Nationals Baseball: Revere? Who said anything about Revere? Werth? Who sai... oh right that was me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Revere? Who said anything about Revere? Werth? Who sai... oh right that was me.

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.
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.


Rob Evans said...

At this point, I'd prefer Matt den Dekker in LF. At least he would provide some defense and has some upside.

sirc said...

I find it sad. Jayson's approach to the game felt like a rising tide for the team. I know that we've batted around the tangible versus perceived value of the Werth signing, but *my* perception has been that Werth's signing came just past drafting Stras and Harper for events that changed the team's awful prior course.

To watch it sputter and fizz to a close this way, with hard numbers to back an even harder truth, makes me sad.

I will still root like crazy for him. He is a great Nat.

SM said...

Most baseball careers--give or take the occasional David Ortiz--end in a whimper rather than a bang. Whether one is attached to the particular player or not, the progressive decline of skills dripping away before our eyes gives most baseball fans pause. In some ways, it's a metaphor for our own lives.

If Werth, however, has become permanently ensconced at AAA level, what are the 14 days for?

Josh Higham said...

I love Jayson to death. I agree with sirc that it's sad that he's struggling like he is. This isn't probably something that just requires a few tweaks. His body just isn't up to what he used to do. I do think he can hit better than he is right now with a few tweaks, but suddenly his upside is looking like .245 with 12 or 15 homers, where that used to be the absolute basement of his potential production.

Donald said...

It will be interesting to see how Baker handles Werth in these upcoming series with the Mets. They are obviously very important games, whether the team admits it or not. If Baker gives Werth an off day during any of those games, or pulls him super early for a defensive replacement it will give a pretty good indication of how they are thinking about him.

Harper -- can you do the same analysis on Rendon? What's up with him, and how worried should we be?

G Cracka X said...

The Werth-Tyler Moore comparison is interesting. Does Werth have more power than Tyler Moore, or does he have more XBH than a '13, '14, or '15 Moore season purely due to more ABs?

Also, how does Werth at this point compare to Tyler Moore defensively? I still feel like of the two, I'd rather have Werth playing defense in LF rather than Moore.

Harper said...

SM - because maybe not? If Werth has any chance at 2013/14 skills or even a little less than that you have to give him full time to see if that can happen. To me that's around Memorial Day. Others might think more or less. I think about now is the earliest that it's reasonable to act on. I think All-Star break is way too late but the likely end point.

GCX - Werth has less pure power imo but it had a hard time translating because he was fooled all the time. Werth makes way more contact even now and still knows what to do, just the ability is slipping away. Defense I don't know. I'd still rather have Werth in general.

Harper said...

GCX - by "it" I mean "Moore"

Robot said...

Bryce Harper Games #24-33: .159 BA, .269 SLG

So you're saying Bryce is also a bum? Send'em both packing!

1natsfan said...

If the Nationals had front loaded his contract, they would have had a chance to trade him now.
When he signed, he was paid 10 mil. Now, he makes a base salary of 21 mil. I understand that 21 mil would have cost the team more in 2011 dollars than in 2016 (taking inflation into account), but now your choices are to play a player with declining talent that can hurt the team or eat the salary and bench him while paying another free agent to replace him. No team is going to touch him in a trade for 21 mil unless the Nationals pick up a sizable portion of the contract. The reputation that the Lerners and the Nationals had at the time of the Werth signing was terrible. Werth brought legitimacy to Washington but they had to overpay to get it.

Froggy said...

Sobering, but realistic analysis Harper. I'm not ready to give up on the guy at all but one can no longer 'expect' a different result from Werth. Fir me to cope with things I have to acknowledge that he IS what he is for now.

Question: Does Werth have any sort of No-trade clause?

Jay said...

I think of Werth much as Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez were for the Tigers. The Tigers were horrible for a long time back in the 90's. The Tigers pretty much bought legitimacy by signing Ordonez and Rodriguez in the same offseason. The Nats bought legitimatecy by signing Werth. The plan was also to sign Adrian Beltre the same offseason according to recent reports. Anyway, the problems now with Werth are livable. The signing accomplished what it was supposed to accomplish. I am still hopeful that Werth can play better and be playable this year. One year of paying him to play part time next year isn't bad at all for a 7 year contract.

Kenny B. said...

This was a problem we have seen coming since the Werth deal was made. The true test is what the organization decides to do about it. It will be interesting, but this is one important area where I do not have confidence in the organization's ability to do the smart thing. I have this feeling they'll play he "he'll come around"/"we have confidence in our guys" game for the rest of the season unless/until Werth is actually injured, and they no longer have to explain themselves. Potentially worse, someone else could be injured and they use that as an excuse to keep Werth in despite the problems.

