Hi all! Long time commenter, first time Fanposter. Anyway, not to perseverate on the past, but I was looking at Jayson Werth's splits for last year on Baseball Reference, and I noticed some pretty astonishing things that indicate, to me, that his approach was way off last year. While watching the games, and observing him in real-time, I thought Werth's problem was that he always put himself in the hole 0-1 by not swinging at the first pitch, giving up count leverage, and leading to him seeing more "pitcher's" pitches. What I was surprised to find out was that, even when he was ahead in the count, Werth struggled mightily.In 2010, after getting the count to 2-0, Werth hit .342 with a slugging percentage of .658. His career totals before 2011 had been .297 and .594 respectively, so he was due for a little regression. But his career numbers couldn't have predicted regression like we saw in 2011. Last year, after getting the count 2-0, Jayson hit .176, with a slugging percentage of .235. .235!!!! To put that in perspective, after falling behind 0-2 last year, Werth hit .173, with a slugging percentage of .252. He actually was slightly better after falling deep in the hole than when he was way ahead.
So why did this happen? I have a couple of theories. First of all, lineup protection. I know sabermetricians say that lineup protection has a negligible effect on individual production (and please, correct me if a am misunderstanding sabermetricians; I very well might be), but if a pitcher falls behind on a hitter 2-0, that pitcher is less likely to give the batter something to hit if he isn't worried about the batter who hits behind him. To put that in less nonsensical terms, Jayson Werth likely saw better pitches 2-0 in the deeper lineup of the Phillies that he did in the Nats lineup, for which in April and May, Werth was the centerpiece. Another theory is that Werth took a flawed approach to the plate last year, never looking to "attack" when he was ahead in the count. Unfortunately, I don't had the data (or the psychological evaluation of Jayson Werth's mind) to back up these assertions. All I can say is, if the Nats lineup improves through maturation, and Jayson Werth takes a good hard look at his game film, I think we will see a very different Werth in 2012, one closer to the $126 million man the Nats paid for.