You look at Jayson Werth's .244 spring average after 15 games and you are probably thinking he is headed for another down campaign. But the numbers you need to be focusing on are his four homers, .610 slugging percentage and .921 OPS.
Last year, Matt Kemp and Pablo Sandoval were two of my favorite bounce-back candidates and they didn't disappoint. I think I'm ready to jump on the Werth bandwagon heading into 2012.
I think Werth had a lot of factors going against him in 2011. The stress of going into the first year of a mega contract probably wasn't easy, and when everything started to spiral out of control, Werth probably felt overwhelmed, which he probably would never admit.
Other factors going against him were he left a loaded Phillies lineup and joined a Washington lineup that didn't have its best player -- Ryan Zimmerman -- for a good chunk of the season. I think Werth is in a better position heading into 2012 because the pressure should now be on Zimmerman and 2011 breakout player Michael Morse to carry the Nationals offense. It's like when Werth was in Philadelphia. He was batting behind the likes of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and he was almost like an under-the-radar bat.
But the real reason I'm on the Werth bandwagon is that he has changed his approach at the plate. Werth has always been a patient hitter. He usually takes a bunch of pitches and that has worked for years. But Werth realizes something has to change coming off a down year and this spring he has shown a more aggressive approach at the plate. At the urging of manager Davey Johnson, Werth is swinging at more first-pitch fastballs and his confidence seems to be growing.
I'm not saying reach for Werth, but he's going on average in the middle rounds of Draft Day and I think he's going to outproduce his draft position this year. I'm saying he's Werth the price.