Can Nationals' RF Jayson Werth Do It Again In 2014?

Jennifer Stewart

Washington Nationals' right fielder Jayson Werth tore up opposing pitchers in 2013, and set career marks in his 34-year-old season. Werth turns 35 next May, can he do it again in 2014? The Nats have to hope he can continue to contribute in the fourth year of his 7-year/$126M deal?

Jayson Werth finished his third season in Washington, D.C. with a .318/.398/.532 line, 24 doubles and 25 HRs in 129 games and 534 plate appearances over which the 34-year-old outfielder was worth +4.6 fWAR. In his 11th MLB season, the former Blue Jays, Dodgers and Phillies' outfielder posted his highest average and on-base percentage, tied his career high slugging percentage, and posted a career-best wOBA (.403) and wRC+ (160).

"His grandfather was Ducky Schofield who played I think 19 years in the big leagues. His uncle Dick Schofield, who I had the pleasure of playing with in the minor leagues with the Angels played 13 or 14 years in the big leagues." - Mike Rizzo on Werth in Dec, 2010

Werth's +4.6 fWAR was the third-highest of his career behind 2008 and 2010's +4.9 and 2009's +4.8. After a +2.3 fWAR season in the first year of his 7-year/$126M deal with Washington which saw the right fielder put up a disappointing .232/.330/.389 line with 26 doubles and 20 HRs in 150 games and 649 PAs, and a injury-shortened 2012 campaign in which he had a .300/.387/.440 line with 21 doubles and 5 HRs in 81 games and 344 PAs for the 2012 NL East Champions, Werth put together his best season in a Nationals uniform this year.

Amongst National League right fielders with at least 500 PAs in 2013, Werth (25) was 3rd in HRs behind the Braves' Justin Upton and the Giants' Hunter Pence (tied w/ 27 HRs) and the Reds' Jay Bruce (30 HRs). His .358 BABIP was the NL's second-best, behind only the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer (.382). Werth was 2nd in AVG, behind Cuddyer again (.331 AVG), 1st in OBP, 1st in SLG, 1st in wOBA, 1st in wRC+ and second in fWAR, tied with Gerardo Parra (+4.6) behind only Pence (+5.4 fWAR).

"His approach is outstanding. And since he came back from the latest little injury, every at bat is a quality at bat." - Davey Johnson on Jayson Werth

Werth, who suffered a broken left wrist in early May of his second season in D.C., and returned in August of 2012 to post a .312/.394/.441 line in 231 PAs over the final 54 games of the Nationals' run at the NL East crown, suffered a hamstring injury that cost him a month (May 2-June 4) early this season, but he returned and put together a stretch of 102 games and 425 plate appearances over which he had a .334/.421/.569 line. "He's made some adjustments," Davey Johnson told reporters in August. "He's in a better position. His approach is outstanding. And since he came back from the latest little injury, every at bat is a quality at bat."

Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, who gave Werth the big contract that shocked the baseball world in the winter of 2010, said he'd seen the outfielder hit like he did this season before. "I've seen it in the past," Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Bill Rohland in early September. "Not this up close and personal. We watched him and evaluated him very carefully when he was in the Philly system and when he was playing for the Phillies and he was a guy who always played well against us. But he's extremely locked in. He feels extremely good about himself and we're grateful that he's playing so well."

"We watched him and evaluated him very carefully when he was in the Philly system and when he was playing for the Phillies..." - Mike Rizzo on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. on Werth

Werth contributed to the Nats' late run at a postseason berth, but the defending NL East champs fell well short in the division, finishing 10.0 games behind the Atlanta Braves. The Nationals couldn't catch the Cincinnati Reds in the race for the second Wild Card spot either. So, can Werth do it all again? He's a late bloomer, of course, who didn't play regularly in the majors until he was 28 years old. But can we expect another season like Werth put together this year from the 35-year-old Werth in 2014?

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