By: Jeff Nelson
In a recent episode of Family Feud, 100 people were surveyed and asked “name something that gets better with age”. The number two answer was wine. The number one answer: Jayson Werth.
Unlike former teammate, Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth’s tenure in Philadelphia will probably go down as one of the most valuable free agent signings in franchise history. Give Pat Gillick credit for not giving up on this kid back in 2006 after he was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prior to signing his first deal with the Phillies, Werth had trouble staying healthy. And when he was healthy on the diamond he wasn’t producing enough. Once he arrived to Philadelphia however, and was eventually given a chance to be the everyday right fielder, he never looked back. Aside from Chase Utley, one could make a case Werth has been the most important hitter in this Phillies lineup since 2008.
For the third consecutive year Werth’s OPS+, wOBA and the amount of women who wanted to marry him were on the rise. He remained a prototypical middle of the order hitter for this team, giving Ryan Howard protection in a lefty saturated lineup. Despite hitting 9 fewer HRs in 2010 (36 in ’09 and 27 in ’10) Werth was actually able to raise his SLG from the previous year (.506 to .532). Werth was a doubles-machine in 2010, piling 20 more doubles onto his previous campaign for a total of 46, which led all RFs.
Werth’s kryptonite in 2010 was plain and simple, and for whatever reason he could not hit with RISP. There is no getting around it. He flat out stunk. In fact, I heard the best way to get Jayson Werth out last year was to put a runner on second. As most of you know, hitting with RISP is not a skill and for the most part it rarely fluctuates so drastically from a hitter’s career average the way Werth’s did in 2010. In other words, his paltry .186 AVG with RISP was merely a blip on the radar. I would bet my life savings Werth will hit much better next year with men on base.
Another knock on Werth from last year was his defense. Based on UZR/150, Werth was a minus 7.2 runs last year patrolling the OF. I don’t buy into defensive metrics as much as others do, especially if when not used during a three-year period. In my opinion, Werth was average last year at the very least.
Finally, in the NLCS, the only one who seemed to get a big hit or reach base was Jayson Werth. He was by far the Phillies most productive hitter against the eventual world champions. If Ruben Amaro Jr. can’t get creative enough and bring Werth back while keeping the budget intact, this lineup will take a significant blow. No one on the current roster can replace what he has done and I’m afraid no free agent can either.
This almost feels like a eulogy. It’s tough putting someone in perspective especially when you know they aren’t coming back. Good luck at your next stop, Jayson. You will be missed.
JEFF’S GRADE: 8.6/10
PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 7.9/10 – I can’t seem to get past the fact that he was so incredibly bad with runners on base. He had a fine season, but if he’d even hit a little bit with guys in scoring position, the offense would have looked a little stronger. He will be missed.
MICHAEL BAUMANN’S GRADE: 8.3/10 – Say what you will about The Slump, but Werth ted the team in games played, runs, XBH, doubles, slugging percentage, total bases, walks, and offensive WAR. All in all, an excellent swan song in red pinstripes for a one-time scrap heap pickup.
NICK STASKIN’S GRADE: 8.8/10 – Werth provided a five-tool ability that Philadelphia hasn’t seen in its outfield in years. While much was made of his numbers with RISP, look at how productive his year still was. Replacing that kind of production will not be easy if a miracle isn’t performed in the weeks to come.