Has Jayson Werth been unlucky?

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Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote an interesting column looking at some statistics which seem to indicate that Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth has been unlucky this season. While Werth sports a respectable .277/.363/.407 slash line with five home runs and 20 RBI, they’re not quite where they have been since he broke out with the Phillies in 2008.

Werth has had a few hard-hit balls memorably caught, including this homer-robbing grab by Mets outfielder Juan Lagares. Kilgore also recalls a 420-foot smash to Tal’s Hill in Houston, and a well-struck fly ball on a cold April night against the Marlins. Digging more into the numbers, Kilgore writes:

But, based on the contact he has made, Werth could be having a great year, one of the best in the league. His highlight tape would be a maelstrom of warning track fly balls, blistered line drives into gloves and other assorted smoldering outs. According to ESPN statistician Mark Simon, a subjective video tracking service ranks Werth fourth in the majors in at-bats that ended with hard contact.

The most telling figure about Werth’s hard luck: Major league hitters have collectively batted .661 when they hit a line drive, per Baseball-Reference.com. Werth is hitting only .435 on his line drives.

If Werth’s batting average on his 46 liners matched the league average, it would give him an extra 10 hits and boost his overall batting average from .277 to .333. His overall on-base percentage would climb from .363 to .412.

Werth overall has a .321 batting average on balls in play, which seems good, but it’s ten points below his career average and it’s about 35 points below his BABIP in each of the last two seasons. He’s hitting fly balls at his highest rate — 44 percent — since joining the Nationals but has only the five home runs to show out of 63 fly balls hit. In his three prior seasons with the Nats, Werth hit 50 home runs on 397 fly balls, a rate of about eight fly balls per home run. Based on that rate, we would expect Werth to have eight homers presently.

There’s some compelling evidence to the “bad luck” explanation for Werth’s comparatively pedestrian numbers thus far. Thankfully for Werth, there are four months of baseball left, which is plenty of time for things to turn around.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays in part of three-team deal

Tampa Bay Rays
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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.