Sunday, March 25, 2012

Werth is truckin' along

US Presswire photo
Jayson Werth homered and singled during the Nationals' 12-0 victory today.
VIERA, Fla. -- The ball came out of Matt Harvey's hand and struck Jayson Werth's bat with so much force, it didn't come back to earth until it had cleared everything behind the left-field fence. Well, almost everything.

"I hit my truck," Werth said.



At least, that's how the story will be told to Werth's kids and grandkids. The Nationals right fielder couldn't confirm that his first-inning blast off Harvey actually struck his white pickup truck, but he didn't want to let that little uncertainty get in the way of a good urban legend.

"I've got to go out there and check it out," he said. "If it is dented or smashed or cracked or shattered, I kind of foresee it staying that way for a while. I think they're just messing with me. Who knows? We'll see. I'll keep you posted."

Werth's dented truck may be fiction, but this much is fact: He's hitting the ball as well this spring as he has since he first donned a Nationals uniform. Today's 2-for-5 performance raised his batting average to .281, his slugging percentage to a hefty .656.

Yes, it's spring training and it's only 32 at-bats over 12 games. But for Werth, it's about more than the numbers. It's about being comfortable with his surroundings.

"Probably more than people realize, for me anyways," he said. "I'm kind of a feel guy. I feel my way in the game, and I feel good. I feel settled. This is home for me now versus coming into last year where I didn't know what to expect, didn't really know anybody. Now I kind of feel like this is my team and I'm part of the action here. It's going to be good in the upcoming years, and we've got a good rapport with everybody in the clubhouse versus not really knowing anybody. It's definitely a different feel. It's a good feeling."

In the wake of Werth's disappointing first season in Washington, manager Davey Johnson has attempted this spring to help make his $126 million outfielder feel more comfortable. Despite early talk of moving Werth to center field, Johnson has put him back in right field in an attempt to keep his 32-year-old body in better shape over the full season.

Johnson also has hoped to keep Werth in one lineup spot for most of the year, likely sixth if everyone else remains healthy. Unfortunately, both Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche are questionable to recover from injuries in time for Opening Day, so Werth is likely to begin the season hitting cleanup.

It wouldn't be an ideal situation, especially considering how much Werth bounced around the lineup last season. But he's on board with the plan.

"That's fine. That makes sense," he said. "That's no problem. If my swing is good, I can hit anywhere in the lineup. If my swing's not good, it doesn't really matter."

No one's asking Werth to put up cleanup hitter numbers, but the Nationals are expecting better things from him in his second season, especially after seeing glimpses of it late in 2011.

"He's been a different guy," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He's hit the crap out the ball. I think starting the second half of last year, he really started being the guy that everybody saw in Philly and then what made us go get him. It wasn't easy for him to come over and have a whole new atmosphere and all that kind of stuff. I think you're going to see a big-time change this year."

If you own a truck and park it anywhere near the stadium, you've been warned.


Steady Eddie said...

As Natsjack said in the last thread, the players' lot is beyond the right field fence. There's nothing beyond the left field fence but some trees and shrubs beyond the scoreboard and "bleachers" (actually a slope with bad visibility unless you're around the hut at the top). Look at the satellite/hybrid view on Google maps.

Does make a nice story, though. And it might have hit someone's vehicle if it had gone out to right-center.

Also, nicest of all to see Werth mashing like that.

Gonat said...

From that photo above it looks like Werth's swing hasn't changed from last year and too far back in his stance. If the swing is working, that's great. I will tell you though that his form isn't great unless his knee moved forward to perpendicular at impact.

Last year Werth's back knee was dipping too much. Difference I see is that he is seeing the ball better and probably getting more aggressive.

Mark'd said...

Gonat, as long as the results are better this season who cares about style points.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Milone is pitching 7 inning shutout ball in Japan.

Anonymous said...


