Searching for Jayson Werth’s Weaknesses

Over at the Baseball Analytics blog, I did some digging in an attempt to find Jayson Werth‘s flaws, but came up empty-handed.

Oh, but Werth gets scarier. He compiled a .319 wOBA in two-strike counts during the 2010 season. The average hitter posted a .247 wOBA. Even when the pitcher is fortunate enough to get ahead of Werth, he still has a veritable mountain to climb before he can claim success. Bad news for pitchers everywhere, but especially for those wearing Phillies red.

The Nationals may have overcommitted and overpaid Werth, but they did sign one heck of a hitter.

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14 comments

  1. Kyle

    December 06, 2010 08:08 PM

    What about the .186 ba with risp…maybe a good hitter…but clutch, I don’t think so. He also strikes out quite a bit….he got his money along with seven upcoming years of losing seasons. Good luck jayson.

  2. Bill Baer

    December 06, 2010 08:12 PM

    RISP isn’t a useful statistic at all. He put up a .918 OPS with RISP in 2009. Had the public been aware of that going into 2010 they’d have crowned him the RISP master.

    Strikeouts aren’t as detrimental as you think, either. I’ll gladly take Werth’s elite offensive capabilities with his strikeouts over almost any other hitter with a lower K-rate (Albert Pujols is one notable but extremely rare exception).

  3. Scott G

    December 06, 2010 08:15 PM

    Bill,

    I was having a discussion with a Red Sox fan recently about how excited he was about Werth possibly signing there. He said he didn’t want Werth all that much. His reasoning? He doesn’t do well away from home. Which I researched both 2010 numbers and career, and it seems he was right.

    Does this mean all that much?

  4. Bill Baer

    December 06, 2010 08:21 PM

    Using wOBA…

    Year Home Away
    2007 0.381 0.388
    2008 0.375 0.389
    2009 0.390 0.374
    2010 0.434 0.362

    Looks like just one outlier (2010) is giving the appearance that Werth is a CBP wonder.

  5. Scott G

    December 06, 2010 08:47 PM

    I wish baseball-reference had wOBA readily available. Sorry for that haha

  6. Pete

    December 07, 2010 01:48 AM

    Hi Bill,

    Could you please explain why “RISP isn’t a useful statistic at all”?

    It seems that the unstated argument in your post is that a statistic that fluxuates from year-to-year is not useful. So if wOBA for a particular player fluxuated year-to-year (is that possible?), would we say that wOBA is not a useful statistic, or would we say that the player is flawed (i.e., lacks consistency)?

    Please help me if I missed the boat here.

    And thanks as always for a great blog!

  7. Bill Baer

    December 07, 2010 03:11 AM

    Studies have shown that hitters have very little ability to hit better when runners are in scoring position. One study did say that it’s likely that the skill does exist. However, the effect of that skill is likely to be drowned out by statistical noise and randomness.

    BA w/ RISP, over a sufficient period of time, is likely to hover around the player’s career batting average.

  8. JR

    December 07, 2010 08:48 AM

    Werth’s stats with RISP over the last three years are interesting. His OBP is actually 3 points higher than when no one is on base. However, his average and SLG are 50 points and 129 points lower, respectively.

    This would seem to explain his lack af RBI production relative to his other offensive stats over the last three years. Wouldn’t this be considered, at least, a small negative.

    In addition, all other things being equal, isn’t a single normally more valuable to a team than a walk/HBP with runners in scoring position since a single will normally drive in more runs Do any stats consider this?

    Thanks for any comments.

  9. Richard

    December 07, 2010 09:04 AM

    Another thought re: RISP and its popular association with “clutch”. Why is getting on base not considered clutch? This occurred to me in a major way last season, with respect to Werth in fact. Amidst all those late inning rallies, he was always on base, scoring ahead of others’ “clutch” hits. I mean, I get it, it’s easier to remember the guy who gets the hit than the guy who scores the run, but this idea just gets waved away by the RISP crowd.

  10. Xyz

    December 07, 2010 11:18 AM

    As I’m sure we all saw, Werth has a considerable weakness to Brett Myers sticking his tongue out at him.

  11. George Scheide

    December 07, 2010 11:56 AM

    Having watched hundreds of games Werth played in, I noticed he gets to the wall for deep flies but regularly misses balls he jumps for. He is usually offline somehow. Honestly, with his struggles with RISP, I thought he’d have been a great leadoff or two hole hitter. Many of the rallies they had were with him leading off in a late inning.

  12. Scott G

    December 07, 2010 02:13 PM

    he must have forgotten how to hit with RISP last year!!

    JR, wOBA accounts for the weights of each outcome. So yes, a 1B is more valuable than a BB.

    Maybe that stat about his OBP being higher despite a lower BA (and also SLG) means that pitchers were pitching around him to get to Ibanez (perfectly possible). Maybe he swung at pitches he should have taken which resulted in outs.

  13. bill

    December 08, 2010 02:33 PM

    The one thing I’ll miss about Werth is how awesome he was at taking pitches and working counts. The guy was among the league leaders at pitchers per plate appearance every year.

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