After signing a 100 year, 18 bazillion dollar contract earlier this month, no doubt Jayson Werth’s new palatial mansion is resplendent with dozens of shiny new toys. Compound bows made of deer teeth and .50 caliber rifles that fire titanium, jugular-seeking bullets fill his stocking and street legal armored tanks sit under his tree. All manner of animal-slaughtering wonderment for the holiday season!
We here at Getting Blanked are much simpler people with modest means. Instead of rocket cars powered by crushed up Easter Island head statues, we settle for flash-based websites that track batted ball locations by stadium. Every ball in play from every game played over the last three years. While not as sexy as satellite guided vacuums or busty humanoid butlers, visualizing batted balls offers insight and context when analyzing players changing teams.
The Nationals have their own shiny toy, the aforementioned Jayson Werth. The image at the top of this post shows the Nationals Ballpark welcoming Werth to his new home. but will his new stomping ground actually be so welcoming when the games start in April?
Werth is a fine ballplayer; one of the most patient hitters in baseball, a good base runner and occasionally spectacular outfielder. Valuable and important skills for a franchise cornerstone. But power writes checks, which is why the Nats cut Werth a big, giant deal to bring his middle of the order bat to the Beltway.
Below is a hit location chart, tracking the hits and air outs (ground outs omitted for clarity) Jayson Werth recorded at Citizen’s Bank Park during the last two seasons – with a twist, courtesy of the good people at Katron.org. Instead of graphing the balls in play on a map of CBP, the image below shows those same batted balls if struck at his new home, Nationals Park.
The most important things to note are the blue dots you see along the warning track and outfield grass. Blue dots represent home runs, meaning those balls landed in the seats in Philly. I’m no scientist, but those look like they may just stay in the yard. By my count, that is at least 15 home runs you can remove from Werth’s tally.
Obviously there are more environmental factors influencing the flight of Werth’s would-be home runs but we cannot underestimate the impact of giving up a bandbox in favor of a pitcher’s haven. The Nats surely did their homework and can’t expect Werth to post identical numbers to his time playing in the Philly Sandlot, but don’t be surprised if Werth doesn’t quite reach his usual 25 home run plateau.