1925 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 2nd Season (2nd with Washington 188-117-3; 7-7 WS)
96 W 55 L 1 T 829 RS 670 RA 1st AL 8.5 GA (Philadelphia 88-64-1)
5.45 RPG (AL = 5.20) 3.70 ERA (AL = 4.39)
.972 DER (3rd AL)
Franchise (1901-1925) 1714-2007-66; 7-7 WS
A year after winning the first World Championship in franchise history, Bucky Harris led the Washington Nationals to an even better season. The team won four more games than the previous year, and ran away with its second straight pennant.
While the lineup remained essentially the same, Clark Griffith went outside to bring in some veteran pitchers to solidify the league’s best staff. Both Stan Coveleski and Dutch Reuther rejuvenated their careers in Washington, making Washington DC even more confident that their team would repeat in 1925.
In addition to the new faces, some old faces had great seasons as well. Roger Peckinpaugh won the AL MVP award in 1925; Walter Johnson had his last great season; and Goose Goslin hit the stride that would ultimately lead him into the Hall of Fame. In fact, the 1925 team boasted five future Hall of Famers (six if you count Griffith).
The 1925 World Series was a showdown with a Pittsburgh team that also won the pennant by 8.5 games. In a league that averaged about five runs per game, the mighty offense of the Pirates averaged almost a full run more. Led by Kiki Cuyler, George Grantham, and Max Carey, the Pittsburgh lineup looked to be a formidable opponent for the American League’s best pitching staff.
1925 World Series Program from Baseball-Almanac.com
The Nats were able to hold the powerful lineup in check through the first six games of the series, allowing the Pirates just 16 runs. Walter Johnson pitched particularly well, winning Games 1 and 5 for Washington.
For the second straight year, Washington would play in a seventh game. This time, the results didn’t start a parade in the nation’s capital, however. The Nats scored four runs in the top of the first, and looked to be well on their way to repeating with Walter Johnson on the mound. Pittsburgh was able to creep back into the game, with the help of an important error by Roger Peckinpaugh. Washington seemed to be able to stay one step ahead; at least until the bottom of the eighth.
The Senators led 7-6 heading into the eighth inning. Johnson quickly got the first two outs of the inning, but he was not able to get out of the eighth with a lead. Two consecutive doubles tied the game, and Johnson walked Eddie Moore to put men on first and second. Max Carey hit a grounder that Peckinpaugh misplayed to load the bases; and a Kiki Cuyler double knocked in two to put the Pirates ahead 9-7.
Washington was not able to put anything together against Red Oldham in the ninth and the Pirates held on to win the game and the series. It would be Walter Johnson’s last opportunity to pitch in a World Series.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1925
C Muddy Ruel .310/.411/.344 0 HR 2.1 BFW 18 WS 42 FRAR 6.5 WARP3
Ruel had a career best on-base percentage in 1925, and continued to be a solid performer both at the plate and behind it. After struggling in the 1924 World Series, Ruel had a good effort in 1925, batting .316/.409/.368 in this year’s fall classic.
1B Joe Judge .314/.406/.487 8 HR 1.1 BFW 15 WS 15 FRAR 4.7 WARP3
Another solid season for Judge, something that Clark Griffith and Nats’ fans had come to expect from the 31-yea-old first baseman.
2B Bucky Harris .287/.370/.358 1 HR -0.1 BFW 16 WS 33 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
The manager turned in what has become a typical season for him: very good defense accompanied by slightly below average hitting.
SS Roger Peckinpaugh .294/.367/.379 4 HR -0.4 BFW 15 WS 23 FRAR 4.1 WARP3
Though it wasn’t his finest season, the 34-year-old veteran was named AL MVP for his effort in 1925. The reality is that Peckinpaugh wasn’t even the most valuable player in Washington. Still, his defense and reputation as a leader was well respected, and ultimately earned him the MVP vote over players who had better seasons.
1925 AL MVP
1. Peckinpaugh, WAS 4.1 WARP3
2. Al Simmons, PHA 8.9 WARP3
3. Joe Sewell, CLE 11.0 WARP3
4. Harry Heilmann, DET 8.7 WARP3
5. Harry Rice, SLB 5.5 WARP3
It was a good thing that Peckinpaugh received some attention for his regular season performance, because, simply put, if there was a goat in the 1925 World Series he was it. Peckinpaugh made eight fielding errors in the series, including two in the seventh and deciding game; one that directly led to the winning run for Pittsburgh.
3B Ossie Bluege .287/.362/.377 4 HR 0.1 BFW 16 WS 35 FRAR 5.3 WARP3
Bluege played in 145 games in 1925, most in his career so far. His defense improved enough that he earned some MVP votes, and finished 10th on the ballot.
LF Goose Goslin .334/.394/.547 18 HR 3.5 BFW 31 WS 25 FRAR 8.9 WARP3
While Peckinpaugh received the MVP award, Goslin was the team’s true MVP in 1925. Not only did he shatter team records in the slugging department (18 HR), Goslin had a great World Series for the second straight year.
