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I contended that Jayson Werth was atrocious in the outfield. Said his arm looked like Adam Sandler's flap in Click. Was sure about it, too. If I was a gambling man, and had cash enough to let that settle itself, I'd have laid money that the numbers would back me.
Sure enough, they did. FanGraphs.com showed that Werth's career--starting in 2002 with Toronto, through his present-day $126 million green shackles in Washington--yielded a composite -2.8 ARM, -2.7 of which he tabbed in Philly, good for worst in team history of the stat. It was over, I figured. Not sure what self-effacing slice of humble pie you'll be stuffing youself with, but I'll be the zest of my sweet victory.
Then I poked around.
Didn't take long to figure that the scarlet -2.8 was his résumé at centerfielder--not his cozy spot in right. And once you saw the disparity in his numbers--he racked an aggregate 25.9 ARM over the years.
I knew there'd be an upswing; the positions aren't interchangeable, after all, and a corner outfielder's decision-making isn't a replica of the man in the middle's. They're different--different plays, different throws, and, seemingly, different outcomes.
But the discrepancy proved absurd, far stronger than I'd imagined. It also bolstered Toast's argument, that Werth was packing more than a .22 caliber up his right sleeve.
Still, I pushed back. While the article is entitled, "weakest arms in Phillies history," implying raw arm strength, it could easily be connoted to mean effectiveness. Did you read the plays? Could you make make the throws?
It seemed he did and could in right field.
But positions and demands and Werth's suitedness for them aside: The plate still got silty on Werth's watch. His Walther cost his team runs--if not games. That's got to be on Werth.
You can't even use the inconclusive sample size argument, given his comparably lesser duty in right. While he logged some 5,000-plus innings over 10 years in right, his 725 innings in left isn't too thin a sliver of duty to judge. Even then, while per-year averages of 72-plus innings might be a little lean, 194 and 171 are more-than-hefty a body of work for analysis.
Those two seasons, when he notched his Nos. 2 and 3 right field totals, Werth's wimpy arm docked -1.4 runs per season from team leads. He's got to be held accountable for that.
Plus, he's the only one who seems to experience the drop-off. While many of baseball's top ARMs haven't the plays for comparison--Nos. 1 and 2 Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur didn't clock enough innings outside their comfy left and right fields, respectively--Jose Bautista did, and with no perceptible dip.
In his only 300-plus inning seasons away from his conventional right field nook, Bautista's numbers held. That even translated across teams (he played 418 in center for the Pirates in 2006, and 322 with Toronto in 2009), even leagues. Slicing his 13 ARM aggregate six ways gives you a per-year ARM just over 2.0--about where he's at in both left (2.6 in 2009) and center (1.9 in 2006).
So if Bautista's pipe held, why didn't Werth's?
In the end, we call this one a push. Or at least a conditional exemption.
While cred for his defense from the right side is indelible--speaking of, Werth's 5.1 ARM is ranked No. 3 in baseball in 2011--he's got to get at least a little heckled for his atrocity in center, all things considered. Slap an asterisk on it.
And because we feel like it.