So...Jayson Werth started his seven-year/$126M dollar contract with a .232/.330/.389 2011 season which was down from .296/.388/.532 in 2010, .268/.373/.506 in '09 and .273/.363/.498 in '08. The 32-year-old outfielder's ISO (SLG - AVG) dropped from .225, .238 and .236 in the three years before 2011 to .157 in his first year with Washington. wRC+? Down from 130, 133 and 147 to 102. His BABIP fell from .324, .304 and .352 from '08-2010 to a career worst .286 in 2011 and Werth ended the year with a +2.5 WAR down from +5.3, +5.0 and +5.2 in the previous three seasons with the Phillies. But he "changed the culture?"
Though he admitted that he may not have made the expected offensive contributions, Jayson Werth told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore he felt he'd helped to change the culture in the nation's capital in his first year as a National, "'... as far as feel-wise, comfort,'" Werth was quoted explaining, "'where we are now and where we’re going, the culture was the biggest step. The losing culture when I got here, it was thick in the air. That’s not here anymore. All that stuff, it’s gone. We got things going in the right direction. I think there’s a lot to be said about that.'"
C'mon, really? Changed the culture? Is that what the Nats paid for? Sort of. And it has changed. And Werth isn't the only one who's said so...
"You know what, he's really been unbelievable," Nats' closer Drew Storen told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy back in an early May interview. "[Werth's] kind of brought a fresh new attitude to the clubhouse," Storen said, "and it's a combination of things. It's guys like him, Matt Stairs and Alex Cora and all these veteran guys that come in and have solid, solid big league careers with winning experience."
"It's really changed the attitude," Storen continued, "It's not a 'Hey, we hope we go out and win tonight,' it's we expect to win and the kind of sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves, that's just not the attitude we're going to take this year and we're going to sit there and grind it out every day and that's kind of the big thing they've brought and it's really made things fun."
"He brings the winning attitude," Danny Espinosa said in May when asked during an interview on MLB Network Radio about the difference Werth had already made just over a month into the season, "A young guy like myself, Desmond, Drew Storen, we've never been on a team that's won. There's a lot of guys on this team that are young that have never been with a winning organization, so for him to bring an attitude from a winning organization to let everyone know that losing is not acceptable and just to win two or three in a row [isn't] good enough, he lets us know that it's not acceptable, and there's more that can be done so that we can do better."
"'He brings a winning attitude,'" Nats' 1B/OF Michael Morse told SI.com's Mel Antonen in an article entitled, "Nats exceeding expectations, but waiting for Werth to do his part." "'He may be off to a slow start,'" Morse said, but, "'... you'd never know it by watching him. He's a great guy to have around.'''
"I've always been a big fan of an underdog," Jayson Werth told reporters last December during his introductory press conference, "and I think the situation here in Washington is one that going forward we're going to put something together that I think the city and fans will come accustomed to love and come out and see us on a nightly basis." As the Washington Nationals celebrated on their way to a 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves with a crowd of over 37,000 in Nationals Park for the last home game of the season, Werth was still saying the same.
As Michael Morse told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore for an article entitled, "Nationals vs. Braves: Washington wins home finale, 3-0", Werth spoke to him after the Nats' slugger had hit his 29th HR and taken a curtain call the home crowd had demanded. Werth's message for his fellow outfielder, "'Get used to it... Because this place [is] going to be awesome. This is how it’s going to be the rest of the way.'"
Was Werth behind the change? Was the change the result of the work that was done to build this franchise up before Werth even arrived in the nation's capital? Have things really changed? With their second-best season since arriving in the nation's capital, the Nationals have seemingly taken the next step. But the steps that follow...the playoffs, sold-out crowds on a routine basis. Are the Nationals there yet? The culture in the clubhouse may have changed. The culture in NatsTown?