Is Jayson Werth A Center Fielder?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL: Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals makes a catch during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The answer, of course, is that of course Jayson Werth is a center fielder. If Davey Johnson writes your name in the lineup, you're a center fielder, too.

What we really want to know is whether or not Jayson Werth should be a center fielder. Because the Washington Nationals seem to be considering the possibility. Seriously considering it.

MLB.com's Bill Ladson:

The Nationals are giving serious thought to moving Jayson Werth to center field in 2012, and he could be flanked by Bryce Harper in right.

Washington entered the offseason looking for a center fielder. The team continues to have interest in signing Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes or dealing for a player such as B.J. Upton of the Rays or Denard Span of the Twins.

--snip--

"We put Jayson out there [late last season] to find out if we had ourselves a center fielder in-house," Rizzo said. "We felt he played quite well out there. It doesn't really [force us] to trade for a center fielder, because we feel we have a center fielder in house already.

In Davey Johnson's press conference Monday, he said, "I talked to Jayson last season. He loves center field."

Hey, I love center field. John Fogerty loves center fieldAlexander Portnoy loved center field. That doesn't mean any of should actually be playing center field in the furshlugginer Major Leagues of Baseball.

If you believe Ultimate Zone Rating, Jayson Werth used to be an outstanding right fielder. Like, off the charts. If you believe UZR, Werth might have been the best outfielder in the majors from 2002 through 2008, inning for inning.

Since 2008? Not so much. UZR's got him as decent in 2009, subpar in 2010 and just fair in 2011. Add those three seasons together -- which actually makes sense, with fielding stats -- and we're looking at a right fielder who should, all else being equal, probably start thinking about first base in three or four years.

Instead, he's thinking about center field.

Hey, it could work. If moving Werth to center means getting Bryce Harper into the lineup, it's probably worth doing. Hell, it's inevitable since the Nationals sure as hell aren't going to be trading Werth's massive contract anytime soon. In fact, I will argue that shifting Werth to center field will fail only if his defense is so awful that it's awfully noticeable. Which it probably won't be.

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