Goose Goslin World Series Numbers
1924 .344/.344/.656 3 HR 7 RBI
1925 .308/.379/.692 3 HR 6 RBI
Goslin would play in three more World Series later in his career, but didn’t approach the numbers he put up in the first two.
CF Earl McNeely .286/.378/.356 3 HR -0.9 BFW 11 WS 7 FRAR 1.7 WARP3
As the every day center fielder, the 1924 World Series hero McNeely was a bit of a disappointment in 1925.
RF Sam Rice .350/.388/.442 1 HR 0.7 BFW 24 WS 14 FRAR 5.6 WARP3
Rice hit 182 singles in 1925, an AL record that will stand until 1980. The most famous play of Rice’s career occurred in Game 3 of the World Series, when he appeared to make a tumbling catch of an Earl Smith line drive to the right field corner. Rice disappeared from view for about 15 seconds, prompting speculation that a fan had helped him recover the ball. Sam would dodge questions about the play for many years, finally offering the answer in a sealed envelope to be opened upon his death. In 1974, the Hall of Fame opened the message, which stated “At no time did I lose possession of the ball.”
1B/OF Joe Harris .323/.430/.573 12 HR 2.3 BFW 17 WS 10 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
The veteran came to the team in a late-April trade and provided something Washington had not had in its history: power off the bench. He filled in at first and in the corner outfield positions, and is one of the major reasons that ’25 team had the best record in franchise history to that point. Harris’ value really showed in the World Series, where he batted .440/.500/.880 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI.
SP Walter Johnson 20-7 3.97 ERA 1.29 WHIP 4.6 PW 26 WS 7.9 WARP3
While the 37-year old continued to pile up the pitching numbers, 1925 was his best season at the plate. In 107 plate appearances, Johnson hit .433/.455/.577 with two home runs and 20 RBI. On at least two occasions, manager Harris called for Johnson’s bat in game-winning situations, and Johnson came through. On April 23 Johnson was called out of the shower to hit a two-run single to win the game over New York, 3-2. On May 19th, the Big Train drove a ball over the 45-foot wall at League Park in Cleveland to give his team a 4-3 win.
In the World Series, Johnson seemed to have the Pirates’ number in his first two appearances, allowing just one run in Games 1 and 5. The Pirates finally got to Johnson in the final game, however. He allowed 15 hits and nine runs, though only five of them were earned, in the 9-7 loss in Game 7.
SP Stan Coveleski 20-5 2.84 ERA 1.26 WHIP 2.9 PW 23 WS 6.1 WARP3
In December of 1924, Clark Griffith made his championship team better by sending By Speece and Carr Smith, who would combine for just 41 major league games after 1924, to Cleveland in exchange for spit-baller Stan Coveleski. Coveleski had been Cleveland’s ace from 1916-1924. He pitched three complete games victories in the 1920 World Series to help his team to victory. Cleveland dealt him after 1924 thinking that Coveleski’s better days were behind him. At the age of 35, Coveleski seemed to regain the form that made him one of the league’s best pitchers from 1917-1920. He led the AL in ERA and W-L percentage in 1925, and seemed to be the perfect partner for Walter Johnson. At one point in 1925, Coveleski won 13 straight decisions.
SP Dutch Reuther 18-7 3.87 ERA 1.55 WHIP 2.2 PW 20 WS 5.5 WARP3
In the same month he acquired Coveleski, Griffith also purchased Dutch Reuther from Brooklyn. Reuther was probably best known as one of the stars for Cincinnati in the 1919 World Series. Take away his best season in 1919, and the rest of Reuther’s career was about average for a pitcher during his time. He had a solid season in his first as an AL pitcher. After a pretty good start in 1926, Washington traded Reuther to the Yankees for a couple of players to be named later. Reuther would stay on to become a part of one of baseball’s most famous teams: the 1927 Yankees.
SP Tom Zachary 12-15 3.85 ERA 1.48 WHIP 0.8 PW 13 WS 3.3 WARP3
Once again Zachary followed up a very good season with a not-as-good season. In truth, he was very unlucky in 1925, having a poor record even though he had a 110 ERA+. Zachary was traded to the Browns after the season ended, and would bounce around from team to team with varying degrees of success (including another stint with Washington) into his 40’s.
All told with Washington, Tom Zachary went 96-103 with a 3.78 ERA (104 ERA+) with 29.7 WARP3.
RP Firpo Marberry 9-5 3.47 ERA 1.38 WHIP 1.0 PW 11 WS 2.8 WARP3
Marberry was once again a very good option out of the bullpen in just about any situation. For the second straight season he led the league with 15 saves.
RP Allen Russell 2-4 5.77 ERA 1.78 WHIP -1.1 PW 0 WS -0.7 WARP3
Russell’s poor season in 1925 was his last.
RP Vean Gregg 2-2 4.12 ERA 1.68 WHIP 0.0 PW 4 WS 0.7 WARP3
At 40 years of age, Gregg had been out of the majors for seven years. He was a very good pitcher in the early 1910’s, when he had three 20-win seasons with Cleveland. A sore arm caught up to him, however, and he never regained that form. His comeback was short-lived, and he was gone after the 1925 season.