Who Should Start in Washington Nationals' Outfield When Jayson Werth Returns?

Robert Wood@@bleachRWreachrCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 03:  Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals warms up before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on May 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth is set to return soon from a broken left wrist suffered on May 6.  

But he will be returning to a very crowded outfield.  

Regulars such as Michael Morse, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina have been joined by rookie sensation Bryce Harper.  And fellow rookies Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore have fit into the mix quite nicely despite both being natural infielders.  

So who should start in the Nationals' outfield when Jayson Werth returns?  

Let's go position by position, with a thorough evaluation of each player.  

LEFT FIELD: Michael Morse.  The Beast is back.  The Washington Nationals starting left fielder didn't debut until June 1, but he's hitting his stride at the plate.  He is currently batting .282 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 131 at-bats. 

Morse is not the Nationals best defensive option in left field.  That would be Roger Bernadina.  But Michael is a capable left fielder in his own right. 

He is perfect this season in only three total chances, and in his career at left field he has a .991 fielding percentage in 113 total chances with five assists and two double plays.  Michael Morse has a big arm and a big bat, and so he earns the starting nod. 

CENTER FIELD: Bryce Harper.  The 19-year-old All-Star is still learning the position, and is not yet at the same defensive level as Rick Ankiel.  Bryce has a .975 fielding position in center field with no assists in 79 total chances, while Ankiel has a .983 fielding percentage in center field with two assists in 119 total chances. 

But Harper is a quick study, and he plays with a reckless abandon that can turn the tide of a game.  And he might have the best arm in the entire Nationals outfield, which is quite an accomplishment. 

Plus, Harper brings an offensive dimension to the position that no other Nationals' center fielder can provide.  He is currently hitting .283 in 244 at-bats with eight home runs and 25 RBI.  Bryce also has 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts. 

RIGHT FIELD: Jayson Werth.  The former Philadelphia Phillies star is a good enough athlete to play center field, and saw some time there last season for the Nats.  But his natural position is right field, and he has the requisite arm strength for that position. 

His familiarity with right field his reflected in his season stats to this point, as he is perfect in 53 total chances, with one assist and one double play.  And before getting injured, Werth was hitting .276 in 98 at-bats with three home runs and 12 RBI. 

Jayson is also an opportunistic if not overly aggressive base stealer, swiping all three bases he attempted to steal. 

That's a pretty good outfield, with two pairs of center field legs and three right field arms. 

So if opposing batters can somehow find a gap in the Nationals outfield, they'll be lucky to make it safely to the next base.