When Jayson Werth emerged from the dugout in the top of the ninth inning yesterday with bat in hand, a rush of relief washed over the Washington Metropolitan Area, for the Washington Nationals, down 7-2, were to soon mount a comeback and claim their ninth victory in as many games. After all, with manager Davey Johnson’s introduction of Werth to the game how could they not?
What made Werth’s appearance so special?
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Nationals had won all 10 of the games in which the newly-reinstated outfielder had appeared since his August 2 return. Why should yesterday have been any different? I mean, it is not like we are throwing out meaningless statistics or anything.
Unfortunately, the stat proved to be meaningless and the comeback they did mount was quickly filed under “too little, too late.” But even in the team’s eventual 7-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Werth managed to push a run across the plate on a groundout to third baseman Chris Johnson and leave his mark on a game that saw him sit for 26 of 27 outs – nothing new for the 11-year veteran enjoying a turnaround season after a subpar debut with a new team.
Werth played in 150 games for the Nationals in 2011, posting a .232/.330/.389 line with 26 doubles, 20 home runs and 58 RBIs. He also netted a WAR of just 1.0. Needless to say, Washington baseball fans were not happy. They expected more from their new $126 million outfielder.
In just 38 games this year, Werth has nearly matched last year’s WAR and his line is sitting at a much heftier .308/.406/.459. Much more impressive, however, are his numbers since rejoining the team after a stint on the 60-day disabled list.
Since his return, Werth has reached base 21 times in 42 plate appearances, hit in nine of 11 games and posted a .400/.500/.514 line that, when combined with his first half effort, seems to have absolved him of his 2011 performance in the eyes of the fans.
Werth, who vowed not to rush back from the DL, now hardly remembers the injury that kept him out of 74 games.
“I am totally surprised how my wrist is doing, how I’ve recovered,” Werth said in an interview this weekend. “When I look down at my wrist and I see that scar, it almost reminds me. Like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I almost forget about it until I see the hatchet wound.”
Werth cites the comforts of home as a contributing factor to his newly-rediscovered success. Davey Johnson, however, cites Werth’s approach.
“I think since he’s come back, his approach, he’s using the whole field,” Johnson said. “I thought he got a little too much going opposite field. This year, he’s attacking the ball. They come in on him, he’ll pull it. He’s much more of a threat. I like his swing much more this year. Everything about him is great.”
No matter what has helped Werth get his groove back, one thing holds true: Washingtonians are happy for him. And Werth is excited for Washingtonians, who he believes have are in store for something special.
“We’re going through it all together, and we’re starting something great in the city of Washington D.C., with the team that we have and the guys that we have,” Werth told radio broadcaster Dave Jageler in a pre-game interview last week. “And the fans are starting to take note, and show up in record numbers. And that just bodes well for things to start from and go from there.”
Get ready Washington, 2012 is just the beginning.