What to Watch for: 9.4.13
Washington Nationals (71-68) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (63-76)
RHP Jordan Zimmermann (15-8, 3.33) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (2-4, 7.94)
It wasn’t until this week that Jayson Werth finally amassed enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, his name suddenly appearing in the middle of stat packs across the National League. Perhaps that’s part of the reason his season, at age 34, has flown under the radar to some degree. But if Werth can continue to stay hot over the season’s final three weeks, he may etch his name into the baseball history books.
Entering play on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, following his team-leading 40th multi-hit game of the season on Tuesday, Werth was batting .321, just nine points off the league lead, held by the Braves Chris Johnson. But back to those multi-hit games – Werth has only played in 106 contests this season, due to a few lingering, minor injuries early on. That means he has collected multiple hits in 37.73 percent of his games, trailing only St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter (39.85) in such a percentage among the National League’s top 20 in multi-hit performances.
Not a fan of batting average as a metric? Werth’s .396 on-base percentage ranks fifth in the NL, his .526 slugging percentage fourth. A mechanical change in his approach – lifting his hands higher, so that they don’t have to travel up, then down through his swing – has helped him shorten the time from decision to contact, and the results speak for themselves.
“I think he’s a better hitter than he was over here,” said Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, referring to Werth’s days in Philadelphia. “He’s as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
Since July 1, Werth is batting .367/.451/.607 over a span of 233 plate appearances. If he continued at that pace for the season’s final 24 games, he would get 100 more plate appearances and finish at .330 (actually .3297, or 153-for-464), almost exactly what Atlanta’s Johnson is batting today. It will be another race worth keeping an eye on over the season’s final few weeks.
1. Denard Span CF
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
3. Jayson Werth RF
4. Adam LaRoche 1B
5. Ian Desmond SS
6. Wilson Ramos C
7. Corey Brown LF
8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B
9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP
I TOOK A WALK
The Nationals drew a season-high nine walks, two with the bases loaded, en route to their 9-6 triumph over the Phillies. Adam LaRoche accounted for three of the free passes, including the second of the back-to-back walks that scored runs.
Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 16 straight games at a .415 (27-for-65) clip with five walks, three doubles, two triples, a homer, 10 runs scored and five RBI. Span’s surge has raised his season batting average from .258 to .278. He is currently tied with Adam LaRoche, (May 2-19) for the longest hit streak by a National in 2013.
Starting tonight, three Washington farm clubs will begin postseason play:
• Harrisburg (AA) - Eastern League West Division Champions – vs. Erie (DET)
• Potomac (A) - Carolina League North Division Champions – vs. Lynchburg (ATL)
• Hagerstown (A) - South Atlantic League North Division Champions (first half) – at West Virginia (PIT)