Werth Gets A Hit with 2 Out & RISP, Pigs Fly

Last night, Jayson Werth broke an 0-for-35 skid with two outs and runners in scoring position. Raul Ibanez hit an RBI triple in the bottom of the seventh inning and Werth drove him in with a double to right field.

Werth’s “clutchitude” has been a point of contention for much of the past three months ever since the media and fan base decided they no longer enjoyed his presence. And it’s true that this year, his offense has typically come when the team least needs it. The usefulness of those numbers is the crux of the debate.

He’s logged only 76 plate appearances with two outs and runners in scoring position, certainly not a good sample size. Werth averages 4.2 PA per game, so that is the equivalent of roughly 18 games. Drawing conclusions from less than three weeks’ worth of data is certainly not recommended. And, as we learn here, the only stats that become reliable between 50 and 100 PA are swing rate and contact rate.

Furthermore, if you go back to one year ago, we find that Werth was pretty clutch, hitting for a .985 OPS with 2 outs/RISP and 1.006 when the game was “late & close”. In 2008, there was almost no difference in his performance in high and low leverage situations. Most reasonable people currently calling Werth a “choker” or “unclutch” would look at his ’09 stats and say he was clutch.

So, did Werth somehow lose his ability to be clutch between 2009 and ’10? Did he forget how to be clutch? Probably not. All it really amounts to is a favorable distribution of offense in one season and an unfavorable distribution in another year. While being clutch may indeed be a skill, study after study after study shows that clutch stats aren’t meaningful or persistent.

That is not to say that “the human element” has absolutely no effect on Werth’s failure in clutch situations this year. Given Werth’s impending free agency, the heavy dose of criticism he has received recently, and the team’s overall offensive struggles, it is a real possibility that he was trying to do too much and pressed when in those situations. His K/PA is much higher in high-leverage situations than in medium- and low-leverage situations, according to Baseball Reference: .31 to .18 and .22 respectively. His ISO is also significantly lower: .168 to .222 and .259 respectively.

We don’t know for sure if this is truly the reason why Werth has struggled in clutch spots but it is not indicative of any legitimate flaw, especially considering just how good he has been offensively overall. There is no reason to think that Werth will continue to perform as badly in these situations going forward — after all, his BABIP with two outs/RISP is a paltry .107.

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18 comments

  1. BirmCori

    August 19, 2010 01:39 PM

    I wouldn’t go so far to say that the “the media and fan base decided they no longer enjoyed his presence.” Certain media, perhaps. Bandwagon fans, possibly, but I have season tickets in “his” section and can tell you, there are still PLENTY of people who enjoy his presence – and it’s not because he’s “pretty.” Fickle-ness runs rampant in Philly, apparently. But everyone wanting him gone is yesterday’s news. Can we find something else to pick on already? His slump is ending. Let it go already…

  2. hunter

    August 19, 2010 02:50 PM

    Certain media don’t especially like Werth because, from all accounts, he can be an a$$ to them. That’s his right, but if you’re an a$$ to the media, you better perform, because they’re certainly not going to give you favorable press when you’re struggling.

    I’m just sick and tired of hearing how the media has demonized Werth as if he’s a special case, when the reality is that the media all over comes down on jerky celebrities when they fail to entertain/perform.

  3. Phylan

    August 19, 2010 02:58 PM

    Certain media are completely irresponsible and reckless for tearing down a player in their outlets because they don’t like how he acts around them.

  4. hunter

    August 19, 2010 03:06 PM

    Phylan, regardless of whether or not you think it is irresponsible, it is undeniable that it happens. Even when people WANT to be impartial, they’re often subconsciously swayed by the attitudes/actions of the person in question.

    I guess I’m not suprised, shocked, or outraged that human nature is such that people are more favorable to people who are nice to them.

