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Washington Nationals: Looking back at Jayson Werth

Former Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth announced that he was done with baseball on Wednesday, leaving behind an interesting legacy.

Washington Nationals Looking back at Jayson Werth

Even without using the word ‘retirement,’ former Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is walking away from baseball. He had been grinding out the days in the Seattle Mariners system, hoping to return to the majors one last time. However, hamstring injuries, and a disappointing .209/.297/.389 batting line in 145 plate appearances at AAA, were enough to tell him that it was time to walk away.
In his wake, Werth leaves behind an interesting legacy in baseball. He had been a highly touted prospect, drafted 22nd overall by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1997 MLB Amateur Draft. Werth spent time in the Orioles and Blue Jays organizations before making his debut with the Dodgers in 2002, moving from behind the plate to the outfield. While he did have his moments in Los Angeles, such as when he belted 16 homers in 326 plate appearances in 2004, he appeared to be another top prospect that failed to live up to his potential.

After missing the entire 2006 campaign with two torn wrist ligaments, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. There, he became a star, moving from a reserve role to being the Phillies primary right fielder. He was a big part of their World Series winning squad in 2008, and made his only All Star Game the following year. In 2010, Werth led the National League with 46 doubles, and finished eighth in the NL MVP vote.

Signed by the Nationals to a seven year deal worth $125 million, he was expected to help guide the franchise to relevance. Instead, he disappointed in his first season, hitting at a meager .232/.330/.389 clip with 20 homers and only 58 RBI. Although he got off to a solid start the following year, Werth injured himself making a catch, breaking his wrist and giving an opportunity to Bryce Harper to get into the lineup. As Harper emerged as a star, Werth was shuttled over to left, where he remained for most of his tenure.

Although he was never quite the star the Nats hoped for, Werth did what he was brought to Washington to do. He was a solid middle of the order bat, hitting 109 homers and producing a .263/.355/.433 batting line. But he made more of an impact than those numbers suggest.

In Werth, the Nationals got a veteran player who had been through it all. He was a former top prospect, a player who had tasted failure. He knew how to win, being a part of that impressive Phillies run in the late 2000s. Werth knew the agony of missing an entire season due to injury, the rigors of the grueling rehab process. And along the way, the Nationals went from being also-rans to the leading franchise in the NL East. They may not have advanced beyond the first round, but Werth was a key part in getting them to this level.

Jayson Werth may not be a Hall of Fame player, but he made a definite impact on the Washington Nationals. Even if his stats were not what the fanbase hoped for, he provided the franchise with exactly what they wanted.

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