Werth's Early Stuggles in Stance Change?

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | , , , | 0 comments »

Jayson Werth, the Washington Nationals $126 million dollar man, has struggled so far this season, to a slash line of .200/.302/.382 before the start of play Wednesday.  He had an RBI in the first game of the double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals, just his third of the season and first that did not come on a solo home run.

In Philadelphia, it was widely acknowledged that Werth transformed himself as a hitter when he lowered his hands and shortened his swing, somewhere around the 2009 season (when he hit 36 HRs, followed by last year's 27 HRs accompanied by the NL lead in doubles).

Notice Werth's hands in this video from 2010.  You'll have to forgive the fact it's a game-winner against the Nats.

So fast forward to this season, and you can notice stance is dramatically different. His hands start very high, with an open stance, but his toe tapping mechanism that triggers the swing brings him into a closed stance.

Click to Werth's MLB.com bio page and click on the video "Werth reaches on error".  It's a routine ground ball to short.  In fact (short sample size warning), so far this season Werth is grounding out at rates that are astronomically higher than his career averages and much higher than N.L. average.

Werth's Ground Ball to Fly Ball ratio is 1.21, DOUBLE his career 0.63 ratio.  His Ground Out to Fly Out ratio is 1.54, again almost double his career 0.84 and his line drive rate is 14 percent, well below his career 20 percent.

He's hitting twice the amount of ground balls, make almost twice as many ground outs, and one-third fewer line drives.

Again, 65 plate appearances isn't much of a sample size.  But if he put these numbers up over the course of a season, people would say that he got really old, really fast.  But what's seems clear is that his mechanics are causing him to hit ground balls at an alarming rate.