It might have gotten overlooked a little bit last night because of some of the weird plays that went on in the Nationals’ 4-3 win over the Marlins, but Jayson Werth continued to rake, homering again to give him 20 longballs on the season.
It also might have gotten overlooked because, well, Werth raking is pretty much just commonplace at this point.
After his effort last night, Werth is now batting .324 with a .403 on-base percentage and .530 slugging percentage this season, leading the Nats in all three categories by a fairly wide margin. Since July 1, a span of 50 games, Werth is batting an insane .380/.471/.626.
He’s doing it all - seeing lots of pitches, reaching base, hitting for power and driving in runs in clutch moments. He won the National League Player of the Month award for July, and almost surely will win it again for August.
“He’s playing unbelievable,” Ian Desmond said. “This is the Jayson I remember playing against in Philadelphia. The grinding type at-bats, a lot of balls hit on the barrel. Working the count.”
“I’m glad I don’t have to face him anymore,” Drew Storen said. “Whether he gets out or not - which more times than not, he’s not right now, which is great - he puts together quality at-bats and really makes a pitcher work. Which, when we faced him before, was something that was pretty irritating on our end. But it’s a lot of fun. It sets a great example, too, for the rest of the lineup, when you’ve got a guy out there who is all about quality ABs. He’s doing an incredible job.”
Werth doesn’t really like talking about his hot streak, citing the superstitious aspect of his game. You don’t discuss what’s going right for fear of it starting to go wrong.
But Werth has made some adjustments over the last couple of months, putting his hands higher and standing more upright before a pitch is delivered. It’s gotten him back closer to the stance he had when he was with the Phillies, and the change has paid off.
There’s also the health aspect, which can’t be overstated either. Werth’s broken right wrist has now had plenty of time to heal since the initial injury last May, and he also has gotten past a hamstring issue that put him on the DL for a month earlier this season.
While he might not prefer to break down what’s going right or start going big-picture and comparing this season to previous big years he’s put up, Werth is willing to acknowledge that this is the most like himself he’s felt since signing with the Nationals in the offseason before the 2011 campaign.
“I’d say that’s fair,” he said. “Even last year, I was dealing with some circumstances with the wrist. I think right before I did get injured, I was starting to get rolling and feel pretty good. But I would say ever since I came back from the DL, I’ve been feeling more like myself and I think the type of player that I knew I was. In the end, that’s what brought me to Washington. I feel good, we’ve just got to keep it going.”
Werth is enjoying this personal hot streak, but he’s getting more satisfaction out of the way the Nats as a whole have been playing the last few weeks. They’re now 13-5 in their last 18 games, which is great and all, but Werth isn’t blind to the fact that the Nats have their work cut out for them over the final month of the season. In order to turn this into any type of legitimate run, the Nats will need to keep this pace up (if not even a better pace) over the final 30 regular season games.
“We’ve got to continue to play like this the rest of the way,” Werth said. “And that’s fine. It is what it is. We’ve kind of made the bed, so we’re going to have to sleep in it. But we’ve got a chance. We’ve got a heartbeat. ...
“It’s starting to snowball a little bit. You can feel it. It’s too bad that we waited this long to put it together. But like I said, we may be down, but we’re not out. We’re giving ourselves a chance here. We just need to keep playing the type of ball we’ve been playing. We’re capable of playing to that type of level. We’re not out of it.”