My note yesterday that Werth wasn't pulling his weight somehow turned into a Werth / Revere issue in the comments. It's true that Revere isn't doing well. Ok that's an understatement. He's doing horribly. However it's also true Ben Revere has played in 10 games. Everyone can slump for 10 games.
Bryce Harper Games #24-33 : .154 BA, SLG .269
See? Here are some facts about Ben Revere
He's been remarkably consistent offensively the past few years.
BA / OPS+ / BABIP
2015: .306 / 98 / .338
2014: .306 / 92 / .330
2013: .295 / 93 / .344
As noted by commenters, he's getting very very unlucky with BIP. .105 right now. That would only make sense without luck if he was (1) hitting everything softly, or (2) hitting everything in the air (history has proven he doesn't have the strength to get those over the wall).
Ok let's check. (1) Well what's his soft% (percentage of balls that leave his bat at a relatively slow speed)? 18.4% That's not high. And his hard%? 28.9%. Not fantastic but better than he usually does. He's not much of a hard hit guy as you can probably tell from his complete lack of power.
(2) Is his flyball (FB)% any higher? Nope 18.4% Right in line with his traditional levels. This isn't a problem either.
Is there anything that's off? Well he's striking out a bit more and he's pulling the ball a lot more. So he's probably losing some slap hits the other way that he normally beats out with his legs. But honestly TEN GAMES! Everything here is screaming bad luck.
Is Ben Revere just a Singly Joe? Yep. But he's a singly Joe who should hit .280+ at least. Just calm down and wait. MAT had like 30 games (and even that might not have been enough IMO). Come back to me with Revere issues in early June.
Now Werth, this is something different. We aren't working off three consistent seasons from a guy that just turned 28, like we are for Revere. We are working from a pretty awful season from a guy who's a couple days away from 37. Last year Werth hit .221 / .302 / .384 and at this age looking at the past 3 years is too much. He's not going to hit like a 34 yr old again. Let's stop pretending that he might.
Yes he is getting unlucky with BABIP as well though not nearly as egregiously as Revere. A .232 BABIP is very low but when you see that he had one of .253 last year (also very low) you start to think that this could be his new normal. Let's check the same things for Werth we did for Revere.
(1) Soft % - Nope nothing up here 14.8% and his Hard % is fine too 38.6%. So he's not suddenly hitting the ball a lot different in a way we can tell from this stat.
(2) Oh ok. His line drive (LD)% is WAY down 15.9% which would be his lowest (though not by far, he didn't line drive much in his Phillies years) and his FB% is way up 50.0%. Even taking into account that his HR/FB ratio is higher than last year this is a problem. Fly balls are generally outs if you can't hit them over the fence and his HR/FB percentage isn't anything special.
Anything else for Werth? Yep. Lots. His K's are up to 25.8% which is up from last years 22.2%. His walks are WAY down to a paltry 6.8%, which is embarrassingly low for a guy like him who used to walk twice as much. He swings and misses more, his contact is down, and he's just swinging more in general. He's seeing a lot more pitches in the zone. Everything here looks bad. This isn't Werth 1.0 or Werth 2.0. This is a new Werth, let's call it Werth AAA.
Werth 1.0 was the prime Phillies Werth. That guy would work the zone and swing hard at pitches in the zone. He'd walk a lot, strike out a lot. He generated a lot of power, but not as much average. He was a guy going for the big hit, the home run, but also a guy with very good speed and a good eye. The strikeouts were a choice, a trade-off for the power, and they were not haphazard. They were from battles with pitchers in the strike zone.
Werth 2.0 was the prime Nationals Werth. Injuries had taken some of that power away so Werth adapted. Instead of going for the HR, he started going for the hard hit line drive attacking fastballs. While the power went down a bit the average went up. He still worked the strike zone but he became more discerning and tried to put the ball in play more and his K's fell. He still had decent speed so he could continue to use that as well.
Werth AAA is having more trouble making contact. He can no longer do much with pitches out of the strike zone and can't catch up to some fastballs. This is increasing his stirke outs. Those balls he can hit he's hitting less squarely. Injuries and age have now taken his speed, so he can't leg out hits anymore. This is decreasing his average. He's swinging from his heels now to compensate, trying to drive balls out of the park. He's trying to hit more FBs, and is pulling the ball more. It's working but only to a point. Pitchers aren't very afraid of that outcome so they are challenging him more in the strike zone. This has ruined his ability to get on base and work the count. Along with the lack of walks, his P/PA is basically a quarter of a pitch lower than what had been career lows in 2013 and 2014.
Werth is not hitting LDs and doesn't have speed so while the BABIP should
improve and with it the average, expectations should be muted. As of today Werth is a one-trick pony, Werth is a Tyler Moore. He sits on pitches and tried to turn on them to knock them out of the park. That's it. He doesn't walk anymore. He can't field anymore. The hope is that he will return to form from injury but we are now 120 games and a full-offseason into "recovery". The chances of a large improvement are small and grow smaller daily.
Werth is a problem. Given that the on-hand solutions are iffy at best, the Nats should play it out to the fair endpoint (IMO) of Memorial Day. At that point Werth will have had a third of this season and more than 80% of a season worth of games in total since coming back from injury telling us what he is now. At that point the Nats need to start making decisions on how the rest of the season plays out. It doesn't mean that on June 1st Heisey or Robinson is starting in LF. But it does mean that the Nats are planning out a post All-Star break future that does not include Werth in the starting line-up. It means feelers are going out to other clubs for trades and internally discussions are being held for the best course of action.
You've got 14 days Jayson. Make them count.