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Jayson Werth to hit second for the Nats

Mar 25, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

Jayson Werth

When Jayson Werth signed his massive deal with the Nationals back in December, my first thought was “wow, they paid elite slugger prices for a guy who really isn’t an elite slugger.” They still may have overpaid Werth, but to the Nationals’ credit, they’re not going to expect him to be something he’s not. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

Jayson Werth, the right fielder the Nationals signed this offseason for $126 million over seven years, will bat second in the lineup to begin the season, Manager Jim Riggleman said. The move comes as a surprise, but it is logical given Werth’s ability reach base and the Nationals’ needs at the top of the lineup.

Werth has power, sure, but he led the league in doubles last year while his homers went down. His true value is getting on base, with his OBP over the past four years being .404, .363, .373 and .388.  Reasonable people may disagree about lineup theory, but this is pretty classic second hitter material.  The worst thing for him and for the Nats would be if there was some expectation that he try to be the 40 home run guy that he’s never shown any real indication of being.

Nice move, Nats. Me likey.

  1. mannistats - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    According to Tom Tango’s research on lineup construction, the best hitters of a team should generally hit 2nd and 4th, with the former skewing towards discipline and the later towards power. Both are more valuable than the 3rd spot, given the frequency it comes up with 2 outs and no runners (2nd spot more valuable due to increased plate appearances and 4th due to more opportunities with runners on). So from the saberist viewpoint, this is a pretty shrewd move by Wriggleman. I hate the notion of the BA-driven, middling OBP guy who can “handle the stick” and bunt that constantly gets put there. Making outs at the top of the lineup in front of your best power hitters = dumb.

    • seanmk - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:28 AM

      the best three hitters should bat first, second, and fourth

      • mannistats - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        Don’t disagree there, but given the production of those ahead of the leadoff hitter (especially in the NL with the pitcher 9th), the other 2 spots are generally considered more important, but yes, I’d have leadoff as the third most valuable spot. Given that you’d like to bunch your best hitters up top, this leads credence to batting the pitcher 8th and having a second leadoff man, as it gives your best boppers at the top of the lineup a chance to do damage.

  2. seanmk - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    well trying to figure out that lineup is hard to do

    espinosa/morgan
    werth
    desmond
    zimmerman
    laroche
    morse
    morgan/espinosa
    pudge

    end of the season espinosa led off a lot, might continue it, don’t exactly understand it, neither are high on base guys

    • paul621 - Mar 25, 2011 at 6:11 PM

      Actually, Morgan isn’t in line to be a starter at this point. Outfield is looking like Morse, Ankiel, and Werth. Rumor has it as Desmond, Werth, Zim, LaRoche, Morse at the top. Then probably Ankiel, Espinosa, Pudge.

  3. Utley's Hair - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    What’s the over/under of speedster Nyjer being thrown out at home—or third—on JDub doubles?

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Enjoy the money, JDub…because there won’t be much else to enjoy. You could have stayed hitting behind the Big Piece and loved life. Instead, you are batting second for the Gnats.

  5. Jonny 5 - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    One thing I have to say about Werth. He swings at less junk than most batters do, the man has a great eye for the junk.

  6. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    I agree with the Nats move as well. I hope they don’t use him to be the voice of their team to the media though; he always come off as really unfriendly.

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