Thursday, September 17, 2009

Phillies Jayson Werth Continues to State His Case


Philadelphia Phillies right-fielder Jayson Werth continues to state his case as one of the most under-rated and talented players in baseball. Last night, his 7th inning grand slam added an exclamation point in the Phillies 6-1 victory, but as usual, Werth helped the team win in many ways which often go unnoticed or under-publicized.
Werth has followed up a very solid season a year ago, when he started out as a platoon player and eventually won an everyday role, with an all-star caliber performance. He is now an important fixture in the Phillies line-up, providing a much needed right-handed power presence amongst the team's three lefty sluggers (Howard, Utley and Ibanez.)
Statistics continue to mount and help illustrate his worth (no pun intended.) Last night's bases loaded drive landed 10-15 rows into the left-centerfield seats and was Werth's second slam of the season. He continues a strong second half run and has now amassed 34 home runs and 88 RBI. His .272 batting average is a respectable number, but it also belies his true contributions, which might be better indicated through his .373 On Base Percentage and .526 Slugging Percentage. He has also scored 90 runs and succeeded on 13 of 16 stolen base attempts.
Despite growing statistical evidence, not everything is captured in the numbers. Yesterday's game served as a microcosm for the whole season and helped to highlight his many contributions. Besides the aforementioned bomb, Werth gunned a throw to first base to double off a Nationals runner after a flyout. In the bottom half of the 6th inning, he singled and his take out slide at second base not only prevented an inning ending double play, but also forced a throwing error to plate the team's 2nd run.
Other subtle ways that Werth contributes are by making pitchers work (as much as any hitter in the league), taking extra bases, forcing opposing teams to hold runners out of respect for his great arm, tracking down balls that would otherwise be hits and cutting off balls in the gaps. Some things, like his 11 outfield assists, provide measure, but many of the other attributes are captured only by astute observers of the game. Two labels come to mind when watching him play day in and day out- "gamer" and "winner."
Although he was a late addition to the 2009 National All-Star squad, Werth still often flies under the radar due to the plethora of star players around him. He is working hard to quickly change that as teams around the league are taking notice, but he still remains the most unheralded five tool player in the league. Ruben, lock him up to a long-term deal before his market value soars further.

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