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HS 197: Jayson Werth deserves to be on the Phillies Wall of Fame

On Hittin’ Season Episode 197, host John Stolnis explores the controversial legacy of Jayson Werth.

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Steven M. Falk

Since leaving Philadelphia, Jayson Werth’s relationship with the city’s fanbase has been complicated. One could even say there was some mutual loathing between the two.

Some fans simply, and irrationally, hated Jayson Werth for leaving Philadelphia as a free agent following the 2010 season, when he signed a 7-year, $125 million deal with the Phils’ division rivals, the Washington Nationals.

It didn’t have to be this way. As much as I love Phillies fans and the passion with which they follow the team, they were wrong to hate him for taking the contract of a lifetime and leaving a franchise that, quite frankly, didn’t want him anymore. The Phils had uber prospect Domonic Brown ready to go (or so we thought) and didn’t feel like giving $125 million for a player in his early 30s when one of the top prospects in the game was ready to take his place would have been a wise investment.

The Phillies process was correct, Brown’s washout from the game notwithstanding. So, Werth took the money, and when he came back to Citizens Bank Park for the first time, the reaction from the fans was mixed.

That welcome was a far cry from the hearty cheers handed out to Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz.

Things didn’t get better. When he injured his wrist in a game against the Phils in Washington a few weeks later, he was taunted by Phillies fans who were in attendance at the game, which led Werth to say to The Washington Post in 2011...

“After walking off the field feeling nauseous knowing my wrist was broke and hearing Philly fans yelling ‘You deserve it,’ and, ‘That’s what you get,’ I am motivated to get back quickly and see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again,” Werth wrote to the Post.

Of course, before all this nonsense began, Werth was one of the best players on four Phillies teams, one of which won a World Series, one went to another, and two more won division titles. In those four seasons, 2007-2010, he hit .282/.380/.506. He had 95 homers and 99 doubles, including a league-leading 46 two-baggers in 2010, a season in which he was a top-10 MVP finalist.

Werth had 11 career postseason home runs with the Phillies, more than any other player in franchise history (Utley is next-closest with 10). He hit .266/.376/.590 in 40 career postseason games with the Phils. He was a terrific postseason performer.

However, he was only here for four years, and many Phillies fans simply don’t like him. So I asked the question to Phils fans... should Jayson Werth be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame?

As you can see, the overwhelming majority of Phils fans rightfully believe Werth should one day be inducted onto the Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park. It makes sense, when you consider some of the other names already honored.

Mike Lieberthal is an interesting case as well. He spent much longer with the franchise, 13 seasons, and played 1174 games with the team, hitting .275/.338/.450 with 150 homers and 255 doubles — pretty darn good numbers for a catcher. He was worth 15.6 WAR with the Phillies and, along with Darren Daulton, is generally considered one of the two best backstops in team history.

However, in just four seasons, Werth had virtually the same WAR (15.7) as Lieberthal, and was obviously a part of a team that won a world championship. When you consider that much of the animosity Werth showed Phillies fans after joining Washington was largely started by Phils fans and not him, I think Werth is an easy choice to join the Wall.

On Episode 197 of “Hittin’ Season,” I discuss all this, as well as some of Werth’s greatest moments with the team. I’m also joined by The Athletic’s Eno Sarris to talk about the Phils’ starting rotation and the chances it regresses in the second half, and I preview this weekend’s Phils-Nats showdown.