most likely they will be a seller at the trade deadline and weaken themselves further but for a while there they were in it and causing teams headaches.

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Me too. Without Fernandez, that pitching staff is bogus.

      Alvarez has had his moments but even he can be extremely inconsistent.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        Do you remember when some of the talking heads had them winning the NL East?

        I thought at the beginning season when Jose Fernandez was healthy that they could be a 2nd place contender behind the Nats.

        The surprise team to me is the Barves. They are hanging in there still with a bullpen held together by glue and paper clips and they have a poor clubhouse. I’m sure you heard Uggla got a team suspension for showing up an hour before game time.

  11. #4 - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Completely off topic but since it’s the all-star break, I thought I would ask a more general baseball question. I was watching Moneyball over the week-end and was reminded about the OBP revolution the Athletics thrust upon baseball in the early 2000’s. I am so used to focusing on that stat now that I forget its emphasis is a fairly recent development.

    One thing that struck me though in the movie is that all of Peter Brand’s (and all sabermetric) research about OBP etc. focused on the law of averages and the 162 game regular season. Has anyone ever looked to see whether the runs created formula and the WAR stats hold up as well in the post-season? I have always wondered whether productive outs in low scoring, high pressure games mean more than they do during the regular season. That was certainly the criticism people had of the A’s and their lack of post-season success.

    A side note – the Peter Brand character is modeled after Paul Depodesta. He’s local kid who played baseball at Episcopal High School. In fact three future GMs – Depodesta, Brian Cashman, and Josh Byrnes – all played high school baseball against each other in the DC area in the late 80’s.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Didn’t Brian Cashman go to Georgetown Prep?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        I think he is not saying that they all went to Episcopal.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        I realize that as he said they played against each other. That was something I didn’t know.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        I misread that too. I looked it up and you were right of course, Cashman did go to Georgetown and Byrnes to St. Albans.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        http://voices.washingtonpost.com/baseball-insider/2010/03/indians_new_gm_a_hoya_at_heart.html

        There’s another GM from DC! I didn’t realize that so many were educated in the Washington DC area.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM

        WOW that’s amazing.

      • micksback1 - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        he sure did, played for Coach Pete White

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        Georgetown Prep doesn’t take dummies either. Cashman went to the Yankees. Smart move. He has World Series rings!

        How many do the rest of them have combined? ;)

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      #4: Three things:

      — Now that you’ve seen (or rewatched) the movie, read the book — more and richer detail, additional arguments;
      — One point the movie failed to emphasize enough was that OBP, in an of itself, wasn’t the be-all, end-all stat; the key point was to find what’s undervalued and leverage that skill set; and
      — It’s not so much that Billy Beane’s ‘sh*t’ didn’t work in the post-season (although with higher-end pitching that was part of it), but that it doesn’t necessarily ‘work’ in short series.

      • #4 - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        Thanks, Eugene. I guess I’m just wondering if the SABR guys have even run their numbers in the aggregate for all the “short” series ever played to see if somehow their formulas aren’t as reliable in those situations. Right now all we have is people making conjecture.

        For instance I believe that if you take the RC numbers for a league, they typically add up to the total numbers of runs scored in that year. That’s why the stat is a reliable indicator of how valuable offensively a player is. Does that work in short series situations?

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        Exactly. It depends a good bit on what you mean by “reliable” or “work”. But in a short series — regardless of whether that series is in the playoffs or in the middle of a season — your likelihood of getting representative results will not be nearly as high as over a longer period. But that’s the same with more traditional stats like BA or ERA.

  12. unkyd59 - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    “…as their division race with the Atlanta Braves should begin to heat up very soon.”

    … Tied up, at the ASB….. Pretty hot right now, I’d say…?

  13. micksback1 - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Nats are in a good place, need to take advantage of it after break

  14. Doc - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    J. Werth—Professional Ballplayer!

    And as Billy Sharkespeare once wrote, “Beware of the Ides of March, and the Phillies’ Syndrome, aka long-term contracts.”

    Watching Zim barely throw over to 1B late in the game yesterday made me think of the folly of long-term deals. JDub’s is working out, but over the next 2 years he may be stopping the progress of some Nats’ prospects like Souza.

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