Back in 2011, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth agreed to a seven-year/$126 million deal to come play in the nation’s capital. At the time, it was considered a massive deal and many questioned whether Werth would be able to play up to that deal. In year one for the Washington Nationals, he didn’t.
In 2011, Werth hit just .232 and drove in only 58 runs. That wasn’t the production the Nationals envisioned to get from him. When Washington brought in the All-Star outfielder, they thought he and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman would be a dynamic duo in the middle of their order.
Werth’s inability to produce at an elite level made many believe that his deal was a bust. However, despite his rough 2011 campaign, Werth was more productive in 2012 when he was healthy.
Even though he played in just 58 games, Werth’s 2012 campaign was an improvement, compared to his 2011 one. Also, even though the Nationals’ World Series aspirations came up short, Werth hit a walk-off homer to remember in game four of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
After they were eliminated from the playoffs, the Nationals attempted to rejuvenate their roster in the offseason. They did so by trading for Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span and by signing veteran arm Dan Haren; the Nationals’ 2013 season was affected very little by their acquisitions, as the team failed to reach the playoffs. Werth, however, was a bright spot in a dark season.
After a slow first half, Werth went on a rampage in the second half of the year. By year’s end he hit .318, which was the highest average on the Nationals roster that year. Werth then carried his hot bat into the 2014 season.
While his batting average didn’t quite duplicate his 2013 clip, Werth was still very productive and more durable in 2014.
Hitting .292, driving in 82 runs for the second straight year and playing 18 more games than he did in 2013, Werth had a very good and efficient year at the plate. That said, 2015 wasn’t as nice to Werth.
In 2015, Werth missed nearly half the season, and wasn’t able to gain many positives at the plate. His .221 batting average was the lowest he’s hit since 2003, and to top it off, Werth recorded a negative WAR. It was arguably the most difficult year of his career given the injuries he dealt with, his struggles at the plate and the frustration of his team not meeting expectations. The 2016 season was a bizarre one for both himself and the Nationals, though.
A Bizarre 2016
By shattering expectations and running away with the NL East, the Nationals looked to be a power house team in the National League, but Werth wasn’t necessary a big reason for it. While injuries didn’t plague him like they have in years past, he wasn’t stellar at the plate. He hit just .244, but he did hit 21 homers, which is the most he’s hit since 2013; however, despite being a bit off at the plate in 2016, Werth was big in the Nationals’ postseason matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Although they ultimately lost, Werth was exceptional in the playoffs. He hit .389 and had a big home run in game three of the NLDS. His 2016 season was a bit odd, but he showed up when it mattered most.
Jayson Werth’s Time in D.C. has been a Success
Even though he’s struggled with injuries on and off in his Nationals tenure, Werth has been a big part of the Nationals’ success. With the exception of 2013, whenever Werth has been healthy for the majority of a season, the Nationals have been a playoff team. Some would argue that Werth’s on-and-off history with injuries make him an overall bad signing, but why is it? Six years ago the Nationals brought in Werth to help turn around their franchise, and he has done just that. While they’ve only made the playoffs three years in his tenure with them, those three times are the only three times in team history that they’ve made the playoffs.
While at first Werth’s contract appeared to be very pricey, he found a way to play through it. The fact that the 37-year-old outfielder is still a penciled in starter going into the final year of his seven-year deal is proof that he’s still a crucial bat in the Nationals’ lineup. Jayson Werth’s deal has looked good and horrific at times, but when you put it all together, the deal was a win win for both Werth and the Nationals.