1928 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 5th Season (5th with Washington 429-334-9)
75 W 79 L 1 T 718 RS 705 RA 4th AL 26 GB (New York 101-53)
4.63 RPG (AL = 4.76) 3.88 ERA (AL = 4.04)
.698 DER (2nd AL)
Franchise (1901-1928) 1955-2224-72; 7-7 WS
The 1928 uniform added a splash of red.
from the online exhibit at baseballhalloffame.org
After a hold out that lasted much of the winter, Washington star Goose Goslin signed for a $1,000 raise just in time to report to spring training. One day that spring, Goslin happened upon a high school track team practicing the shot put. Goslin was known for challenging other players to tests of speed and strength during the spring, and he was all to quick to show the teens how far he could throw the shot put. Goslin put on a throwing exhibition for the track team, and spent the better part of a half hour showing off his arm. The next morning he couldn’t move his arm.
As it turned out, Goslin’s arm would never be the same. He spent the bulk of the 1928 season with a dead arm. Washington infielders would have to run extra hard on balls hit to left field to get close to Goslin in order to cut off his weak throws.
Fortunately for the Nats, Goslin’s hitting was not affected. Goslin won the AL batting title on the last day of the season, and led Washington in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging.
1928 marked the beginning of the post-Walter Johnson era for the franchise. The Nats managed to put together a nice pitching staff in Johnson’s absence, thanks mostly to outstanding seasons by Sam Jones and Garland Braxton, but they didn’t really have that ace pitcher that Griffith had been used to since 1907. To be clear, Washington’s first losing season since 1923 was a product of weak hitting; but Washington had traditionally been a light-hitting team. The difference in 1928 was that there was no Walter Johnson to bail them out.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1928
C Muddy Ruel .257/.342/.320 0 HR 0.3 BFW 8 WS 33 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
Following the 1928 season, Ruel would finish his career in the veteran backup catcher role. He only played in 108 games in 1928, fewest in his career since 1920 when he was a backup for the Yankees. Ruel will leave Washington after the 1930 season. During his six seasons as the starting catcher in Washington, the Nats won a World Series and narrowly lost another. His final numbers in Washington:
1923-1930: .290/.382/.349 2 HR 10.4 BFW 114 WS 275 FRAR 47.7 WARP3
Ruel’s place in franchise history is pretty secure. He was the best catcher during the Washington years.
1B Joe Judge .306/.396/.417 3 HR 0.8 BFW 17 WS 4 FRAR 4.6 WARP3
Though Judge was 34 years old in 1928, he still had a few good seasons ahead of him. Towards the end of his career, he was less of a defensive player, but still provided very consistent offense.
2B Bucky Harris .204/.264/.263 0 HR -1.9 BFW 4 WS 22 FRAR 0.5 WARP3
The 31-year-old player/manager’s numbers indicate that this was probably the time for him to focus on managing. He would have to do it elsewhere as he was fired at the end of the season. Harris’ playing days were, for the most part, over. He managed in Detroit from 1929-1933, but only appeared in 11 more games as a player. As it turned out, Harris would have two more stints as manager for Clark Griffith. His final numbers as a player in Washington:
1919-1928: .275/.353/.355 9 HR -0.1 BFW 133 WS 264 FRAR 43.8 WARP3
SS Bobby Reeves .303/.351/.419 3 HR 0.0 BFW 9 FRAR 2.3 WARP3
Though Reeves improved on his poor rookie season, it wasn’t enough to keep his job with the Nats. After the 1928 season, Griffith shipped him to Boston as part of a package that brought Buddy Myer back to Washington just over a year after he was traded away. Myer would hold down the shortstop position in Washington for more than a decade.
3B Ossie Bluege .297/.364/.400 2 HR 2.2 BFW 17 WS 41 FRAR 7.2 WARP3
While most of his teammates had down years relative the their career numbers, Bluege’s 1928 season was probably his best.
LF Goose Goslin .379/.442/.614 17 HR 4.9 BFW 26 WS 16 FRAR 9.1 WARP3
Goslin won the AL batting title with his .379 average, the first and only batting title of his career. He once again had almost half of his team’s home run total.
CF Sam West .302/.338/.442 3 HR -0.3 BFW 10 WS 10 FRAR 2.6 WARP3
CF Red Barnes .305/.391/.472 6 HR 0.8 BFW 17 WS 14 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
A pair of rookies shared center field in Washington for the 1928 season. Both spent some time learning from Tris Speaker the season before. While both lefties had decent seasons, it was West who would ultimately emerge with the regular job, while Barnes was out of the majors by 1931.
RF Sam Rice .328/.379/.438 2 HR -0.6 BFW 19 WS 3 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
Rice rebounded at 38-years-old to his typical career numbers. Age did not seem to catch up with Rice, who would remain a regular into his 40’s.
SP Sam Jones 17-7 2.84 ERA 1.28 WHIP 3.3 PW 22 WS 6.7 WARP3
“Sad” Sam was a veteran of the American League by the time he landed with Washington in 1928. He started with Cleveland at the age of 21 in 1914 and went through Boston, New York, and St. Louis before he was traded to Washington. Jones had a few good seasons along the way, but 1928 was probably the best of his career.
SP Garland Braxton 13-11 2.51 ERA 1.01 WHIP 3.2 PW 21 WS 7.2 WARP3
In the first season in which he was used primarily as a starter, Braxton didn’t disappoint. His 2.51 ERA led the American League.
SP Bump Hadley 12-13 3.54 ERA 1.45 WHIP 1.4 PW 16 WS 5.0 WARP3
Bump came back down to earth after a very good rookie season. His numbers in 1928 ended up being a lot closer to his career numbers.
SP Milt Gaston 6-12 5.51 ERA 1.56 WHIP -2.5 PW 1 WS -0.4 WARP3
Gaston also came to Washington as part of the trade that brought Sam Jones. While Jones had a career season, Gaston had a career worst season, and was shipped to Boston in the off season as part of the Buddy Myer trade.
RP Firpo Marberry 13-13 3.85 ERA 1.25 WHIP 0.1 PW 11 WS 3.6 WARP3
Marberry continued to be one of the better AL relievers, but was not as dominant as he had been a few years earlier. 1928 was the start of his transition to the starting rotation.
RP Lloyd Brown 4-4 4.04 ERA 1.42 WHIP 0.0 PW 5 WS 1.3 WARP3
Brown will eventually transition to the rotation, where he will become one of Washington’s biggest winners if the first few years of the 30’s.
1928 World Series
The Yankees swept the Cardinals behind a .545/.706/1.727 effort from Lou Gehrig that included four home runs and nine RBI. It was New York’s third World Series victory in the decade.