The Washington Nationals have had their share of significant injuries this spring, most notably the offensive loss of Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche. Both of those players may be ready, but it’s safe to assume that Werth’s offensive numbers may be critical to a successful 2012 season.
The man with the beard struggled in 2011 to start the season, with the weight of a seven-year, $126 million loomed over his head on his new team. Ryan Zimmerman was hurt, and he had no protection to speak of in the everyday lineup. This season has the potential to see Werth’s offensive numbers improve drastically, especially if you consider his quietly impressive spring numbers. He’s hit .281 with a .343 OBP in 32 at-bats. He leads the Nationals with three homers in Grapefruit League play. It all culminated with an absolute bomb that reportedly hit Werth’s own truck in the parking lot. He told Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington, “There was a smoldering crater in the hood.” Werth’s ability to joke around and stay loose may be the most important thing for his success this year.
Ryan Zimmerman’s health will probably have the biggest impact on the Nationals success at the plate this season. However, Werth’s value can’t be understated. With a stronger lineup and a few more experience under the young line ups belt, Werth can focus on doing what he does best, getting on base at extraordinarily high rates and hitting about 25 homers a season. Despite struggles in 2011, between 2007 and 2010, he averaged an insane .380 OBP with 24 home runs per season.
Spring numbers don’t mean a lot, but for Werth, he told MLB.com (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/fantasy/news/#player_id=150029) that “This year, coming into Spring Training, it was probably the best I’ve felt, and that has carried over.” If he’s feeling good, there’s no telling the impact that he can have on this roster.
The only question for Werth is where he’ll have the biggest impact for the team. His high-OBP and ability to steal about 15 bases per year slot him fairly well for the lead off spot, but his ability to hit for power and drive in 70-80 runs every year will leave him in the fifth or sixth slot in the order throughout the year to help an offense that may need the help scoring runs. His role may be amplified if the Nationals can’t fix their injuries before April 5, and Nats fans will have to hope the $126 million man can deal with the pressure this time around.