As I type this I am looking at a picture of Mickey Mantle's swing (right-handed) and it shows him with his lead leg straight, his center of gravity behind his right (trailing) knee, and his head bent slightly forward, just as in the picture of Werth that Mark included in this story.

Too bad Mickey did not have you as his hitting coach, or he might have done better than the .434 that he put up, batting right-handed, at the age of 34.


Gonat said...

Mark'd, its not style points or how your stance looks, it is how you look at the point of impact.

Werth has never had a picture perfect swing, and its what he is. Just an observation on the photo.

Anonymous said...

Good for Milone. I hope he does well in Oakland; the others, too.

Gonat said...

Laddie_Blah_Blah, Mickey attacked the ball with great rotation of his wrist and hands. His front plant leg was always slightly more bent than Werth. Mickey had amazing power generated by bat speed.

Watch Pujols in frames 33 to 35 on his front leg and momentum going forward. Right after impact his leg will go straight for his finish. Its subtle and his part of rotational hitting is demonstrated well in this video.

Mark'd said...

Gonat, my apologies, I see the difference. Werth is bent back in his swing. This is what he is and probably no change from his Philly days. Still a matter of results. Wouldn't be surprised if Eckstein didn't screw with his swing last year.

Anonymous said...

Bryce Harper would be excited to know that Werth is being compared to Mickey Mantle. They aren't close. That is such a slam on Mickey to have his name used in the same sentence as Werth. Laddie, you need your eyes checked.

NatsBrat said...

If the player's parking lot is behind right field, I guess Werth must have forgotten where he parked his truck--or else the ball bounced laterally for some 2-300 feet!

Gonat said...

NatsBrat, the players parking lot is more in Right Center but players parallel park on the grass in the left-field area in the players area.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:44

I am not comparing Werth with Mantle, just applying Gonat's own analysis to another player and the results he achieved with the same swing as Werth's. Take a course in reading comprehension, or perhaps it is you who needs to have his eyes checked.

Gonat, you must never have seen Mantle actually swing. He put his entire body into his swing, as well as his wrists and hands. When Mantle swung and missed, the power of his own swing often sent him to the ground on one knee. That was not because of wrist action, but because he put everything he had into generating that bat speed.

Early in his career, Ted Williams approached him at the All-Star game and asked him how he changed his swing for different pitches and pitchers. Mantle had no idea how to answer, but went into a 2-week slump after the All-Star game trying to figure out how to refine his swing. He only came out of when he went back to swinging all-out, all the time, and to hell with Williams' approach to hitting. Or yours, too, I imagine.

I think Mantle is in the Hall of Fame, despite his swing.


Anonymous said...


In 1960 William's last year he had a .451 OBP a .470 wOBA and a WAR calculated to be 4.0. Yeah his average was lower than normal at .316? Nice ISO of .329?? This was at age 40.

NO ONE ON THE NATS did that last year? I rather doubt ANYONE will do that this year at whatever age they are ... right?

That is why HE is in the hall of fame as the best pure hitter that likely ever played the game.

In Mantle's last year? Let's we see a .385 OBP, a .362 wOBA but only a .161 ISO? Not bad and .262 average. He did make a 3.9 WAR.

Interestingly enough Williams UZR of -9.0 was about the same as mantle's -10.0. Williams still played right field and never moved into to a cozy slot at first base.

Sorry dude but Mantle's ONLY advantage as an impact hitter over Williams was his switch hitting and when he was younger his speed ... which didn't last very long.

Anonymous said...

Vinny Castillo Swing > then Mickey Mantle & Ted Williams

Anonymous said...

I also like to point out the east coast bias on the time of these posts. I currently am the President of the Nats fan club in Juneau, Alaska (which currently consists of me) and it is 11:15 pm Alaskan time. God Bless America. And Go Nats! F Philly.

NatsLady said...

Anon in Juneau--had to wake up really early for work and your post made me LOL! The Japan games are on here at 6:10 a.m. Gonna be a struggle to watch but it'll be for real baseball.

Anonymous said...

