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Posted at 12:21 PM ET, 07/25/2011

Jayson Werth’s uphill climb


The Nats top free agent acquisition has failed to live up to the expectations set by his hefty contract. (Toni L. Sandys - WASHINGTON POST)
Jayson Werth is in an unenviable position (at least on the field, a $126 million contract is very enviable). Even if he goes on a tear over the next 2-plus months of the season to return to his career averages or at least close to them, fans won’t realize his full body of work until it’s over and then still won’t be able to forget his four months of futility.

Werth, along with others looked like he was going to break out early in the season, but a hot streak never really materialized. Maybe his recent play after the All-Star break is a sign of good things to come. His first 27 at-bats produced a .819 OPS which isn’t far off his career average (though that includes this season and still not as good as his past three seasons).

What will it take for Werth to pump his numbers up to his career averages? Let’s say he gets 200 more plate appearances this season. To reach his career rate of a home run of every 20 plate appearances, he’ll have to hit 18 more home runs the rest of the season. Over 200 at-bats that’s almost one every 11 plate appearances. That would bring him to 29 home runs on the season, which would be a good total number and nothing that a streaky week or two can get him closer to, but it will definitely be an uphill climb.

To get to his career average .361 on-base percentage, Werth will have to produce an eye-popping .438 OBP over his next 200 plate appearances. One player has an OBP that high so far this season, Jose Bautista, so Werth would have to transform roughly into an MVP candidate over the next two months just to get to his career averages.

If instead he just played at the same level that produced those career averages he would hit 21 home runs on the season and finish with a .336 OBP, which would be just a mediocre season.

The number that gets the most focus though is Werth’s batting average. Before Saturday’s game, he had pushed the needle all the way to .218. To get to his career average of .265 by the end of the season, assuming 175 more at-bats, he’ll need to hit .360 and get 63 more hits. That’s 14 fewer than he already has over the course of the season. If he just hits .265 over the next two months, he’ll finish with a .234 batting average. Nobody is going to be satisfied with that.

It’s an uphill climb and the funny thing is, whether it’s fair or not, the production Werth needs to get back to his career averages this season is close to what fans expect to get for a $126 million contract.

By Ryan Korby  |  12:21 PM ET, 07/25/2011

Tags:  Nationals, Ryan Korby

 
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