1914 Washington Nationals
Manager: Clark Griffith 14th Season (3rd with Washington 262-198-7)
81 W 73 L 4 T 572 RS 519 RA 3rd AL 19.0 GB (Philadelphia 99-53-6)
3.62 RPG (AL = 3.65) 2.54 ERA (AL = 2.73)
.701 DER (2nd AL)
Franchise (1901-1914) 872-1206-43
In mid-July of 1914, the Nationals were, for the third straight year, right in the mix for the AL Pennant. The team was only two games out of first place in a crowded league race, and looked to be in good shape with Walter Johnson on the staff and an identical lineup to the 90+ game winners of 1912 and 1913.
That all changed on July 17th. In a 3-1 loss to the Indians, Clyde Milan and Danny Moeller collide in the outfield while chasing a ball. Moeller is essentially uninjured, but Milan will miss 40 games after breaking his jaw in two places.
By the time Milan returned to the lineup in early September, the Nats were 17 games out of first place.
A bigger scare would come to Griffith in December, when franchise ace Walter Johnson signed a three-year contract to play with the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. Griffith made several trips to the Coffeyville, Kansas home of his star pitcher, and finally convinced him to re-sign with Washington for $12,500, considerably less that the $17,500 the Feds were offering. The American League helped Griffith repay the $6,000 signing bonus that Johnson received from the Whales.
The 1914 Nationals also have the distinction of being one of the few teams to be no-hit for nine innings yet still win the game. On May 14th Jim Scott of Chicago held the Nats hitless through nine. Fortunately for Washington, Doc Ayers was able to hold the opposition scoreless. The Nats were able to put together a run on a couple of hits in the tenth inning to win the game.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1914
C John Henry .169/.274/.226 0 HR -0.3 BFW 6 WS 34 FRAR 3.1 WARP3
This was Henry’s worst season at the plate since his first full season in 1911. His value to the team, however, continues to come from his defense, which once again was among the best in the league. Once again Henry shared catching duties with Eddie Ainsmith, who caught in 51 games, and Rip Williams, who caught 44 games.
1B Chick Gandil .259/.324/.359 3 HR 2.1 BFW 17 WS 30 FRAR 5.9 WARP3
Gandil’s numbers took a hit in 1914, though his career totals indicate that this season was more representative of Chick’s hitting than his two year run of 1912 and 1913. According to FRAR, however, 1914 was Gandil’s best fielding season, which accounts for his career high 2.1 BFW and 5.9 WARP3. Three home runs would also be a career high.
2B Ray Morgan .257/.352/.340 1 HR -0.7 BFW 19 WS 31 FRAR 3.8 WARP3
The highlight of Morgan’s season was the instigation of a wild brawl. In a July 30th game against the Tigers, Morgan disputed an umpire’s call by throwing dirt at his feet. The umpire, Jack Sheridan, took a swing at Morgan erupting a bench-clearing brawl that spilled over into the stands (Morgan reportedly was one of the players who jumped into the stands, along with John Henry and Eddie Ainsmith). Once order was restored and the game resumed, the Tigers defeated the Nats 3-2.
SS George McBride .203/.274/.243 0 HR -1.2 BFW 12 WS 55 FRAR 4.6 WARP3
1914 looks to be the beginning of the end for George McBride’s career as an effective shortstop. The 33 year old had a great defensive season again, but his hitting numbers were the worst he had seen since becoming a regular player. Though he once again received some MVP votes, his OBP will continue to decline, and McBride will lose his job as Washington’s every day shortstop by 1917.
3B Eddie Foster .282/.348/.351 2 HR -1.1 BFW 23 WS 9 FRAR 4.2 WARP3
After missing a chunk of the 1913 season due to illness, Foster was back with a vengeance in 1914, and was one of the team’s best hitters again. He struggled with the glove, however, and was Washington’s only defensive liability among the regular infielders.
LF Howie Shanks .224/.269/.332 4 HR -3.1 BFW 10 WS 15 FRAR 1.7 WARP3
The 23-year old also covered in center field while Milan was out. Next season, Calvin Griffith will try him in the infield as well. Shank’s AVG and OBP fell off a bit from the 1913 mark, but he hit for more power in 1914, including the team-leading four home runs (Chick Gandil and Walter Johnson tied for second with three each).
CF Clyde Milan .295/.346/.396 1 HR -0.5 BFW 19 WS 2 FRAR 3.2 WARP3
Milan, considered by Clark Griffith to be the best center fielder in franchise history, continued to drop according to FRAR:
Some of the drop off may be due to the collision with Moeller, but his FRAR will hover in the single digits for the rest of his career.
A 1911 Clyde Milan tobacco card
After leading the league for two straight years in stolen bases, Milan only swiped 38 in a shortened 1914, 5th in the league. Still, the 27 year old was the top offensive producer for Washington, and had several good seasons ahead of him.
RF Danny Moeller .250/.341/.324 1 HR -1.4 BFW 17 WS 16 FRAR 3.9 WARP3
Without the home run number of his previous two seasons, Moeller is just the guy who ran into Milan and broke his jaw.
SP Walter Johnson 28-18 1.72 ERA 0.97 WHIP 7.2 PW 38 WS 14.6 WARP3
On opening day, Johnson shuts out the Boston Red Sox 3-0, and really doesn’t look back, having another great season for Washington. During the off season following 1914, Johnson will flirt with the Federal League, but ultimately will return to Washington. Johnson hit a grand slam against Detroit on June 21.
SP Doc Ayers 12-15 2.54 ERA 1.04 WHIP 0.3 PW 14 WS 2.9 WARP3
The 23-year old spit-baller pitched in four games in 1913, but 1914 counts as his rookie year. His real name was Yancey Wyatt Ayers, and he was born in Snake Creek, VA. Ayers was sixth in AL strikeouts in 1914 with 148 (5.02 per 9 IP- 8th in the AL). He wouldn’t see triple digits again until 1920.
SP Jim Shaw 15-17 2.70 ERA 1.30 WHIP 0.1 PW 14 WS 3.4 WARP3
Like Ayers, Shaw played in a handful of games in 1913, but 1914 is still considered his rookie season. He struck out 164 batters in 1914, but led the AL in walks with 137. He was well known around the league for the loud grunts he made when delivering pitches.
SP Joe Boehling 12-8 3.03 ERA 1.31 WHIP 0.4 PW 12 WS 3.1 WARP3
The numbers dropped off significantly for Boehling in 1914, and his ERA will remain around 3.00 or above for the rest of his career.
RP Joe Engel 7-5 2.97 ERA 1.47 WHIP -0.2 PW 7 WS 1.1 WARP3
The 21-year old Engel pitched 124 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. He did start in 15 games.
RP Jack Bentley 5-7 2.37 ERA 1.30 WHIP 0.6 PW 9 WS 1.9 WARP3
Though he spends four years in Washington (1913-1916), this will be the only season that Bentley gets significant playing time. Bentley will take an extended leave of absence from baseball following the 1916 season when, among other things, he served in the trenches in France. After a few more years in the minors, he will resurface with the Giants in 1923 and accumulate a lot of wins for a very good team.
1914 World Series
The NL Champion Boston Braves swept Connie Mack’s Philadelphia team in a bit of an upset. After the Series, Mack broke up the million-dollar infield and Philadelphia became the AL doormats for the rest of the decade.