1915 Washington Nationals
Manager: Clark Griffith 15th Season (4th with Washington 347-266-9)
85 W 68 L 2 T 569 RS 491 RA 4th AL 17.0 GB (Boston 101-50-4)
3.67 RPG (AL = 3.96) 2.31 ERA (AL = 2.93)
.706 DER (2nd AL)
Franchise (1901-1915) 957-1274-45
Consistency was the key as the 1915 Nats finished their fourth straight season above the .500 mark.
For the pitchers, consistency meant another great season from Walter Johnson. Other pitchers stepped up as well, including Doc Ayers and Bert Gallia, to help make Washington the most difficult pitching staff to score runs on in the 1915 American League.
Consistency for position players meant another year with the same starting eight. Unfortunately for Washington fans, that lineup had been below average in every season but 1912. 1915 was more of the same from the offense, and the best hitter on the team would play his future seasons elsewhere.
The team was never really a factor in the AL Pennant race, and it was becoming increasingly clear that the group that had turned around the Washington franchise in 1912 was probably not the same group that would turn the next corner to win the American League.
The fans seemed to know it too. Attendance fell to its lowest level since the concrete version of American League Park was built in 1911.
Year-Attendance per game
One day in late September, however, the Nats seemed unbeatable. On September 29th, Connie Mack’s defending AL Champion A’s came into town for a three game series. The first two were played as a double-header on the 29th.
While the A’s won the pennant the year before, 1915 was a fire sale for Connie Mack, and just a year after winning 99 games the A’s were on their way to losing 109. Washington scored 30 runs in the double-header, including a 20-5 victory in the night cap.
A couple of promising rookies saw their first playing time in 1915. A 21-year old named Joe Judge played 10 games at first base, and would take over for Chick Gandil when he was sold after the season. A young Sam Rice began his short-lived pitching career in 1915, though next season Griffith will try him in the outfield, where he will have much more success. Finally, Clyde Milan’s brother Horace played a few game in the outfield for the Nats, though his career would only span 42 games over three seasons.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1915
C John Henry .220/.323/.278 1 HR 1.1 BFW 10 WS 33 FRAR 4.3 WARP3
Henry, at age 26, has one more season left as the every day catcher before Eddie Ainsmith, a backup since 1910, takes over.
1B Chick Gandil .291/.340/.406 2 HR 0.5 BFW 16 WS 13 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
The 27-year old would be sold to Cleveland after the season, and eventually land in Chicago where he would play for the White Sox through a World Series victory in 1917, and a famous loss in 1919. He refused to play for the salary Charles Comiskey offered him in 1920, and was formally banned from baseball in 1921 for his role in the “Black Sox” scandal. Based on WARP3, Washington probably made a good move in selling Gandil with a young Joe Judge waiting to take over at first base.
1916: Gandil (CLE) 3.5; Judge 2.2
1917: Gandil (CHW) 4.0; Judge 4.9
1918: Gandil (CHW) 3.1; Judge 3.6
1919: Gandil (CHW) 4.5; Judge 5.1
1920: Gandil DNP; Judge 5.5
2B Ray Morgan .233/.342/.301 0 HR -0.4 BFW 6 WS 8 FRAR 1.5 WARP3
Morgan played just 62 games in 1915 due to a knee injury received in an automobile accident, and was spelled by regular third baseman Eddie Foster for a good chunk of the season.
SS George McBride .204/.251/.252 1 HR -1.5 BFW 9 WS 44 FRAR 3.0 WARP3
In his worst offensive season yet, McBride produced just 49 OPS+, meaning the average hitter in the majors would double his output in 1915.
3B Eddie Foster .275/.329/.348 0 HR -0.2 BFW 22 WS 23 FRAR 4.9 WARP3
Foster’s defense improved dramatically based on FRAR in 1915. The numbers seem to indicate that he may have more comfortable/valuable at second base, where he played 72 games due to Morgan’s injury (compared to 79 games at third).
LF Howie Shanks .250/.297/.321 0 HR -0.9 BFW 12 WS 26 FRAR 3.1 WARP3
Shanks became more of a utility man in 1915, though he still held an every day job. While he still spent most of his time in the outfield, he also played second and third base for Griffith.
CF Clyde Milan .288/.353/.346 2 HR -1.0 BFW 22 WS 4 FRAR 3.6 WARP3
Once again Milan was among the AL leaders in stolen bases with 40, good for fifth in the league; though he was caught stealing 19 times. Virtually all of his value from 1913 to the end of his career came from his hitting, as he was slightly better than a replacement level fielder.
RF Danny Moeller .226/.319/.311 2 HR -1.6 BFW 11 WS 11 FRAR 2.6 WARP3
Moeller added some value on the basepaths, swiping 32 bases while only being caught 10 times.
SP Walter Johnson 27-13 1.55 ERA 0.93 WHIP 7.4 PW 42 WS 14.1 WARP3
Another year, another dominant season for Johnson. At the age of 27, he once again led the league in several pitching categories, and was the backbone for yet another winning season in Washington.
On August 14, 1915 Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth squared off for the first time. Ruth led the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over Johnson and the Nats, going 2-for-3 at the plate in the process.
SP Joe Boehling 14-13 3.22 ERA 1.47 WHIP -0.2 PW 12 WS 1.7 WARP3
Boehling’s control problem reached its peak in 1915. He walked 119 men in 229.3 innings pitched; a long way from his impressive 1913 season.
SP Bert Gallia 17-11 2.29 ERA 1.09 WHIP 1.8 PW 22 WS 5.8 WARP3
Gallia had been with the Nats for three seasons prior, but established himself as the best pitcher on the team not named Walter Johnson in 1915. Though he would continue to have success, the 1915 season was easily Gallia’s best.
SP Jim Shaw 6-11 2.50 ERA 1.34 WHIP 1.0 PW 10 WS 3.1 WARP3
Though Shaw’s innings decreased from the year before, he still had a solid season in 1915.
RP Doc Ayers 14-9 2.21 ERA 1.02 WHIP 1.7 PW 19 WS 5.2 WARP3
Ayers spent most of the season coming out of the bullpen, and had one of the more successful seasons as a relief specialist in 1915. The 24-year old will keep that role for a few more years in Washington.
1915 World Series
The Red Sox, behind a great starting rotation including Ernie Shore, Babe Ruth, Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard, and Joe Wood defeated the Philadelphia Phillies four games to one.