It might be time to start recognizing that after 50-60% of the season completely wasted with the bat, Jayson Werth might be back. It’s not like he’s hitting spectacularly at the moment, but he appears to be back to his old self. He no longer appears lost at the plate, fearful of striking out, missing a slider by 5 feet. In fact, he looks like Jayson Werth.
In his last 34 games and 146 PAs, which is a little above 20% of a season, he has hit .286/.363/.485. That’s an OPS of .848 over 1/5 of the year. That is NOT a “hot” streak by any means for a guy of Werth’s capabilities. But it might be about what most people expected when he was signed. Sure, some people expected a .900+ OPS, but he only did that in 2010. From 2007-2009, in one of the best hitters parks in the league, his OPS was .870. Take away Citizens’ Bank Park, add in the fact that he has to face the Phillies pitchers, would you expect more than an .848 OPS over a whole season? Probably not.
I’ve just updated my article on the local pro baseball team of the late 1800s. Thanks to the Twitter personality known as @MorseBeard, I was given some new information on the location of the original stadium the team used. I’ve added that info, so if you’ve already read it, there’s some nice addition to what was there. If you haven’t, well, go check it out! You can even learn about that Cornelius McGillicuddy fellow that Bob Carpenter was referring to on TV yesterday.
What strikes me initially is how much is paid to guys who aren’t playing at all anymore – Pudge, Strasburg, LaRoche and Marquis total over 30%. Although Marquis DID contribute this year, and we’ll definitely see Stephen (and probably Ivan) again in September. Money’s certainly not everything, but that’s close to a waste of 1/3 of the payroll this year (if you believe that Marquis was utterly replaceable, and ignore that paying Strasburg this year is an investment in the future). Imagine what this team can do if the payroll increases, and players who actually contribute make up a higher percentage of it. What strikes you when you see this?
On Monday night, the Nats signed all of their top 4 picks, each of which brings something unique to the table. They each have significant upside, but also have potentially debilitating issues. So which one of these guys will end up making a difference for the Nationals?
Will it be Anthony Rendon, the great hitting prospect who is going to play third base, assuming his shoulder cooperates, conspicuously blocked by Ryan Zimmerman?
Maybe Alex Meyer, the 6’9″ righty who can unleash a 98 mph fastball, has a devastating slider, but may never have enough control to make the big league squad.
Is it Brian Goodwin, a speedy center fielder with a great eye, who hasn’t shown he can make the reads yet to actually play a decent CF, and hasn’t distributed the kind of power to suggest he’d play elsewhere?
Or Matt Purke, the lefty former top prospect who can hit the low 90s when he’s healthy, which he hasn’t been for a while?
So who you got – and I’m talking contributing to the Nats, not some other team.
The Nats had, as Mark Zuckerman pointed out, a big night. They signed all four of their top picks, and that is a good thing. Don’t let memories of Jim Bowden and Aaron Crow fool you – this is perfectly normal. More than 90% of prospects sign, and most of those who don’t sign had indicated that they really wanted to go to college. Even Josh Bell, who sent a letter to all 30 teams saying he wouldn’t sign, signed with the Pirates. Still, this is very good news, and should generate real excitement. Let’s take a look, once again, at who the Nats picked. For a more in depth of the first three, check out my Day 1 draft analysis. Below are just a few highlights and lots of quotes from people more knowledgeable about prospects than I am:
Anthony Rendon (Pick #6 – 3B, Rice)
A 6’0″ third baseman, the Nats can dream about putting him at second base so he has somewhere to play in the majors, but some evaluators think that’s not gonna happen. Regardless of where he plays, he can hit. He has a GREAT eye and some real power. He has had injury concerns that we probably won’t know enough about until next season, but if he’s healthy he should be able to hit his way up to the majors very quickly. He rnaked #2 on Keith Law’s final predraft rankings, and is considered by many to be the best hitter in this year’s draft. A few quotes on him:
Keith Law – “…once Rendon’s shoulder is healthy his bat and eye should let him advance quickly through the minors.”
Kevin Goldstein – “If Rendon IS healthy, he projects as a .280-.300 hitter with tons of walks, 20-25 home runs and plus defense at third. Only question about him other than health was that he didn’t necessarily have a big time pro body at 6-0/190.”
If you haven’t noticed, Michael Morse is having a pretty good season with the bat. But while he continues to rake the ball, what isn’t being talked about is just how good he really is.
He’s currently hitting .323/.371/.562 in his first full year of being a starter. This gives him an OPS+ of 155, good enough for best in the history of the Nationals. He actually has the second best OPS, behind Nick Johnson’s 2006 number of .948, the year he finished with an incredible .428 OBP. But thanks to adjusting for the league now, with hitting down across the board, Morse is actually better compared to the rest of the league than Johnson was.
He’s currently in 2nd place in the batting title race in NL, but winning that may not be doable. Jose Reyes is comfortable ahead, batting .336, and has about 60 more ABs, meaning sitting on the DL for a few weeks won’t drop him out of the competition, and Morse has to catch up rather than hope Jose falters. And his .323 would also be best in the history of the Nationals, for full time players, of course. But he doesn’t just look great among Nats players.