The real issue is they can't stomach the idea of paying someone so much to not play, but this was always bound to happen. Someone must have considered this circumstance. If this were a mediocre team, then sure, let him play. But this team is competitive and in a real live division race.

I like Werth, and I want him to succeed, but at some point my hope is not a very good plan to win the division.

DezoPenguin said...

Then, of course, we have to factor in Dusty's "Stick with the vets!" tendencies, though whether those are as overblown a narrative as his "Burn out their arms!" ones I don't know.

The question I'm wondering about is, can Daniel Murphy play 1B or LF? Because a quick glance at the stats shows something:

Werth: 75 wRC+; -0.1 fWAR
Zim: 81, -0.2
Rendon: 71, +0.3
Espi: 65, +0.2

All four of them are awful with the bat so far, but Rendon and Espinosa are at least making back that difference with good defense (which matches up with their career expectations).

Yet, we don't have natural replacements for Zim or Werth on the roster. Taylor obviously isn't ready for full-time play; he's at 43 wRC+ and -0.4 fWAR. den Dekker and Heisey are career backups, useful roster players but not people you can expect to save the team. Ditto Robinson, solid bench guy buy probably not going to produce like last year again.

The one player we do have access to that we might have hope for superior production from is Trea Turner, whom we can call up in June and preserve that extra year of control. Yet Turner would replace Espi, who is actually providing some positive value (and probably helping the pitching staff a fair bit), we don't know yet if he'll hit at the MLB level, and we definitely know his glove doesn't match Espi's. So the most evident solution would be to bench either Werth or Zim, whichever is cratering worse, move Murphy off 2B to fill the gap, move Espinosa to 2B, and call up Turner for SS. Otherwise, unless we're going to fool Arte Moreno into giving us Trout* for Lucas Giolito and Many, Many of His Amazing Prospect Friends, the sad truth is that we're not likely to be in good shape.

*Hey, it's a blog comment section. I can dream.

Harper said...

Froggy - Werth has a full no-trade clause.

Anonymous said...

Ryan Braun!! Will trade any Minor Leaguer, except Giolito, Turner or Severvino. Will include Michael Taylor if needed. Will pick up substantial salary of Braun. Would the Brewers bite?

sirc said...

No Braun. No cheaters. Certainly not the most egregious cheater in the game. I'd rather lose.

Bjd1207 said...

Yea I said earlier I'd be pretty crushed if we went after Braun. Even still, he's probably out of our price range too. Signed at $20M per until 2020. It would pretty much be closing the door on resigning Bryce

Chaz R said...

Wow... the end of JW... hard to imagine him as a bench guy, bu there would be no place else to out him. No way he can be traded. with his contract and performance. I could see them giving Goodwin a shot given his current numbers, but who would they send down with a trade or move like that? Not Heisey, he's been too good of a pinch hitter, Seems almost certainly with any move to replace Werth, MAT goes down or gets traded. I suppose a trade with Danny in the mix is possible too.

Robot said...

Bat Werth at leadoff. No joke. It worked in 2012, might as well try again.

Anonymous said...

Hanging onto hopeful dreams of old guys returning to past glory is one of the biggest mistakes an organization can make, especially one with resources at its disposal.

The Phillies under Ruben J. Amaro did this, and it set their rebuilding back by at least two years.

Jay said...

I have to say that Revere drives me a little crazy. The guy rarely gets a hit. I think the last two times he actually got on base he was caught stealing second. Hopefully, he does better in the coming weeks. I do think Anom 8:07 has a good point. Last night hurt. Even if Sherzer doesn't give up those two home runs, you can't beat a team 0-0. I'm hopeful they can win tonight. Winning 1 of 3 is ok with me in New York. Another sweep would be worrisome, but it's only May. We'll see.

Rob Evans said...

If the Nats get swept by the Mets, the brain-trust needs to do something about the offense or the season might be lost already.

sirc said...


Already? I think not.

BornInDC said...

Interestingly, one of the hottest left fielders/center fielders in the majors right now is, of all people, Ian Desmond:

Despite his terrible start this year, he now has an OPS of .803.

Robot said...

Glad to see that about Desi. After watching him develop all these years in DC, i was really sad to see how last year went. He definitely deserved better than that.

Robot said...

@Jay - Yeah, the hitting (or, more accurately, lack thereof) was atrocious last night, but let's not forget that that was against Syndegaard. (should have taken the advice i gave on Monday.)

I'll be more worried if there's a second shutout.