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Posted at 7:15 AM ET, 02/23/2011

How Jayson Werth fits at Nationals Park

By Adam Kilgore
Morning brushback

When Jayson Werth came to Nationals Park this winter for his introductory press conference, his agent, Scott Boras, came with him. Boras made the point that, of all the visiting parks he played, Werth hit best at Nationals Park, his new baseball home. "He would know," Werth said. "He's good at that stuff."

In this case, Boras wasn't quite right. But he was close. One of the most fascinating aspects of the home team acquiring a big-ticket free agent comes in watching his adjustment to his new home ballpark. How does he see the ball at the plate? How quickly will he learn the wall's angles, or how the ball carries?

werth nationals.jpg

With the Phillies, Werth had great success at Nationals Park. (Necessary caveat: he was facing Nationals pitching from the years 2007 to 2010.) Werth hit .307 with a .390 on-base percentage and a .580 slugging percentage. The only away parks where he played at least 20 games and had an OPS higher than .970 were Coors Field and Turner Field.

Werth has hit six home runs at Nationals Park, more than he's hit at any other away park. Since the stadium opened, among visiting players, only Ryan Howard (nine) and Raul Ibanez (eight) have hit more home runs at Nats Park.

"I always saw the ball real well there," Werth said. "I always seemed to hit the ball good while playing there."

Defensively, Werth feels like the park suits his style. He's athletic for a right fielder, and the short porch in Philadelphia sometimes negated that - most balls over his head were homers, anyway. In Nationals Park, he'll be able to show off the speed that allows to play center field when needed.

"It's got a big right field, which I like," Werth said. "I liked the short right field in Philly, because you can play shallow and throw people out at first. Or at least try. I never actually did. In Nationals Park, it's a big right field, so I'll be able to show my range a little bit.

"Last year, in San Diego, there was a ball that was hit deep into right field. I managed to run it down. It was kind of more of a center field type play. I enjoyed that. The Nationals', it's not quite as big as San Diego, but it's a big right field."

FROM THE POST

Boz studies teen phenoms from history and finds Bryce Harper won't make it to the majors as quickly as many fans hope.

Bryce Harper is here to make the team, a confidence borne from his unique career path.

Jayson Werth is feeling confident in the Nationals' chances and his place on the team.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Jeff Passan explains why the rules need to be different for Harper.

Mark Zuckerman says Werth and Harper shared the spotlight -- and high expectations.

Ben Goessling writes that Harper had confidence to spare.

By Adam Kilgore  | February 23, 2011; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brushback  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Bo Porter's football-toting outfield drill
Next: Long toss: Opening day dilemma

Comments

Ha. Werth always saw the ball real well here. Werth and damn near every other hitter in the game. Nats pitching has been woeful and Werth has played in mashing lineups to boot. Not sure how he'll do facing the Phils, Braves and marlins rotations in Nats park instead of ours. Something tells me those Nats park numbers revert to the mean.

Boz's advocating keeping Harper from being a regular player until June 2012 -- even if he shows the chops to play in the bigs --- because this or that HOF great player of yore did not go hog wild in MLB until he turned 20. Utter nonsense.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 23, 2011 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I must be getting old because I wouldn't consdier right field at Nats Park to be a "big right field." Yes, bigger than Citizens Bank, but not dramatically.

Posted by: KenNat | February 23, 2011 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Werth's career numbers at Nats Stadium mean much. But Nats pitchers in 2010 did post a respectable 3.97 ERA at home, 10th of 16 in the NL.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 23, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"With the Phillies, Werth had great success at Nationals Park. (Necessary caveat: he was facing Nationals pitching from the years 2007 to 2010.) Werth hit .307 with a .390 on-base percentage and a .580 slugging percentage. The only away parks where he played at least 20 games and had an OPS higher than .970 were Coors Field and Turner Field."

Necessary caveat: In Coors Field and Turner Field, where he hit better than he did in Nationals Park against Nationals pitching, he was facing Rockies pitching and Braves pitching. Ubaldo Jiminez, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, etc. Better pitching than he faced in Nationals Park, by far. So throw out pitching as a factor in why he hit well at certain parks.

Posted by: FeelWood | February 23, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Werth's numbers in Atlanta is more significant as he will play there 9 times a year.

The numbers in Nats Park are encouraging but you also have to consider trading those numbers of facing Lannan, Livo, Marquis, JD Martin, Detwiler, etc. vs. now having starts vs. Halladay, Cliff Lee, Oswalt and Hamels.

If everything else stays the same, Werth's numbers will drop slightly as the pitchers in will face in 2011 will be tougher esentially subtracting 18 games vs. the Nats and adding 18 games vs. the Phillies.