  5. MplsPhilsFan

    August 19, 2010 03:12 PM

    My guess is that part of the problem with Jayson is, much like Cole Hamels, memories of negative events tend to have a much stronger impact than positive ones. Both Hamels last year and Werth this year did not come through in key spots (irrespective of all the times they succeeded in similar situations) and reacted in ways that reinforced negative perceptions. Ain’t saying it is right, folks, but a lot of times one bad memory can help cancel out an awful lot of good ones

  6. hunter

    August 19, 2010 03:19 PM

    “Ain’t saying it is right, folks, but a lot of times one bad memory can help cancel out an awful lot of good ones”

    Mets fans still hate Carlos Beltran for looking at strike 3 in the NLCS.

  7. dan

    August 19, 2010 03:22 PM

    I understand BABIP luck for pitchers – they don’t control who’s hitting against them, but how much does luck account for a batters BABIP? Obviously there is some since its hard (but not impossible) to control where you hit the ball and fielders will make some spectacular plays to rob a player. But certainly a lot of it has to do with how hard the hitter hits the ball and what his GB/FB/LD ratios are. Isn’t there a metric that can account for (un)luck for a hitter? .107 BABIP seems way too low to solely be blamed on bad luck (not that I’m saying that that’s what you are doing).

    glad rube held on to him. maybe he’s smug for a reason (oh wait, C____ F#&$*#* L__).

  8. Phylan

    August 19, 2010 04:00 PM

    Whose denying that it happens? I’m saying they’re not doing their jobs properly.

  9. bill

    August 19, 2010 05:18 PM

    If you read the recent SI article about Werth you can probably see where the media hate stems from. Werth clearly doesn’t like talking to the media very much.

  10. eh

    August 19, 2010 05:30 PM

    Werth doesn’t hit in clutch, bc he doesn’t want to be in philly… duhhhh!!!!

  11. Dan

    August 19, 2010 07:02 PM

    Lol @ the above comment.

    Werth is Werth. He’s not the most clutch player on our roster, but he definitely has the ability to come through when it matters. As for Werth not wanting to be in Philly, I was watching SportsCenter a few days ago when they started talking about Oswalt. To my surprise, I heard the comment “I don’t know why anyone would not want to play in Philly anymore.” The amount of sellouts and how loud the fans cheer were cited as the main reasons why, while winning was also a bonus. I couldn’t believe my ears. I completely agree, but after all the Hate the media has sent our way, maybe they’re finally looking for a new villain?

  12. A cousin of the guy david slew

    August 19, 2010 10:03 PM

    ka-rist, Werth had his struggles, as did the rest of the team. Contemporaneously he acted badly w/a kid on a foul ball & was a bit surly w/the 4th estate. Because of that several negative articles were written, most likely by knuckleheads I suppose. I didn’t bother reading them. “Wisdom sets boundries, even for knowledge” someone wrote that, I can’t recall who, I’ve had a few watching the fellers shit the bed tonight w/a chance to gain a game against the Bravos. On top of that, Conventional wisdom was & is that the Phils can’t afford his upcoming contract that he well deserves. Because of the latter there were trade rumors & calls for a trade that fortunately didn’t happen. But all said, is this “hate”? Werth is gonna make his decision based on dollars & sense, commom sense, not on whether some writer or fan in philly was mean at him or some blogger or fan fawns over him as if he’s flawless. I can’t type anymore, my knuckles are already sore from dragging on the ground all day. Beat me up now, I’m grabbbing another cold one.

  13. CH Phan

    August 20, 2010 02:23 PM

    I wish ppl would step back & think how they’d feel in Werth’s position. Not much of what the public thinks or what they’re basing their opinion on makes factual sense. Why would a player want the fans to dislike him? It’s ridiculous. But it DOES MAKE A GREAT ARTICLE.

    Look at the numbers & read the article. Werth has been clutch for this team until the last maybe 2 mos (as Mr. Baer said, a small sample).

