Jayson Werth Is Earning Every Penny of His Contract
When the Washington Nationals shocked the baseball world by signing Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract prior to the 2011 season, the baseball world couldn't figure it out.
Why would Werth sign with a team that had gone 69-93 the year before, 28 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies, the team for whom Werth had played the previous four seasons? And why would the Nationals sign Werth, who was a solid player during his time in Philly, to a contract that would make him one of the highest-paid players in baseball? After all, Werth had made only one All-Star team prior to signing that contract, in 2009, the only season in which he finished with more than 30 home runs.
Everyone knew Werth was a good player, but very few thought he was a franchise cornerstone player, worthy of a $20 million-a-year contract. Signing a 32-year-old to a deal that would pay him $21 million in each of his final three seasons, the last of which would be his age-38 season in 2017, seemed foolhardy. And, in the final year or two of his deal, it may still be.
But right now, Jayson Werth is earning every penny of that contract.
Werth was named the National League Player of the Month on Monday after blistering the National League with one of the hottest bats in all of baseball.
And once again this year, Werth is having a solid season in Washington.
Werth's nERD of 1.90 means a lineup full of Jaysons would score 1.9 more runs a game than a lineup full of average players over a 27-out ballgame. That's 31st in all of baseball. And according to our numbers, Werth is not expected to slow down, projecting to hit .290/.383/.483 with an OPS of .866, a weighted on-base average (wOBA) .373, and seven home runs over the final two months.
In baseball, one WAR point is generally seen as being equal to about $6 to $7 million in salary (per FanGraphs). So far this year, Werth's fWAR is 2.4 and his bWAR is 1.8, and if he continues to play as well as he has, he will likely approach 3.0 by year's end. So a 3.0 WAR would roughly be worth about $18 to $21 million, right in line with the $20 million he is making this season.
In other words, Jayson Werth is earning his keep.
However, as recently as two years ago, there were doubts this kind of production was still possible. In 2011, he hit .232/.330/.389 with just 5 home runs in 649 plate appearances, and he played in just 81 games in 2012 because of injuries. However, that all turned around last year when he hit .318/.398/.532 with 25 home runs, and he has continued that excellence so far this season.
At 35, Werth is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, he's performing at as high a level as he ever has, working quality at-bats, getting on base, and producing runs for the Nats.
Oh, and the beard is pretty killer, too.