Swing Music: Jayson Werth’s Walk-Up Tunes
No Major League Baseball game today seems complete without wall-to-wall “entertainment,” whether it’s the peeping eye of the Kiss Cam or a fleet of oversized U.S. presidents dashing about the outfield. Even the strictest baseball purists, though, can delight in one aspect of contemporary baseball ephemera: the walk-up song.
The Washington Nationals have their pick of a huge catalog of songs (MLB has a broad licensing agreement with three major music conglomerates), and, like most players, they gravitate toward a mix of radio-friendly pop and rock to soundtrack their stroll to the batter’s box. The major wild card in Nationals Park? The selections of Jayson Werth.
This season, the furry-faced outfielder has walked out to what has to be one of the most peculiar mixes in the league. Most of his teammates use one song, but Werth is on an eclectic four-song rotation: According to the Nats’ production team, he currently starts with the theme to AMC’s The Walking Dead for his first at-bat, then moves onto “Warehouse” by Dave Matthews Band, “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon, and the theme from Game of Thrones. (Interestingly, Werth is not the only major leaguer who likes the popular HBO show; R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays also walks out to Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones composition.)
Each song has its merits. The Walking Dead theme is perhaps the most cultish, while “Warehouse” has an interactive component (that part where everyone yells, “Wooh!”) and “Werewolves” best correlates with Werth’s physical appearance. But what can the numbers tell us about the songs’ power?
An analysis of Werth’s first 64 home at-bats this season measured his batting average and on-base percentage for each of his walk-up songs. The highly scientific results are as follows:
Song: The Walking Dead theme
Batting average: .111
On-base percentage: .222
Conclusion: The song seems to rattle both Werth and, on one occasion, the opposing pitcher. (Werth was hit by a pitch after walking out to this song against the White Sox.) He had a high rate of strikeouts (four of 18) and his worst averages. Maybe a song about zombies isn’t likely to inspire athletic prowess?
Batting average: .313
On-base percentage: .438
Conclusion: Arguably the lamest song musically, this DMB ditty nonetheless produces Werth’s highest stats. Maybe it’s the “wooh?”
Song: “Werewolves of London”
Batting average: .313
On-base percentage: .313
Conclusion: Tied for producing the highest batting average, this 1978 tune pleases the crowd and apparently Werth. He also hit one of his three at-home home runs this season after a “Werewolves” walk-up.
Song: Game of Thrones theme
Batting average: .214
On-base percentage: .286
Conclusion: The stats aren’t great, but there’s greatness in the stats: Werth hit two dingers in just 14 walk-ups to this song. Perhaps the theme needs to break into rotation when the bases are loaded.
Photo by UCinternational/CC 2.0 Attribution