Washington Nationals' Jayson Werth Earned $126 Million with His Walk off Shot

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IOctober 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11:  Jayson Werth (L) #28 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with his teammates as he jumps on home plate to score on his solo game-winning walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Four of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 11, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Jayson Werth finally has an answer to all the critics who think he is overpaid.

In Game 4 of the NL Division Series, he lived up to his last name and showed his worth, powering the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the World Champion Cardinals and forcing a deciding Game 5.

Whenever sports writers make lists of the worst contracts in baseball, inevitably the $126 million seven-year deal the Washington Nationals gave Jayson Werth makes the cut.

Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski lists Werth as the ninth worst contract in baseball. Scott M. Campbell of the Huffington Post has Werth as the worst deal in the game.

And this is not 20/20 hindsight. Writers have trashed the deal from the start. Keith Law of ESPN.com called the deal "irresponsible" and felt it was a "panic move" by the Nationals to look relevant to their fans.

His numbers have been far from his own career average, let alone worthy of an elite player's contract. And he has five more years left in this deal.

So no matter what, the deal will never be a complete success.

But Werth was brought in for more reasons than just big bat and power. The Nationals needed a change of culture after being a consistent loser and a few 100-loss seasons thrown in for good measure.

They needed someone who had been on the big stage and come through.

Which lead the Nats to today.

A 2-2 tie and the potential for the season to be over. Up came the man who was brought in to tell Washington fans that things were going to be different.

And with one swing, no Nationals fan was thinking about injuries or sub par OPS or five years left. All they will remember is a walk off homer that was Washington DC's first home post season victory since Game 3 of the 1933 World Series.

Werth in a way is in a similar spot as J. D. Drew with the Red Sox. Drew's contract was bloated, too long and a relief when it was done. But many Sox fans shushed Drew's critics by reminding them that Boston would not have won the 2007 World Series if not for Drew's tension relieving Game 6 of the ALCS Grand Slam.

ESPN's Bill Simmons called it the "$14 million grand slam."

Drew also provided several big post season heroics in the 2008 playoffs as well.

So Jayson Werth's contract might never be totally a solid investment. But if the idea of the signing was to bring some poise and experience to October, then they got some value. (How did I avoid ending with another "Werth/worth" pun?)