Jayson Werth followed up on a .154/.291/.286 June with just six hits in 49 July at bats before the All-Star break, and his.154/.267/.154 line in 14 games left him with a .215/.319/.362 slash, 16 doubles, 10 HR's and 11 stolen bases in 88 games and 382 plate appearances in the first-half of the first year of his 7-year deal with the Nats. After the first-half of the 2010 season in Philadelphia, the then-31-year-old Phillies' outfielder had hit 27 doubles and 13 HR's with five stolen bases and a .282/.367/.514 line in 84 games and 346 trips to the plate.
"I'm not worried about Jayson," Nats' Skipper Davey Johnson said, however, when asked if he thought the Nats' right fielder needed a break after he'd finished the first half of the 2011 schedule by going 1 for 10 with a walk, two K's and a game-ending double play in the Nationals' three-game series with the Rockies. "Jayson's going to be fine in the second-half," Johnson continued, "Some other guys are standing up, and I think everybody could use [a break]. I'm sure Jayson's going to come back smoking."
His teammates seem to believe the same. Danny Espinosa told ESPN 980's Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro last week that Werth's fellow Nats think he'll turn it around. "We all know Jayson's going to get out of this. Are his numbers going to be .280, .290 this year? Probably not, but if he has a good second-half, no one's saying that he can't get back up to .260, .270, because everyone knows he's capable of doing that. It's kind of been surprising I guess, in the sense that it started slow, but I talked to him and I said when I see him up to bat that's who I want up to bat."
Werth's former teammate in Philadelphia, Shane Victorino told MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling in an article entitled, "Shane Victorino thinks Jayson Werth will rebound", that he thought Werth would bounce back in the second-half. "'That was one thing we'd always see - he swung his way out of it,'" Victorino said in Mr. Goessling's report, "'Adding pressure to yourself because you're slumping, that's when it becomes tough.'"
The 9-year MLB veteran does have a slightly better second-half slash (.276/.376/.479 to .255/.348/.457 in the first-half) over the course of his career. Last year in Philly, Werth went from .282/.367/.514 in the first half to .312/.412/.554 after the Mid-Summer Classic, and it was much the same (though less dramatic an improvement) in each season since he started playing on regular basis with the Phillies. In '09 Werth had a .263/.371/.513 first-half followed by a .274/.375/.498 finish. In 2008, Werth compiled a .271/.357/.477 line and improved to .275/.370/.520 after the Break. In his first year in Philadelphia, when he struggled with injuries and played in just 42 first-half games, Werth went from .235/.333/.353 to .329/.438/.512.
There are reasons to believe Werth can straighten things out. There's also a significant drop in Werth's BABIP .352 in 2010 to .258, a drop in ISO (Isolated Power SLG-AVG) from .238 in '09, .236 in '10 to .147 so far this season, a continued rise in his GB% (35.9 to 37.0 to 45.3) over the last three years with a drop in FB% from 44.4% in '09, 45.4% in 2010 to 38.7% in his first season in D.C. with a continued decrease in his HR/FB% that's dropped in each of the past four seasons from 21.1% to 19.3, 14.3 and 10.6 this season.
Causes for hope and causes for concern. Asked how he could possibly help Werth turn things around, Davey Johnson reiterated that he's not worried. "He's a gamer," Johnson said, "He's been looking good for me lately. I think he's right on the verge of busting out. He's had some history of great second-halves. I don't worry about a guy like Jayson Werth. I worry more about the younger guys establishing themselves for the future. That's more of my concern." His manager's not worried. Teammates past and present believe he'll turn things around. The nation's capital is waiting for it to happen. It just hasn't yet.