1927 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 4th Season (4th with Washington 354-255-8)
85 W 69 L 3 T 782 RS 730 RA 3rd AL 25.0 GB (New York 110-44-1)
4.98 RPG (AL = 4.92) 3.97 ERA (AL = 4.14)
.697 DER (2nd AL)
Franchise (1901-1927) 1880-2145-71; 7-7 WS
1927 was a transition year for Washington. Though the team finished with a winning record, it was never really in a pennant race dominated by one of the greatest teams of all time. The core of the team that had won the World Series three years ago was still in Washington, but they were aging.
Slowly, over the next few years, the remaining pieces of Washington’s first and only championship would leave town. The new names were already starting to take over, particularly on the pitching staff where Johnson, Zachary, and Marberry were the only hold overs from the 1924 team. 1927 would be the last winning season with this group
There was some buzz surrounding two stories in the spring of 1927. The first was the acquisition of Tris Speaker, the second a spring injury to Walter Johnson. Speaker had a nice season for the Nats in 1927, while the line drive Johnson took off of the bat of Joe Judge in a practice game in March likely hastened the end of his legendary career.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1927
C Muddy Ruel .308/.403/.376 1 HR 1.4 BFW 20 WS 38 FRAR 6.7 WARP3
From 1923-1927 Ruel was one of the better catchers in the league. At the age of 31, Ruel appeared in 131 games, though he only caught in 101 of those. His playing time would drop in 1928 as he started to show his age.
1B Joe Judge .308/.366/.418 2 HR -1.1 BFW 16 WS 8 FRAR 3.6 WARP3
Judge’s production fell off a bit from his career numbers, but he will rebound and have a couple of decent years ahead of him. His 1927 season is probably remembered best for the line drive he hit Walter Johnson with that broke the star pitcher’s foot in spring training.
2B Bucky Harris .267/.363/.328 1 HR -0.2 BFW 13 WS 34 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
On July 11th, Harris stole home in the bottom of the tenth to score the winning run in a game against Cleveland. The 30-year-old player/manager played fewer than 140 games for the first time since 1920. He would continue to write himself out of the lineup in 1928, his last year as Washington’s player/manager.
SS Bobby Reeves .255/.296/.318 1 HR -2.2 BFW 6 WS 12 FRAR 0.6 WARP3
Though Griffith traded Buddy Myer to Boston in exchange for Topper Rigney, it was Bobby Reeves who took over the regular shortstop job in 1927. Rigney’s career was over after the 1927 season, while Reeves actually had a pretty good year in 1928. As it stood, his rookie numbers were very forgettable.
3B Ossie Bluege .274/.354/.362 1 HR 1.5 BFW 18 WS 42 FRAR 6.2 WARP3
After a bit of a down year with the glove, Bluege re-established himself as the premier fielding third baseman in the league in 1927. The 26-year-old’s numbers at the plate were just what was expected.
LF Goose Goslin .334/.392/.516 13 HR 1.6 BFW 28 WS 9 FRAR 6.7 WARP3
It was a good thing for the Nats that Goslin could supply some power. He had 13 of the team’s 29 total home runs in 1927; no other player on the team had more than two. The star left fielder had clearly taken over as the team’s best player in 1927.
CF Tris Speaker .327/.395/.444 2 HR 0.7 BFW 21 WS 12 FRAR 5.1 WARP3
Clark Griffith didn’t know it at the time, but the team he put together in 1927 had three future Hall-of-Famers in the outfield. Speaker signed with Washington as a free agent after Cleveland released him in the wake of a gambling scandal (he was cleared of any wrong doing by Commissioner Landis). This was his only season in Washington, but at the age of 39, Speaker was still able to play. He was easily Washington’s second best hitter in 1927, and stole nine bases despite his age. His Washington career was brief, however, and Speaker was released in the winter after the season. He played one more year with Philadelphia before he retired from baseball.
RF Sam Rice .297/.336/.408 2 HR -1.8 BFW 17 WS 18 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
37-year-old Sam Rice had his worst season in 1927. For the first (and only) time in his Washington career he was a below-average hitter. Rice’s problems were primarily a product of a horrible start. It was so bad during the season that Bucky Harris was quoted as saying that his prospects for starting in 1928 “were not very bright.” There were even some rumors that Griffith was shopping the star hitter for a trade. Though he showed that he could still hit by turning his season around in the summer, Rice still had to fight for his job the next season. Rice stayed with the team and rebounded in 1928, indicating that his poor play early in the 1927 season was likely caused by health problems he had in the spring, not by a decline in skills.
SP Walter Johnson 5-6 5.10 ERA 1.29 WHIP -0.4 PW 5 WS 1.4 WARP3
The spring injury created a situation where Walter Johnson ended his career with a whimper rather than with a bang, but the circumstances surrounding his final season did not diminish the career of the man who remain the greatest player in franchise history 80 years later.
Johnson’s career numbers: 417-279 2.17 ERA (146 ERA+) 1.06 WHIP 89.9 PW 560 WS 203.2 WARP3
He remains baseball’s all-time leader in career shutouts with 110 and PW with 89.9. He is second only to Cy Young in wins, and is eighth on the all-time ERA list. His 1913 season still stands as one of the greatest single seasons in history. Walter Johnson is, hands down, the greatest player in the history of the franchise.
SP Hod Lisenbee 18-9 3.57 ERA 1.24 WHIP 0.7 PW 16 WS 4.8 WARP3
Lisenbee’s first season in the majors was undoubtedly his best. His career highlight was defeating the 1927 Yankees five times during the season. 1928 would be a horrible year for Lisenbee, and his last in Washington. He spent most of the rest of his career in Boston with the Red Sox, and actually made a brief comeback with Cincinnati in 1945 at the age of 46.
SP Sloppy Thurston 13-13 4.47 ERA 1.53 WHIP -0.1 PW 12 WS 3.0 WARP3
Ironically, “Sloppy” wasn’t sloppy at all. Hollis John Thurston was actually considered to be very meticulous and neat. He came to Washington in the trade that sent Roger Peckinpaugh to the White Sox. He won 20 games with the Sox in 1924, but had struggled ever since. He rebounded a bit in his only season with Washington, but it wasn’t enough to earn a spot on the 1928 roster. Thurston pitched in the PCL for two years before returning to the majors with Brooklyn in 1930.
SP Bump Hadley 14-6 2.85 ERA 1.32 WHIP 2.7 PW 19 WS 6.5 WARP3
Bump, along with Sloppy and Hod could have been pitching for the all-nickname team, but as it was were all pitching for Bucky Harris in 1927. Hadley used a very good curveball to put together a nice rookie season. Though he stayed with Washington for five more seasons, this would be his best.
RP Garland Braxton 10-9 2.95 ERA 1.14 WHIP 2.3 PW 17 WS 6.0 WARP3
Braxton was one of the PTBNL’s in the trade that sent Dutch Reuther to New York. The screwballer had decent numbers for the Yankees in limited playing time, but quickly became another in a line of bullpen aces created in Washington. In 1928 he would be used primarily as a starter.
RP Firpo Marberry 10-7 4.64 ERA 1.58 WHIP -1.4 PW 8 WS 1.8 WARP3
1927 was easily the worst season in Marberry’s career. He pitched better in 1928, but was used mostly as a starter for the rest of his career.
1927 World Series
Considered one of the best (if not the best) teams ever, the murderer’s row Yankees swept Pittsburgh in four straight, outscoring the Pirates 23-10. Babe Ruth had two home runs, which interestingly was all the Yankees would hit in the series.