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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is Werth Right? 

With Aaron Rowand now a member of the San Francisco Giants the Phillies are going to shift their outfielders for 2008, moving former rightfielder Shane Victorino to centerfield and moving Jayson Werth up from the bench to start in rightfield. While Phillies fans are no doubt wailing over Rowand’s loss, they should take heart: the addition of Werth will likely make the Phillies outfield better, all while being cheaper.

Werth, the Baltimore Orioles first-round pick in the 1997 Draft, had a long history in the minors before eventually making his MLB debut. After being picked by the Orioles, Werth was eventually dealt north of the border to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he made his MLB debut in 2002. After injuries limited his playing time, Werth found his way to Los Angeles where he played for the Dodgers in 2004 and 2005. Werth hit 16 home runs and 47 RBIs in limited action with the Dodgers in 2004.

Werth found his way to the Phillies as a free agent during the 2006-2007 off-season. In 2007 Werth initially played as a pinch-hitter but soon found himself mixed into the Phillies lineup as a defensive replacement, replacing Pat Burrell in leftfield several times, and finally getting some time in rightfield with the injuries to Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino later in the year.

The performance that Werth turned in was impressive. In just 255 At-Bats, Werth managed to hit eight home runs and 49 RBI. His On-Base Percentage* was a robust .404. Werth is a terrific hitter with terrific plate discipline. In 2007, he was 4.6 pitches per plate appearance. This was easily the best on the Phillies roster, even better than Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard (4.2 each). This is the kind of hitter you want in your lineup - always working the count, getting on base, wearing the pitcher down.

* On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)

Werth also batted .379 with runners in scoring position, again the best on the Phillies. In many respects, Werth was the Phillies most productive hitter. Check out runs created per 27 Outs:

Werth: 8.11
Utley: 7.88
Howard: 7.76
Burrell: 6.54
Rollings: 6.25
Rowand: 5.88
Victorino: 4.87

Runs Created (RC): A stat originally created by Bill James to measure a player’s total contribution to his team’s lineup. Here is the formula: [(H + BB + HBP - CS - GIDP) times ((S * 1.125) + (D * 1.69) + (T * 3.02) + (HR * 3.73) + (.29 * (BB + HBP – IBB)) + (.492 * (SB + SF + SH)) – (.04 * K))] divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH+ SF).
RC/27: Runs Created per 27 outs, essentially what a team of 9 of this player would score in a hypothetical game.

Interestingly, despite having 304 plate appearances in 2007, Werth never once grounded into a double play. Rowand grounded into 18.

Seen this way, the Phillies offense would function better with Werth than with Rowand, but let's look at fielding, where Rowand is supposed to be a Gold Glover. Who was the better fielder? This is a little tough, because Werth is taking over right and Rowand played center, but I think a case can be made that the Phillies new alignment will be stronger. Victorino is a talented outfielder with a terrific arm. When he played centerfield in 2006, after Rowand got hurt, he actually played better, with a perfect fielding percentage and greater range.

Victorino played well in rightfield in 2007, but Werth was pretty good. In terms of arms, Werth notched 7 assists in 2007 in rightfield in just 446 innings of work. Victorino, who finished second in the N.L. in assists amongst RF's, had 10 in double the innings.

Dave Pinto's Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR) also rates Werth the best RF in all of baseball in 2007, with a 114.32 ratio ... What is PMR, you might ask? I was afraid you would. Basically it takes a model of outs a player should have made, vs. what they really did. The difference between them is divided so that a score above 100 means they did better than expected, while a score below 100 means they did worse. Werth's 114.32 was by far the best in the major leagues. Victorino's 108.72 was second. Rowand had a 99.27.

In the final analysis, the Phillies might be better off with Rowand gone and his $12 million dollar committed toward bolstering the Phillies rotation and bullpen. Werth, if he plays close to his 2007 level, will wow Phillies fans in 2008 with terrific hitting and great fielding. Watch, he'll be great.

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I'd like to see the Phillies give Werth a full shot. Sit him vs. tough righties and give Dobbs some time out there depending on the 3rd base situation. I just think Werth needs to get his at bats and he'll perform well. -
I thought I was imagining things. Thanks for the stats.

I like this guy for the same reason I like this team... they are fun to watch and full of the excitement that is needed to win.
Rowand had the highest fielding average. Victorino, Werth, Jenkins, Cameron all had a fielding average of 987-988%. Cameron and Jenkins both had 7 assists so they have good arms and good fielding. Just some thoughts if they are added this year. Werth also has a good eye as he walks a good bit with less SO than Burrell, ROwand, Jenkins, and Cameron.
Good post on the runs produced, I knew he did well last year but he is definetely did better than everyone else. Granted it was mostly against favorable pitching match ups for him.
Werth will be very good for the Phil's. I like the OF right now, Jenkins or Cameron I am not sure how they will help, both high K rates. I like Golson possibly taking over Bourn's role. With what they have and Snelling, I wonder why they go for another OF. Take that Money and go get some pitching, or 3B. Please can people stop talking about Dobbs in the OF, he is not good there, unless he plays a lot during spring training he is not an OF, it is harder than most think.
Phils looking to upgrade the OF and pitching!

Phillies signed Jenkins..

The signing of Jenkins will improve the outfield greatly. He will provide the strong LH bat with power, while adding someone with a strong arm and solid defense.
Came upon this article on the "All-Overpaid Team" for current players it seems. Pretty decent list, could use a few minor tweaks.


I would like to see your comments on what drugs were legal and when they became illegal.

The term performance enhancing make me crazy. Gatorade is performance enhancing.

Where did this term come from?? Does it designate anything officially??

How does a doc's prescription change what is legal?? Can youn still take a steroid idf prescribed and be legal according to MLB rules??

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