As if it wasn't obvious previously, it's clear now that Jayson Werth has heard all the chatter in recent months about his career being in decline.
At 37 years old and coming off a disappointing, injury-riddled 2015 campaign, the veteran outfielder had his future with the Nationals questioned by fans and baseball pundits who wondered if and when the team might look to replace him.
Flash forward to this week, one in which he notched two dramatic game-winning singles in a span of four days, and Werth wasn't about to let his detractors off the hook for doubting him, exclaiming in an on-field interview that "those people can kiss my a--!"
Werth was a bit more subdued in the clubhouse following Wednesday's wild 5-4 win over the Cubs, but his overall sentiment was still the same.
"One swing can change your life," he said. "I never doubted it."
Of course, a pair of big hits does not a season make. But even if you put his late-inning heroics aside, the numbers show Werth may indeed have a little more left in the tank. Since May 30, he has a slash line of .327/.433/.571 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. And while this recent stretch may have raised his average to a modest .248 — one percentage point behind Bryce Harper's mark of .249 — his 37 RBIs on the season are tied for third on the team with the red-hot Wilson Ramos.
“You’re playing a game where if you make an out seven out of ten times, you’re good," Werth said. "So you are borderline delusional, anyways. But yeah, never a doubt. That’s how you got to go about it. You got to think that you’re the best player on the field when you are 0-for-4 with four punch outs going into you last at-bat, in a slump, it don’t matter."
It's almost hard to believe that Werth is already in the sixth year of the seven-year, $126 million deal the Nats gave him back in 2011. At the time of the signing, Mike Rizzo and the front office were questioned for signing a player over 30 to such a long deal, expensive contract. But in his tenure in D.C., Werth has become one of the undisputed leaders of the clubhouse, a key part in the organization's transition from NL East doormat to perennial contender. And of course, as Nats fans were reminded this week, he's shown an uncanny ability to author some of the most dramatic moments in team history.
Time will tell if the 14-year veteran is truly in the midst of a career renaissance, or if this hot streak is merely temporary. But if you're the Nats, it's definitely nice to know that Werth is still capable of a vintage performance in 2016.
"The guy is a clutch man," manager Dusty Baker said. "He's a big game guy. He's been that since he's been here. That's what I learned about Jayson. He wants to be in that situation. Every time he comes through, that makes it easier in his mind and our mind for him to come through in the future."