Here’s one way to gauge whether you think Jayson Werth will be able to live up to his seven-year, $126 million contract.
WerthLet’s set an arbitrary criteria for an $18 million player using two simple metrics -- on-base percentage and home runs -- with the standard of excellence being a .375 on-base percentage and 30 home runs in a season. That seems reasonable given that $18 million ranks among the elite contracts in today’s game.
Six players have managed a .375 on-base percentage and averaged 30 home runs a year over the last seven seasons. Those are: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, David Ortiz and Adam Dunn.
If you think that Werth can match or come reasonably close to how those players have performed from 2004 to 2010, then you can feel good about this contract. If not, you might be a little bit skittish right now.
-- Mark Simon
Another way is to see how valuable Werth has been lately to try and determine if he can continue, or improve on, that performance.
Werth has been one of the National League’s best players since joining the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, which led to his huge deal with the Washington Nationals this week. Werth’s average annual value of $18 million means that only 16 contracts in major-league history have offered a higher AAV.
And in terms of average annual value on contracts that include next season, he will have no worse than the sixth-biggest contract in baseball among hitters after Carl Crawford is signed. For that kind of dough, Werth is going to have to improve his play in a season when he’ll turn 32 years old.
Last season, according to FanGraphs, Werth’s value was determined to be $20 million. While it might seem like the Nats got a discount, Werth rated as the 28th most valuable hitter in the majors in 2010. He was valued at $22 million the year before that -- good for 28th in the league -- after being valued at $22.9 million in 2008. If he had just 20 more plate appearances that season, he would have been the 24th-most valuable player in baseball.
By this measure, Werth’s value has actually decreased over the last three years, when he played at ages 29, 30 and 31. He needs to increase his production and become more valuable than 22 players in order to justify this contract -- just next season, when he’ll be 32 before June.
-- John Fisher