Is Jayson Werth the new Jason Bay?

Jayson Werth is now a member of the Nationals.  I read a quote from Sandy Alderson, GM of the Mets, stating that Werth’s contract makes some of the Mets bad contracts look good.  When I heard that, I began to wonder which one he was talking about.  Could it be Oliver Perez?  Maybe.  Could it be Luis Castillo? Possibly.  But, I thought Alderson was referring to the Jason Bay contract.  Jason Bay is in the midst of a 4 year, $66 million contract.  He is due to make $16 million from 2011 through 2013 with a club option for 2014 (or an option guarantee for at-bats in a combination of years.)

The Werth contract will average out to $18 per season for 7 seasons, but the questions that everyone are asking is why and is he really “Werth” it (sorry, I had to do that somewhere in the article).

From 2002 to 2006, Werth was in Toronto, Los Angeles (NL) and one year in Philadelphia.  He had played in roughly 300 total games in those 5 seasons, never hitting more than 16 home runs and never driving in 50 runs.  In 2008, Werth played in 134 games, hit 24 home runs, drove in 67, had an OPS of .863 and had a nice playoff run while the Phillies won the World Series.

In his last two seasons combined, Werth hit 63 home runs, with 72 doubles, 184 runs batted in, 317 hits and scored over 200 runs.  In 2010, he hit .296 missing his career high by .002.  The question becomes, is Werth “that good” or is he a product of the quality around him.  In 2009, Werth was the 5th hitter, behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and hitting in front of Raul Ibanez.  In 2010, those players combined for over 60 home runs, 250 runs batted in, 400 hits and 230 runs scored.  The same three players around him in 2009 combined for over 100 home runs, 320 runs batted in, 460 hits and 300 runs scored.  Werth fit in well with his numbers listed above.

In 2009, the Nationals had Nick Johnson batting second, Ryan Zimmerman hitting third, Elijah Dukes hitting fifth.  Adam Dunn, no longer with the Nationals, batted forth and it is assumed Werth will fill that role.  Those three players combined for over 40 home runs, 150 runs batted in, 350 hits and 190 runs scored.  This past season, three different players batted second, Ryan Zimmerman was the third place hitter and Josh Willingham was the player that batted fifth the most.  Those FIVE players combined for over 50 home runs, 260 runs batted in, 470 hits and 300 runs scored.  You can see the definitive difference between the Nationals and the Phillies.

So, the question must be asked.  Without the supporting members (or lead cast members) around him, how will Jayson Werth be affected?  Will he be the next Jason Bay?  Why Jason Bay?  Let’s take a look at some statistics.

Before he signed as a free agent with the new York Mets, Bay was a member of the Red Sox and before that was a member of the Pirates.  In 2008, he split the season between the two clubs and in 2009, he was exclusive property of the Red Sox.  He played in 151 games each season.  Between the two years combined, he scored over 200 runs, had nearly 300 hits, over 40 doubles, over 65 home runs, over 200 runs batted in and an OPS nearly .900.

In his last season in Pittsburgh, he was surrounded by players such as Adam LaRouche with his 25 home runs, Nate McLouth and his 26 home runs, 46 doubles and 94 runs batted in.  Also on the club was Ryan Doumit, with a .318 batting average and 15 more home runs.  Before being traded, Bay had 22 home runs, 64 runs batted in and 72 runs scored in just over 100 games.  Yes, bay was an All-Star in Pittsburgh, but he was languishing in Pittsburgh and the trade to the red Sox seemed to bring him to another level.

The 2009 Red Sox was a star studded lineup that featured Bay.  Those Red Sox had Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz.  Bay led that team in home runs, runs batted in, was second in runs scored and had his best statistical season ever.

Coming off that season, Bay became a free agent and signed the third largest contract of the 2009 free agent period (behind Matt Holliday and John Lackey).  His 2010 left something to be desired for Mets fans.  First of all, he was injured for the later part of the year after running face first into an outfield wall.  He played in only 95 games.  Because of those injuries, Bay failed to score 50 runs, had less than 100 hits, only 6 home runs, 47 runs batted in and had a batting average under .260.  it was by far the worst statistical year of his career.  Even if you assume a full season for his statistics, Bay would not have measured up to his previous years.

He was never really set in the lineup.  He started the year as the cleanup hitter, being protected by Jeff Francouer and Mike Jacobs.  When Jose Reyes was moved to the number three spot, Bay was protected by David Wright.  Bay was bounced around the rest of the season before he was injured and never really fit in the Mets lineup.  He was expected to bring power to Flushing and did not bring much.  The excitement expected to be brought by Bay was actually brought by newcomers Ike Davis and Angel Pagan.

Bay’s first year of the big contract was one to be forgotten.  Hopefully he can rebound and show he was worth his contract.  Will Jayson Werth?  Or, will he be this year’s Jason Bay.  We will soon find out.

Tags: , , , ,