WASHINGTON -- Prior to this season, Jayson Werth decided to be more aggressive and swing earlier in his at-bats, despite a career built on working counts and drawing walks. But after a rough start to the year, the 14-year veteran scrapped his new approach and returned to his patient ways.On
WASHINGTON -- Prior to this season, Jayson Werth decided to be more aggressive and swing earlier in his at-bats, despite a career built on working counts and drawing walks. But after a rough start to the year, the 14-year veteran scrapped his new approach and returned to his patient ways.
On Wednesday, after a 7-4 Nationals win in which he hit a double and a three-run homer and reached base for the 40th consecutive game, Werth said he feels like himself again.
"Everybody that's anybody always told me, 'You need to be more aggressive, you need to swing at the first pitch, you need to do this, you need to do that.'" Werth said. "That's just not really been my game, but for whatever reason, I thought this was the year I was going to do that. And I think I've silenced all those people that have told me over the years that that's the way I should hit."
Werth has reached base in every game since June 20, raising his on-base percentage from .317 to .345 over that time. His streak is the longest of his career and the longest in the Majors this season. The Nationals' franchise record is 43 games, set by Ryan Zimmerman in 2009.
The MLB record for the longest on-base streak is 84 games by Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams in 1949. George Van Haltren holds the NL record of 60, achieved for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1893.
Werth first extended the streak with a first-inning ground-rule double off Indians starter Josh Tomlin. The ball looked catchable, but Indians right fielder Abraham Almonte appeared to take a poor route, allowing the hit to drop safely and bounce over the fence.
In his second at-bat, Werth launched a Tomlin cutter into the left-center-field seats for a three-run home run to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead. It was the outfielder's second homer in as many days.
Werth tacked on a fifth-inning walk to round out one of his best games of the season.
"Jayson's no shock," pitcher Gio Gonzalez said. "I don't know why it's still a shock to anyone. Jayson's the real deal. He's the truth."
Werth's big day raised his batting average to .253 and his OPS to .784, the highest it has been since April 22. He now has 15 home runs, three more than he hit in an injury-shorted 2015 campaign.
As for the streak, Werth said it's just a reflection of his recommitment to being the type of hitter he's always been.
"Just getting back to being myself, I think that's what it comes down to," Werth said. "I've been a pretty good player over the course of my career, and I think it was a product of having good at-bats. It is what it is, whether it's a streak or it's not a streak, I feel like myself up there. I'm the same player I've been since I got to the league.
Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.