    I’d never base my opinion of Werth or anyone else on 1 article either, no matter the rep of the media outlet. I haven’t read the SI article & have no idea who wrote it but no writer is trustworthy enough or unbiased enough for that. My yrs of PR exp have told me so. I also suspect we likely have a case of ‘which came 1st: the media or Werth?’ I have a feeling The Media came 1st. We as the public have a habit of believing what we WANT rather than what is factually true, & what we want can fly in the face of reality. We rather happily deceive ourselves. Perhaps we WANT to dislike Werth b/c we think he’s leaving?

    The sudden dislike of Werth is interesting b/c ppl seem so absolute in their belief that he’s not good for the Phillies. But they’re just as absolute that he’s asking for, and will get, big $$ elsewhere. Why would he get big $$ if he were so incred worthless (no pun meant)?

    As beaten up by Phila media & fans as Werth must feel by now, it would be small wonder if he did want to leave. But from what he’s said that isn’t true. Barring the small RISP sample, I still think (and I think Charlie & Werth’s teammates would agree) losing him would be bad. It would also be lazy on the part of the front office. As much as everyone wanted him to be, Domonic Brown is not Werth’s replacement. He needs time & exp & he’s a lefty. Howard needs the large, strong, righty behind him in the line-up.

    The Phils can hang on to Werth: make him feel wanted by signing him soon, balance the yrs against the $$, & back-end the $$ (to save the club). Just a hunch he might do it. Will the FO do it? I hope so but who knows?

  14. MplsPhilsFan

    August 20, 2010 03:18 PM

    CH Phan, while I would love it, there is minimal chance for the Phillies to sign Werth. The Phillies have about $149 million in contracts for next year committed to 19 players. Assuming they sign mid to low level replacements to fill out tehir roster, you are looking at around a $153 million payroll.

    Even assuming they could somehow unload the contracts of Blanton and Ibanez (unlikely without eating a significant portion of them), there is little chance of constructing a contract with enough present value dollars to entice Werth to stay.

    The sooner we as Phillies fans realize that the odds of resigning Werth are slim to none, and appreciate him while we got him, the better

  15. BigDog

    August 21, 2010 06:35 AM

    I’ve seen much talk about the Phils payroll at ~150M but not much on how much the club makes. Sellouts for every game of the season and getting to the World Series for the past 2 years have got to be translating to a lot of income for the club (think merchandise sales). Why is it ludicrous to think the Phils can’t take on more salary? Are the BoSox going bankrupt?

  16. MplsPhilsFan

    August 21, 2010 07:49 AM

    BigDog, I used as my main source about the Phillies payroll from this article:

    phuturephillies.com/2010/05/08/the-economics-of-keeping-jayson-werth/

    Forgive me Bill, I occasionally cheat on you and visit other Phillies related sites….

    The author mkaes a pretty compelling case using the information on revenue streams that the Phillies ownership has maintained the payroll at a % of revenue around 59.5%.

    If we assume his data on revenue is correct (I have not verified) and his assumptions on potential increases in revenue streams based on historical trends of performance (going to or winning a World Series for example), the the Phillies payroll could rise to potentially the mid 150s depending on what happens this year

    It is not a question of comparing the Phillies to the Red Sox, it is more a matter of ownership having a defined business model on how much they are willing to spend and still achieve the profit margins they desire based on their revenue

  17. CH Phan

    August 23, 2010 11:36 AM

    Fortune Magazine published the financial stats on all the MLB clubs back in (I think) April. The Phillies were 3rd or 4th, if I’m remembering it right. Of course the Yankees were 1st. We should remember those financial accountings are the numbers the clubs are happy to let the public see. They’re keeping their profit margins up, way up, during a time when economically speaking the entire world’s population is struggling to make ends meet.

    So whenever I begin believing the PR hooey the front office puts out about ‘No money, no money, no money…’ I remember the majority owners live on the Mainline. I live in a 1-bedroom apt & pay rent that I can barely afford.

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