That's the reality.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 23, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

>>Bryce Harper:
It's a done deal.
Hagerstown Suns homepage is already promoting Harper's opening game with them on Friday, April 15 vs. the Lakewood BlueClaws. Seems like it's already carved in stone. And they aint messin around. You've got to buy a mini plan to get opening day seats. They know a golden goose when they see it. They are calling it HarperTown.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | February 23, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"If everything else stays the same, Werth's numbers will drop slightly as the pitchers in will face in 2011 will be tougher esentially subtracting 18 games vs. the Nats and adding 18 games vs. the Phillies.

That's the reality."

A greater reality - everything else never stays the same.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 23, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I suspect a LOT of players had their best hitting results at Nationals Park for something that has nothing to do with stadium dimensions the past few years, hence Rizzo's desperate search for a top tier starter.

Posted by: alecrogers1 | February 23, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

@KenNat...Of course you're getting old. Actually, Nat's park is pretty much neutral, whereas most parks, today, are hitter friendly. Now, take Griffith Stadium (toughest HR park in the AL), where right field was very deep and there was a 30 foot wall, you really only hit HRs to right if your name was Ruth, Williams, etc. and you've got a big RF area for Werth to roam.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | February 23, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Lot's of pessimism from Nats fans. Take heart though because you've got probably the number 2 right fielder in baseball who hits for more power than the number 1. He did hit well at Nats park and he'll continue to do so. Werth is a terrific all around player. I'm sure there would be more excitement for this team if Strasburg was pitching but still it's a team that's definitely on the move up. Desmond, Espinoza, Zimmerman, Werth, Larouche, Ramos/Flores is a pretty good starting lineup. Still don't like Riggleman but hopefully they'll dump him quick if they have a bad start. Same with Nowhere Morgan. The Relievers are very good, and maybe, just maybe, J. Zimmerman will come back and pitch like he supposed to. He’s the key to the staff right now.

Posted by: Dog-1 | February 23, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The caveat about Nats pitching is not as substantial as you'd think. The post cites that Werth hit .307 and had a .970 OPS at Nats park. The Nats pitching at home is almost exactly league average (and last year it was actually better than league average).

Hhere are the Home splits for Nats pitching, compared to NL average:

2010: Nats BA and OPS against .260/.719 (league average .257/.726)
2009: .263/.766 vs .259/.743
2008: .269/.773 vs .263/.750

Within .006 in BA and within .023 in OPS of league average. There is more to Werth's performance at Nats Park than just our pitchers.

Posted by: natinbeantown | February 23, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

HA HA HA HA! You Nats fans crack me up! I just hope Jayson enjoys his cash as Phillie fans will enjoy their parades. Look out! Phillie fans invade Nats Park April 14th!

Posted by: jpstuhr | February 23, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Also: against Nats pitching ONLY last year, Werth has an OBP 80 points higher at Nats Park than at CBP (.500 vs .419)

It's a small sample size, but you can't dismiss his Nats Park numbers by the pitchers he faced.

Posted by: natinbeantown | February 23, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"It's a done deal.
Hagerstown Suns homepage is already promoting Harper's opening game with them on Friday, April 15 vs. the Lakewood BlueClaws. Seems like it's already carved in stone. And they aint messin around. You've got to buy a mini plan to get opening day seats. They know a golden goose when they see it. They are calling it HarperTown."

I think I agree with Sue Dinem's hypothesis that the Nats will only leave him there long enough to keep him far away from the DC area. That said, a rapid promotion to Potomac will likely occur. He's probably at least at that level offensively.

I suspect you will see Harper spend more time in Harrisburg and Syracuse. Especially Syracuse as it is more than reasonably far away from DC and any real big city. Plus there you find Randy Knorr a pretty fair instructor for prospects.

Posted by: periculum | February 23, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

So is this the only place he did that, beantown? I seem to recall he hit a couple of teams well, which is true of most hitters.

Maybe the Phils like road games here b/c they enjoy hearing somebody else get booed for a change.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | February 23, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

In point of fact, you have to wonder if that is why Knorr was placed in Syracuse? Less use as just veteran depth and more for honing top prospects?

Posted by: periculum | February 23, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

In the end its all about pitching Phillies fans. Sure you have the "fab four" but one need only look at teams like Oakland to see how quickly top pitching prospects can improve the state of things once they get things figured out.

The Nats do indeed have a measured amount of potential in Zimmermann, Detwiler, Maya, Stammen, and Gorzelanny. To a much lesser extent that may also be true for Mock and then there's Wang who will likely start in the bullpen if anywhere. Best not to count them out just yet dudes ...remember Werth will be looking to make your GM pay for not wanting to keep him ... ~smiles~

Posted by: periculum | February 23, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The Nats should be better, but pitching is still the big glaring need area, and it's not up to snuff, not in the NL East. Nats need at least two more quality starters in the rotation.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | February 23, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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