Breaking down the Werth slump

Nats RF and former Phillies Jayson Werth doubles against the Mets on April 28. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

It’s been a rough start of the season for Jayson Werth so far.

His team is awful, he’s stuck being the only true star on a lowly team and he hasn’t exactly shot out of the starting gate. Werth is hitting .233 with four homers and seven RBIs.

After the failed experiment of having him bat second, Washington bumped him into the third spot, an important spot in the line up. He had driven only one run prior to the switch but is still not driving in runs at the pace Washington wanted him to.

Two key components are the reason for this, putting the blame evenly on himself and the rest of the team.

The first is the loss of Ryan Zimmerman leaving Werth as the only offensive super star in the line up. And with Rick Ankiel as the two-hitter and catcher Willie Ramos – a player who is splitting time with the struggling Ivan Rodriguez – Werth has no protection, there for not getting any good pitches to hit.

With Zimmerman back, Werth can see better pitches and also created runs for Zimmerman to drive in. But it’s hard to do that when the hitters in front of Werth can not get on base. Ankiel is struggling in the two-spot and with no true lead-off hitter to get on base, Werth can’t advance or score any runners.

The second is the fact Werth is hurting himself. This is the part where the finger can be pointed right at the $126 million man. Werth is NOT hitting at all, as shown above with his poor stats. Though he doesn’t have anyone on base in front of him to drive in runs, when there is, he’s not getting it done when batting .233.

Our favorite stat from last season shows just this. Werth is batting .190 (4-for-21) in 25 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. He has struck out six times, almost a fourth of those appearances. And half of those instances came with two outs, in which he’s 2-for-10 a walk. Werth has also yet to homer with runners in scoring position.

With that being said, Werth’s trip back to Philly can be interesting to say the least. He’s a career .295 hitter at Citizens Bank Park with 52 homers and 165 RBIs in 273 games. There is no reason he won’t continue that success in a park known to favor the batter.

But it’s an unfriendly environment that Werth will also have to enter. Many fans are still upset over his departure – not because he chased the pay check but he did it while going to a division rival who is not a serious World Series competitor and won’t be for a while.

Werth doesn’t have much experience facing the three pitchers starting for the Phillies tonight, tomorrow and Thursday. He has never face Cole Hamels or Vance Worley and in his five plate appearances against Roy Halladay, he managed one hit while striking out three times.

Werth was booed viciously by the couple of thousand fans who made the trek to Washington last month in the teams’ first match-up. Imagine what the right field bleachers will be like when he’s out in the field and the rest of the stadium will be like every time his name is introduced.

Will Werth bust out of his slump to stick it to the Phils or will he continue to struggle, to the pleasure of the Philadelphia fan base.

He can be grateful of one thing though: at least he won’t warrant the throwing of any D-cell batteries like our good friend J.D. Drew.

Also read: To boo or not to boo?


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