Nationals' Jayson Werth heating up at a familiar time

Nationals' Jayson Werth heating up at a familiar time
July 14, 2014, 6:00 am
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Jayson Werth capped off his 2014 first half with another solid game on Sunday, a four-RBI performance in the Nationals' 10-3 win over the Phillies. Werth notched two hits and a walk, and blasted his 12th home run of the season.

The veteran's recent surge is coming at a great time for the Nats, as their division race with the Atlanta Braves should begin to heat up very soon. It is also occurring at a familiar point for Werth.

Over the course of his career - and especially since he signed with Washington - Werth has made significant improvements over the course of each season.

Check out his first half/second half splits in 12 MLB seasons:

1st half: .264 BA, .353 OBP, .453 SLG, ,806 OPS (638 games)
2nd half: .284 BA, .381 OBP, .482 SLG, .863 OPS (587 games)

As you see, his batting average is a full .20 points higher and his OPS is .57 points better in games played after the All-Star break. While in Washington, the difference for Werth has been even more extreme. Early season injuries have played a role in the split, but Werth has been a completely different player for the Nats particularly in August and September.

Look at Werth's first half/second half batting averages while in Washington:

2011 - 1st half: .215 | 2nd half: .255
2012 - 1st half: .276 | 2nd half: .312
2013 - 1st half: .297 | 2nd half: .339

If you then combine his first half and second half numbers since he signed with Washington, they look like this:

2011-13 1st half: 166-for-656 = .253 average
2011-13 2nd half: 201-for-667 = .301 average

Werth had his sixth multi-hit game in 11 July outings on Sunday and hit his fourth home run in the last five games. Whether it was simply a coincidence or not, Werth's turnaround came right when Bryce Harper returned on June 30. Once the Nationals got healthy, Werth took off.

It hasn't only been Werth on the Nationals who has been hot of late. The veteran's resurgence has been paralleled by improvement up and down Washington's lineup.

After scoring 10 runs to beat the Phillies on Sunday, the Nats now have 56 total in 11 games this month. That breaks out to an average of more than five runs per game. No NL team has scored more per contest so far in July.

Werth has been a big part of the Nationals' offensive surge and he could just be heating up. Last year he exploded after the All-Star break to bat .339 with 15 home runs. 15 doubles, 46 runs and 49 RBI in 65 games. He ended up with arguably the best year of his career and placed 13th in NL MVP voting.

How Werth - and the Nats - will fare over the final half of the season is largely contingent on health, but the foundation appears to be laid for a strong second act for the Nationals outfielder.