Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Scouting: Jayson Werth

Mike Rizzo said this week that he expects Jayson Werth to be ready by opening day. While this may not necessarily be true (given the Nationals’ recent issues rushing position players back too quickly), he is going to get the majority of innings in left field this year, so we will jump right into his scouting report.

The first thing that pops out to me is how many hard pitches Werth gets. I expected to see a lot of off-speed pitches, but Werth actually sees a majority of fastballs and sinkers: 60% from right handed pitchers and 53% from lefties. For comparison, Harper (we established his power was getting a lot respect from opposing pitchers) saw only 47% fastball/sinkers from left handed pitchers in the second half of 2014. Of course, the more hard stuff he sees, the fewer breaking pitches he sees. From lefties, he sees more change-ups than any other off-speed pitch, but only at a 14% clip. Against righties, the most popular off speed offering was a slider, but again only at a 14% rate. We established in his 2014 review that Werth’s power is down, and that is what I see playing out here in the scouting report. Yes, he is still a dangerous hitter, but opposing pitchers aren’t scared away from going to the hard stuff by his diminishing power. The league seems to have picked up on whatever is the source of Werth’s power outage and is attacking it head on. As Werth continues to age, I expect him to see this steady diet of fastballs/sinkers unless he proves he can turn on and punish a fastball.

Those fastballs and sinkers are, as you would expect, clustered on the outside corner. Pitchers did show some respect to Werth, though, as you can see below when you compare the fastballs from righties in the first half of the season to the second half:


In the first half, pitchers stuck in the strike zone with the fastballs. In the second half, though, you can see more pitches at the edges, especially away, and a lot of the fastballs started to creep out of the zone all together.

Lefties also threw a lot of fastballs/sinkers, and they follow the same pattern as the righties and kept on the outside corner and off the plate:

When Werth did get breaking pitches from right handers, it wasn’t a surprise what they were trying to do. The curves and sliders from right handers were all low and away from Werth:

Breaking pitches from left handers were a little less clustered, as some pitchers tried the backdoor slider/curve, but a majority of the breaking pitchers were still low and in: