Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is beginning to get the last laugh on those who said his free agent signing was a mistake in 2011. Werth has helped lead the Nationals to the best record in baseball and most wins in team history with 89.
When Werth was signed by Washington in the winter of 2011 there were those who said the team was making a mistake. The former Philadelphia Phillies star signed a seven year contract worth 126 million dollars. It was believed that Washington had spent too much for a player who though once an all-star and contributor to a championship team could not carry a ball club.
During the 2011 season Werth proved the skeptics right. While playing as if he was trying to justify his contract Werth struggled. He was not the solid outfielder that played in Philadelphia. At the plate, he batted a not so contract worthy .232 with 20 home runs and 58 runs batted in. Despite being touted as the man who would be Washington’s best player, Werth was considered to be a bust. It was outfielder and first baseman Michael Morse who put up the big numbers batting .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI.
After the season those who followed the Phillies and Nationals felt that Philadelphia had done the right thing in letting Werth go. While Washington did finish a respectable 80-81 the Phillies won the NL East and advanced to post season play for the fifth year in a row. There were Nationals fans who felt the team had made a major mistake in signing Werth and couldn’t correct it, because no one would trade for him.
2012 did not start out well for Werth. Despite starting to play better in the field and finding his batting eye he suffered a broken wrist in May while trying to make a sliding catch. It was believed that Werth would be out for most if not all of the season. The Nationals were so unsure of his return that they called up 19 year old phenom Bryce Harper to take his place.
Werth has come back. He returned to the team on August 2 and began to put things together. Manager Davey Johnson has moved him into the lead off spot in the batting order. Werth has rewarded him by carrying a current batting average of .305 with 5 home runs, 26 RBI and 36 runs scored. Modest numbers, but not bad in 236 at bats.
The biggest reason why Werth is getting the last laugh is because Washington is in first place while the Phillies are struggling to make the playoffs. He was signed by the Nationals to help them win a championship. In his second season it seems Werth will get the chance to do just that.
For all of the Phillies fans who boo him every time he comes to the plate at Citizens Bank Park and Washington fans who thought him a bust Werth is proving once again that we should let things play out.
In his second season he may be starting to get the last laugh.