Washington Nationals fans became frustrated toward the end of the first half of the season at the production, or lack there of, from Jayson Werth. It’s understandable, Werth was given a lot of money to come to Washington this season and produce at an All-Star level, instead he has been one of the worst players statistically in the Nats’ lineup.
What many fans do not realize however, is that in terms of salary, Werth is making “only” $10 million in 2011. While that is still more than any other player on the roster is making this season, it’s far less than the $20+ million he is scheduled to make each season from 2014-17, and the total that many fans currently believe he is raking in this year.
Here is a look at other Nationals player’s salaries and their performances so far this season:
Jayson Werth -2011 Salary $10MM
Batting .215/.319/.362, 10 HR, 31 RBI, -4.2 UZR, 0.3 WAR
Ryan Zimmerman – 2011 Salary $8.95MM
Batting .254/.342/.408, 4 HR, 15 RBI, -2.9 UZR, 0.4 WAR
Jason Marquis – 2011 Salary $7.5MM
Pitching: 7-4, 4.05 ERA, 1.3 WAR
Adam LaRoche – 2011 Salary $7MM
Batting: .172/.288/.258, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 3.0 UZR, -0.2 WAR
Ivan Rodriguez – 2011 Salary $3MM
Batting: .214/.276/.325, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 2.0 UZR, 0.3 WAR
There is no question that Nats fans have a right to be upset over the poor performance of Jayson Werth, but a look at the numbers shows that Adam LaRoche is actually the poorest investment by the club this season. The first baseman hit just .172 this in 43 games before going down to injury, and despite solid defense around the bag, was essentially a black hole at the plate to start the year for the Nationals.
We now know that his poor performance was likely the result of a torn rotator cuff that was ignored through most of the spring. While LaRoche insisted the injury didn’t effect his hitting, eventually the Nats had to intervene when he was unable to raise his batting average above the Mendoza line.
Despite making 30% less than Werth, his season was ended with shoulder surgery and as a reslut he has no chance of improving his value to the team this season. Werth on the other hand has the entire second half to turn this campaign around. With a strong second half he at least has the opportunity to perform closer to the level expected from a player with a $100 million contract. LaRoche can only hope to come back and produce next year, when he’ll make a fresh $8 million.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of this situation is that LaRoche has been completely replaced by Mike Morse this season. While that is great news for the 2011 campaign, it raises a ton of questions for 2012. With LaRoche coming back and Chris Marrero both in line to vie for time at first base next year, coupled with the rise of Morse, there will be a serious log jam at the position. Will the Nationals be able to trade LaRoche if that’s what they decide to do? Will he be an $8 million backup? Or will they just eat his contract? Hopefully the second half of the season will bring some more answers.