For those of you that don't understand the title of this post (which should be everyone), it basically means who will produce more: Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham in 2010 or Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth in 2011? Personally, I hate the statistic of WAR (wins above replacement) because there is no such thing as 2.3 wins in a season and the replacement could be anyone, whether it is someone who could have around the same production or a player who is hitting .250 in AAA but you have no choice but to call him up because no one else can play the position. Also, there are so many factors to consider how many wins a player actually helped you gain that it is almost impossible to find the actual amount. Obviously, I can't predict what will happen to our new duo in '11, but I will try my best to compare the expected value of LaRoche and Werth to Dunn and Willingham in 2010.
The first thing I want to discuss here is how Jayson Werth's speed on the bases will be used, as it is going to be an important factor to his value in 2011. In 2008 and 2009, Werth stole 20 bases and another 13 in 2010. However, Werth only had 418 AB's in 2008 and about 560 in '09 and '10. The trend is that he has been stealing bases less and less even though his OBP has risen from .363 to .373 to .388. Now, given Werth's new contract, I suspect the Nationals will either a) try to maximize his dollar value by letting him have more steal attempts or b) pull a Zimmerman and not steal to reduce the risk of injury even though he has can steal 20 bases if given the chance. Or maybe Werth will continue his trend and steal about 10 bases this year. I would also expect about .280/25/100 numbers from Werth with his HR numbers down a bit but his doubles up due to the bigger home ballpark. His RBI's should also rise since he will no longer be stuck in the #5 hole with Howard and Utley driving in most of the runs.
One thing that is worrisome about Werth is his ability to produce in the clutch. His 2 outs with runners in scoring position in 2010 was .139, but .254 in 2009. The RBI totals showed, with 85 in '10 and 99 in '09. My guess is that the pressure of being a Phillie in '10 was getting to him, so I would say there is a better chance of seeing the '09 average RISP Werth than the '10 rally killer.
With LaRoche, I would expect his usual .265/25/90, or at least around that. One thing about LaRoche is that his numbers are about as easy to predict as Dunn's numbers were, which is certainly a good thing because it shows consistency.
Okay, now to the comparison...
DW = Dunn + Willingham 2010 LW = LaRoche + Werth (2010 numbers with -5 on HR's, -.005 on BA, -5 RBI)
Batting Average Home Runs RBI's Runs 2B OBP SB
DW: .263 62 159 139 55 .368 8
AW: .274 42 175 171 88 .354 11 (Werth = 10, LaRoche = 1)
Now, as you see, the results are fairly similar but it looks like LaRoche and Werth have the slight edge offensively. While they may have about 20 less HR's, they will probably have a .011 batting average boost, more RBI's, and way more doubles, but probably not runs(most of them for AW are due to Werth being on the Phillies). Also, I would have to admit that if Willingham were not hurt for a total of about 2.25 months in a season, the different duo's would probably have about the same offensive value. However, Willingham gets injured a lot so having LaRoche instead is another plus.
The thing that really makes LaRoche and Werth a better choice than Dunn and Willingham is defense. I would expect that with the change of the duo, Werth and LaRoche will save a combination of at least 20 runs, probably 25-30. We now replace Dunn, who could not get a pick for his life, with an at least average first baseman and a lumbering Willingham with an elite defensive fielder in Werth.
The last thing I wanted to mention about the swap is that we will see a new time period of the player's peaks in the season. Willingham and Dunn were better first half hitters last year (Willingham has always been a first half hitter), while Werth and LaRoche have traditionally been better second half hitters. This means that we will have to be patient for these new two. When LaRoche is hitting .250 in June and Werth is at .270, we cannot start thinking that Werth is a bust or LaRoche is aging. We have to wait for the results, and the management and front office should be smart enough to recognize that rather than start thinking of Chris Marrero filling in for LaRoche or putting Werth on the trade block.