I am always up early for work - where can I find out the info on the japan games?

natsfan1a said...

What, no love for Vinny's mullet?

Anonymous said...

Vinny Castillo Swing > then Mickey Mantle & Ted Williams
March 26, 2012 3:11 AM

upperdeck4 said...

>>Williams still played right field and never moved into to a cozy slot at first base.<<

Ted played left field. Not a good arm and no speed.

NatsLady said...

Anon@6:24 if you read this, check for the Mariners or the Oakland A's. That will give you game times. Wednesday 6:10 a.m. is the first game.

Anonymous said...

Always nice when fat sports fans give swing advice to major league hitters. Thanks for the laugh.

fast eddie said...

The discussion of Ted Williams brings back memories of when he managed the Senators from 1969-71. He treated hitting as a science and would talk to strangers for hours about it. Fans came early to BP, hoping to see Teddy hit line drives at age 51. He was able to increase the Senators' BA 27 points from '68 to '69 in leading the Senators to their last winning record. The roster included the likes of Eddie Brinkman, Tim Cullen and Paul Casanova, none of whom could make the Nats' lineup.
Wait--wasn't Ted cryogenically frozen somewhere in an Arizona fridge? Could he be brought back to teach hitting to our current team?? Hmmm . . .

Could we bring him back to teach hitting to our current team??? Hmmmm. . . .

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:25

"Sorry dude but Mantle's ONLY advantage as an impact hitter over Williams was his switch hitting and when he was younger his speed ... which didn't last very long."

Oh, my. Where to begin to address such abysmal ignorance? Well, let's start with some Bill James analysis. If you are not just talking through your hat, you know who Bill James is, right? If you don't, James created the sabremetric of runs created (RC = (hits + walks)/plate appearances) that assesses credit for each run produced. In 2001, he came up with a formula for "win shares", an extrapolation of runs created that calculates a player's contribution to every victory. According to that metric, Mantle should have been the AL's MVP on 9 separate occasions, not just the 3 he was awarded. When Cyril Manning extrapolated win shares per at bat, Mantle came in 2nd only to Babe Ruth. If you wanted a winning team, Mantle would have been the informed choice, not Williams.

Now let's go to Pete Palmer, author of "Hidden Game of Baseball", shall we? Just so you know, it was he who developed the OPS metric, OPS = SLG + OBP, as well as developing BFW (batter fielder wins), which calculates the number of wins (over or under) what an average player would contribute with his batting base running and fielding. In the world of BFWs, 2 games per season are significant. Palmer credits Mantle with 71.8 over his career, with Mantle scoring a BFW of 8 in both 1956 and 1957, and with a 7.5 in 1961. On 3 other occasions, he had a BNFW over 5.

And, lest we forget, contrary to your unsupported assertion, part of Mantle's superior effectiveness was his speed. Even after age and injury took some of that away, he avoided the dreaded GDP stat like few in the history of the game, far fewer than other alleged speed demons such as Willie Mays (only about half as many as Mays), and certainly contributed far more with his base-running and fielding skills than lead-footed Ted Williams.

You can argue that Williams was the better hitter, but there is no question that Mantle was the better and more effective player. When he was healthy Mantle was also, arguably, the best there ever was. Tony Kubek, who played on the field in the same era as both Mantle and Williams, argues that Mantle, batting right-handed, was the best hitter he ever saw.

You can take Williams. He was certainly a great player. I'll take Mick, who was even better.


Cwj said...

I'll take Ruth :-)

The Retired Journalist said...

I was at the game on Sunday and today I spoke with the same people quoted in Tom Boswell's Post column Both the parking lot attendant and the tiki bar bartender told me the same story, that Werth's truck was parked near the entrance to the players' parking lot behind the left field fence and the World of Beer's tiki bar and that the home run banked off an palm tree and onto Werth's truck. Today, by the way, Werth had parked in left field again, but he was driving his Porsche, not his truck. (At the body shop?)

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