4 Keys to Nationals' Jayson Werth Rediscovering His Homer Bat
Jayson Werth is ready to incorporate the home run ball into his game a bit more this season and has already begun taking steps in that direction.
Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post reports that Werth is currently using his "homer bat" this spring—a bat which is one ounce heavier than the bat he used last season upon returning from wrist surgery.
Werth might be back to using the heavier bat now, but there are factors that will go a long way in determining whether he is capable of using the bat in the regular season.
He knows it will be a struggle, but Werth has said the "homer bat" is his preferred choice (via Kilgore): "It might still be too heavy once we get to the season. That’s the bat I usually hit all the homers with. That’s the bat I want to use."
Werth's biggest challenge this season will be handling the "homer bat" as his wrist continues to gain strength. It is imperative that the wrist bounces back to full strength if Werth realistically wants to use the heavier bat throughout the season.
If the wrist continues to act up on him, it might be beneficial for Werth to use the lighter bat and sacrifice his power to maintain a better average.
Making the Most of His Spot in the Lineup
Hitting ahead of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, Werth might be in one of the best lineup spots in all of baseball. With the possibility of over 90 total home runs in the three players after Werth, it is more than likely that he will see pitches to hit.
There will be no pitching around Werth with the lineup behind him, meaning he might be able to get a good amount of fastballs from the opposition. If Werth can get his fastball timing down, he might be on pace to a big home run season.
Werth has been able to keep his plate discipline consistent throughout the years. This will allow him to see more pitches and get a pitch favorable to his liking in his at-bats.
Last season, his swing percentage was 40.9 percent—on par with his career average of 40.2 percent, according to Fangraphs.com. His on-base percentage was 25 points higher than his career average as well in 2012, sitting at .387.
That swing percentage and above-average on-base percentage suggests that Werth will be able to get on base more without going after pitches more than he normally would.
Maintain a High Slugging Percentage
Despite playing in only 81 games last season, Werth hit 21 doubles, which is only five less than in the 2011 season when he played 150 games. That year, he was able to smash 20 home runs for the Nationals.
If Werth's numbers were prorated over an entire season last year, he would have hit 42 doubles. Only in one other season has he hit more than 26 doubles. The production in the doubles department shows that he has the capability still of getting his extra-base hits.
His .440 slugging percentage was 51 points higher than his slugging percentage in 2011, when he hit 20 home runs. With solid contact, plate discipline and an elevated slugging percentage, Werth might be on track to increase his home run totals in 2013.
An increasingly healthy wrist and protection in the lineup will certainly help Werth to prove that his "homer bat" is indeed back.