How a Red Hot Jayson Werth Will Impact the Nationals in Potential Playoff Run

Robert WoodCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 20: Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a double against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Nationals Park on August 20, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Jayson Werth missed 76 games for the Washington Nationals this season with a broken wrist, suffered on May 6. 

He finally returned on August 2 and since then, he has been red hot. Jayson is hitting .333 with two home runs and 14 RBI since coming back to the lineup, with 11 doubles and 61 total bases. 

With Jayson Werth playing as well as he is, how will he impact the Washington Nationals in a potential playoff run? 

For starters, Jayson Werth may have ended the team's long search for a lead-off man. He was inserted into the top spot in the order on August 11, and has batted in that spot in 16 of the 23 games he has played in since then. 

A quick glance at Jayson's power numbers and past positions in the lineup make him seem like an odd fit at the top of the order, but Jayson has in fact been a perfect fit. He has 15 walks since his return, with only 22 strikeouts. As a result, Jayson has a .404 OBP since August 2. In the month of August alone, he had a .435 OBP. 

And when Jayson gets on base, he scores. He has 25 runs scored since coming back, giving him 35 for the season for a run scoring percentage of 32%, equal to his career average. 

Jayson scores so many runs because he is such a smart baserunner, knowing when to be aggressive. Werth has only four stolen bases on the year, but he has yet to be caught stealing. And this is nothing new for Jayson. For his career, he has stolen only 100 bases, but has been caught stealing a mere 14 times, giving him an astounding stolen base percentage of 88%. 

And Jayson Werth is an aggressive baserunner beyond stealing bases, as well. This season, he has taken an extra base on a single or double 37% of the time. Furthermore, he has taken seven bases on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks or defensive indifference, and has recorded no outs on base in these same situations. 

All this has helped awaken the sleeping giant that is the Nationals offense. Slowed throughout the season by injuries to key contributors, including Werth, Michael Morse, Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond, the Nats' bats lay mostly dormant. But Werth has helped to wake them from their slumber, and now the lineup as a whole is wide awake. Since August 2, the Nats have outscored their opponents 193-138, and have gone 25-12 in that span, through Sunday's game. 

An offense like this would be a scary proposition for opposing teams during the playoffs. The Nats already have the best team ERA in the NL at 3.32, and are fourth in the NL with 81 team errors.  Combining a potent offense with their stellar pitching and defense would make them nearly unbeatable.  As of right now, they are fourth in the NL in runs scored with 635. 

And the playoffs is exactly where a red hot Jayson Werth will be most valuable. The majority of Washington's starting position players have never played in MLB's postseason. This list includes Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Kurt Suzuki, Michael Morse and Bryce Harper. So the Nats will count on Jayson's postseason experience. 

Werth has played 44 playoff games in his 10-year career. This includes three NLCS appearances, two World Series appearances, and one World Series title. For his playoff career, Jayson is hitting .268 with 13 home runs and 26 RBI, with a .379 OBP and five stolen bases in five attempts. During the 2008 World Series, Werth hit .444 with a home run and three RBI, to go with a whopping .583 OBP and three stolen bases as he helped the Phillies bring a World Series title to Philadelphia for the first time in 28 years. 

And now in 2012, a red hot Jayson Werth can help the Nationals bring a World Series title to Washington for the first time in 88 years. 

That would be quite an impact.