1910 Washington Nationals
Manager: Jimmy McAleer 10th Season (1st with Washington 66-85-6)
66 W 85 L 6 T 501 RS 551 RA 7th AL 36.5 GB (Philadelphia 102-48-5)
3.19 RPG (AL = 3.64) 2.46 ERA (AL = 2.52)
.691 DER (6th AL)
1910 Washington Nationals uniforms from baseballhalloffame.org
Franchise (1901-1910) 546-918-36
After three seasons, two last place finishes, 297 losses, and only 158 wins; Joe Cantillon was fired. His replacement was Jimmy McAleer. McAleer was, prior to 1910, the only manager the St. Louis Browns had. After a second place finish is his first season, 1902, the team had just two more winning seasons (1906, 1908) and McAleers final record in St. Louis was 551-632.
Jimmy McAleer’s 1909 Ramley Tobacco Card
A Tradition Begins
On April 14, President Taft and his wife surprised the team by showing up for opening day at American League Park. McAleer made an off-the-cuff suggestion that the President throw out the first pitch. Taft obliged, and became the first President to do so, throwing the first pitch to Walter Johnson who took the ball and promptly shut out the eventual AL Champion Philadelphia A’s.
William Howard Taft makes history
The biggest on-the-field story of 1910 was the emergence of Walter Johnson. For the past several years, the Washington pitching staff has been a strength (as much as any part of a last place team can be called a “strength”) consistently outperforming the team’s horrible offense, and finishing right in the middle of league pitching staffs. The fact that the 1910 ‘Nats were fourth in AL ERA (2.46) and third in AL runs allowed/game (3.50) is less a statement of the overall quality of the staff than an expression of how good Walter Johnson had become.
Johnson pitched in 29% of his team’s games, 27% of the innings, and earned 38% of the ‘Nats victories in 1910 while only allowing 15% of the team’s earned runs. What’s more, Johnson led the league in strikeouts, and accounted for almost half of Washington’s total.
It’s safe to say that, in 1910, the fact that the Nationals’ team pitching was better than league average was due to Walter Johnson. Take Johnson off the team and the staff becomes well below average.
1910 World Series
Both pennant races were essentially over in July, and two 100+ victory teams matched up in the World Series. Philadelphia, led by a pitching staff featuring Jack Coombs, Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, and Cy Morgan easily handled the Chicago Cubs 4-1 in the series.
Bold = player new to Washington in 1910
C Gabby Street .202/.273/.237 1 HR 0.6 BFW 4 WS
Street shared 1910 catching duties with Eddie Ainsmith and Heinie Beckendorf, so he only played 89 games behind the plate. A .273 OBP matched his career total.
1B Bob Unglaub .234/.270/.274 0 HR -1.2 BFW 5 WS
For his final season, Unglaub returned to his most comfortable position: first base. After leading the team in home runs in 1909, he hit zero in ’10.
2B Red Killefer .229/.318/.284 0 HR 10.5 BFW 8 WS
On August 27 Killefer, who came to the ‘Nats in last season’s Delahanty trade, laid down four sacrifice bunts in the first game of a double-header against Detroit. In his first at-bat of the second game, he does it again to become the only player in recorded major league history to bunt successfully in five straight plate appearances.
SS George McBride .230/.321/.288 1 HR 4.1 BFW 16 WS
McBride dazzled defensively once again in his third season as the anchor of the Washington infield. He also had a career-high in OBP that would stand through his entire career.
3B Kid Elberfeld .251/.322/.392 2 HR -0.3 BFW 12 WS
Elberfield was a 35 year-old veteran of 11 seasons when Washington purchased him from the New York Highlanders in the offseason. His height was reportedly between 5’5” and 5’7″, but he had the reputation of a hothead, earning him the nickname “the Tabasco Kid.”
LF Jack Lelivelt .265/.343/.311 0 HR 0.8 BFW 10 WS
This was the only season in which Lelivelt was an every day player.
CF Clyde Milan .279/.379/.333 0 HR 2.6 BFW 23 WS
Milan equaled or surpassed career highs in nearly every offensive category in his third season as a full time player. He finished fifth in the AL in OBP due partially to his ability to draw walks. He was second in the AL in that category with 72 bases on balls.
RF Doc Gessler .259/.361/.355 2 HR 1.4 BFW 17 WS
A late 1909 trade brought Gessler to D.C., where he put up some decent deadball numbers at the age of 29.
P Walter Johnson 25-17 1.36 ERA 0.91 WHIP 5.5 PW 36 WS
1910 may be the year that Johnson made the jump from a very good pitcher to a dominant pitcher. In 1910, he led the AL in games pitched (45), complete games (38) innings pitched (370), strikeouts (313), and strikeouts per nine innings (7.61). His adjusted ERA+ was 183, a great number to be sure, but one Johnson will surpass many times before his career is over. On July 8 against the Browns, Johnson struck out the first seven men he faced. On September 25, Johnson tosses a near-perfect game, allowing the Browns only a single.
P Bob Groom 12-17 2.76 ERA 1.25 WHIP -1.6 PW 10 WS
Groom improved on his 1909 ERA by just one tenth of a run, but managed a much more respectable won-loss record due to an improved offense giving him support (the same offense that accounted for Johnson’s 20-win season on the heels of a 20-loss season).
P Dolly Gray 8-19 2.63 ERA 1.23 WHIP -0.2 PW 10 WS
“Goodbye” Dolly Gray would get one more chance to show he could succeed in 1911.
P Dixie Walker 11-11 3.30 ERA 1.23 WHIP -1.4 PW 8 WS
He pitched only four games in his first season in 1909. His sons, Dixie and Harry, had considerably more distinct major league careers.
P Doc Reisling 10-10 2.54 ERA 1.20 WHIP 0.2 PW 11 WS
Reisling, true to his nickname, was a practicing dentist. He did not begin his major league career until he was 29 years old. Reisling appeared in 19 games between 1904 and 1909. In 1910 he played in 30 games before his season was interrupted by illness.