Jayson Werth Player Projection No. 85

Key Stats: Last season was certainly a disappointing year for Jayson Werth, but more eyebrows were raised after he signed his 7 year $126 million contract than they were when he fell 195 spots in the rankings. Werth was supposed to come apart a little last year because of the pressure of the contract and his inflated 2010 season by the numbers. That 2010 season saw him have a .352 BABIP (about 30 points higher than his career BABIP) and saw him finish with a career high 45% fly ball rate as he moved from an above average home run hitting park to an average one.

Skeptics Say: Werth will be 33 in May. That’s officially past your prime as a ball player, so he will never come close to being a top twenty kind of player again. There also wasn’t really a stretch where Werth demonstrated he was capable of carrying a fantasy team last year. He did not hit over .300 in any month and did not hit more than 4 home runs in any month. If he gets hurt even for a two week time period this year, he will have a hard time achieving this preseason ranking.

Peer Comparison: Although he doesn’t have the longevity of Torii Hunter as an upper tier fantasy baseball outfielder, the two produce the same benefits statistically. They are both right around 20/20 production and should hit north of .260 but south of .280. Here’s what Hunter did in his 32 and 33 year-old seasons:

R

HR

RBI

AVG

SB

OBP

AGE

85

21

78

.278

19

.344

32

74

22

90

.299

18

.366

33

Similar to Werth, Hunter was playing his first season with his new team at age 32, and still held it together in his age 33 season. There were signs though that he was starting to come apart that aren’t included in these numbers. Hunter had 11 less doubles and missed a month more action than he had the season before.

Werth could see a similar spike in his RBI assuming that the rest of the core hitters can stay healthy next year.

Team Outlook: Ryan Zimmerman missed the equivalent of two months of action which probably put too much pressure on Werth who was already under the gun as the team’s highest paid player. If Michael Morse is 80% of the player he was a year ago and Zimmerman is 100% of the player he was in 2009 and 2010, the Nationals have a great 3-4-5 combination.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #38 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of  ESPN.com: #26 Outfielder & #83 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #97 Overall; RotoChamp: #152 Overall

Projection: Last year wasn’t that bad in truth. Werth hit 20 home runs and stole 19 bases. A slight increase in average will happen this season after the BABIP came crashing down. There’s a happy medium, and it’s happening this season.