So, what we can expect from Werth is a guy who plays average defense (trending down), strikes out a ton, but draws walks, hits the ball up the gaps, and hits plenty of home runs in smaller parks but not in bigger ones. He’ll likely put up an OPS above .800 but probably not above .850, and he’ll do that primarily by crushing left-handed starters.
In my mind, we’ve got that guy on the 25-man roster already. His name is Ryan Raburn. True, Raburn doesn’t have quite the career numbers that Werth does… but for the most part that’s just because Werth is two years older. By the end of their respective year-29 seasons Werth’s line was .263/.355/.450 compared to Raburn’s .274/.333/.466. That’s a slender edge for Werth of .006 OPS. If you’re a believer in making projections based on minor league stats, Werth had a .828 OPS in AAA in parts of four seasons. Raburn has an .852 OPS in AAA in parts of six. They both strike out a ton, with nearly identical BABIPs, more walks for Werth and more gap power for Raburn. Of course, Raburn has yet to put up those tremendous year-30 and year-31 campaigns that have made Werth the type-A he is. But, then, those seasons for Werth have already come and gone.
While Jayson Werth has feasted at home in Philadelphia, Raburn has actually hit better on the road than in Detroit, with a road OPS 39 points higher. Maybe that’s all random noise, but it makes it harder to argue that Comerica Park is somehow beneficial to players who match the right-handed line drive profile of Raburn & Werth. Raburn has caught a lot of flak for his glove in the outfield, but he has contributed 0.1 dWAR over the past two years compared to a negative 0.8 by Werth. Raburn is, after all, a converted infielder and it shouldn’t be a cause for dismay that it’s taken him a little time to find himself in the outfield. They both hit better against lefties, but Raburn’s 108 point split is still less than Werth’s. For what it’s worth, Jayson Werth has hit better in low to medium leverage situations and worst when it counts – for Ryan Raburn reverse that: his numbers in high-leverage situations are better than the rest.
I can’t advocate giving up $90 million dollars and a draft pick for another Ryan Raburn, but I’m wholeheartedly in favor of giving those 700 plate appearances to the Ryan Raburn we already have. There’s no need to look for right-handed power, a number five hitter, or a starting right fielder. We’ve got those already. What we need is a left-handed hitter with a high OPS to hit third and set the table for Cabrera, or cleanup so we could move Cabrera up in the lineup. Crawford? Martinez? Dunn? Absolutely. If those three fall through, we’ll have to look elsewhere… but Jayson Werth simply does not fit the bill.