1930 Washington Nationals
Manager: Walter Johnson 2nd Season (2nd with Washington 165-141-1)
94 W 60 L 892 RS 689 RA 2nd AL 8 GB (Philadelphia 102-52)
5.79 RPG (AL = 5.41) 3.96 ERA (AL = 4.64)
.702 DER (1st AL)
Franchise (1901-1930) 2120-2365-73; 7-7 WS
Under the guidance of Walter Johnson, Washington’s pitching staff was once again among the AL’s best in 1930. What was different that season, however, was the fact that the offense was also among the AL’s best. Though the team still lagged behind in home run production, thanks in part to Griffith Stadium, it was among the league leaders in batting average, on base percentage, and finished second in AL triples with 98.
All of the parts came together to give Washington its best season since 1925. The biggest reason may have been Joe Cronin. The young shortstop had been good in his first season with Washington, but emerged as one of the league’s elite in 1930.
Despite the second place finish, however, all was not roses in the Washington. After months of speculation and a poor start in Washington, Goose Goslin was finally traded to St. Louis in June. He went on a tear the rest of the year with the Browns, hitting 30 home runs from mid-June to the end of the year.
After the Goslin trade, tragedy struck when manager Walter Johnson’s wife Hazel died from exhaustion after a cross country trip on August 1, 1930. Johnson took a short break from managing to mourn, leaving Joe Judge in charge for a few games.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1930
C Roy Spencer .255/.303/.315 0 HR -0.8 BFW 7 WS 26 FRAR 1.9 WARP3
Spencer came to Washington in 1929 after having spent three seasons in Pittsburgh as a third-string catcher. He was ruled a free agent by Judge Landis who said that Pittsburgh had unfairly restricted his chances to play. In 1930, at the age of 30 he played in 93 games for Johnson and the Senators; 43 more than his busiest season prior.
1B Joe Judge .326/.410/.509 10 HR 1.6 BFW 18 WS 12 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
1930 marked the end of an era. It was the last season that Joe Judge was a regular first baseman in Washington. He would remain on the roster for two more years, but total just over 400 plate appearances in that time. Judge hoped to be named the new manager of the Senators for the 1933 season, but was passed over by Clark Griffith in favor of Joe Cronin. Judge retired following the 1934 season after two years playing part time for the Dodgers and the Red Sox.
It was likely strange for Washington fans to see somebody else at first base. Judge had been the starter there since 1916. Here are his numbers in Washington:
.299/.379/.423 71 HR 115 OPS+ 9.4 BFW 270 WS 144 FRAR 71.9 WARP3
On top of his offensive numbers, Judge was considered one of the better fielders of his time, and led AL first basemen in fielding five times.
Judge spent the bulk of his retirement years coaching baseball at Georgetown University. He took some time off from that to coach the Senators in 1945 and 1946. He was reportedly offered the job as manager for the 1947 season, but he turned it down because he didn’t want to be traveling that much. Judge passed away in 1968 when he suffered a heart attack while shoveling snow at his Washington DC home.
2B Buddy Myer .303/.373/.377 2 HR -1.6 BFW 14 WS 13 FRAR 2.7 WARP3
Though Myer batted .300 or above for the third straight season, his value was limited due to his low slugging percentage. His OPS+ was 91 in 1930, partially due to the strength of other second basemen in the league (Charlie Gehringer, Tony Lazzeri, Max Bishop, and Johnny Hodapp). Fortunately for Myer, .377 slugging will remain a career low in season that he played more than 100 games.
SS Joe Cronin .346/.422/.513 13 HR 6.9 BFW 33 WS 62 FRAR 12.4 WARP3
Cronin took a giant step up from his solid season in 1929, and was named unofficial AL MVP by the AP and the Sporting News for his performance in 1930 (for the second straight year there was no official MVP ballot). Though he would go on to have several outstanding season in his career, 1930 may have been his best (though an argument could be made for his 1938 season in Boston).
3B Ossie Bluege .290/.368/.395 3 HR 0.4 BFW 14 WS 27 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
Coming off of his injury year in 1929, Bluege returned to form with pretty typical numbers for his career.
LF Goose Goslin .271/.344/.495 7 HR -0.5 BFW 5 WS -1 FRAR 0.8 WARP3
LF Heinie Manush .362/.406/.559 7 HR 1.2 BFW 17 WS 5 FRAR 3.9 WARP3
In 1930 the slow chain of events finally led to the trade that sent future Hall of Famer Goose Goslin to St. Louis (read more about the circumstances surrounding the trade here). As part of the deal, Griffith got Heinie Manush, a former teammate of Ty Cobb, to replace Goslin in left. Although Goslin’s power finally exploded in St. Louis, Manush filled in for the star admirably, and had several solid seasons with Washington.
CF Sam West .328/.385/.474 6 HR 0.7 BFW 18 WS 23 FRAR 5.0 WARP3
West had his breakout year in 1930, proving that he could hit for average and even a little power.
RF Sam Rice .349/.407/.457 1 HR 0.9 BFW 23 WS 18 FRAR 6.0 WARP3
At the age of 40 Sam Rice showed that he wasn’t ready to retire quite yet. Interestingly, Rice was only the sixth oldest player in the league in 1930.
SP Bump Hadley 15-11 3.73 ERA 1.33 WHIP 2.2 PW 21 WS 5.9 WARP3
Hadley rebounded from a terrible 1929 season to be one of the better pitchers on the much improved Washington staff. Interestingly, some of Hadley’s numbers didn’t change a great deal from year to year (these are Baseball Prospectus translated numbers, so they are normalized across eras).
1929: 7.9 H/9; 1.0 HR/9; 3.9 BB/9; 8.2 K/9
1930: 8.3 H/9; 0.6 HR/9; 3.8 BB/9; 8.0 K/9
Aside from a slight correction in the home run department, those two sets of numbers indicate that not much had changed for Hadley between 1929 and 1930. Still, he managed to shave almost two full runs from his ERA.
SP Alvin “General” Crowder 15-9 3.60 ERA 1.27 WHIP 2.0 PW 17 WS 4.2 WARP3
Crowder came to Washington in June as a part of the Goslin trade. This was his second stint in a Washington uniform, and would be his most successful, as he would become one of the better pitchers in the league during the early 1930’s.
SP Sam Jones 15-7 4.07 ERA 1.40 WHIP 0.9 PW 13 WS 2.8 WARP3
The 4.07 ERA doesn’t look very impressive, but it was more than a half run better than the league average, so the 37-year-old veteran had a nice little season for the Nats.
SP Firpo Marberry 15-5 4.09 ERA 1.31 WHIP 1.5 PW 3.9 WARP3
Though not as impressive as his 1929 season, Marberry’s solid numbers made Washington very deep in starting pitching.
SP Lloyd Brown 16-12 4.25 ERA 1.45 WHIP 1.7 PW 15 WS 4.5 WARP3
Brown, who came out of the bullpen in 1929, established himself as a pretty good starter in 1930.
RP Garland Braxton 3-2 3.29 ERA 1.13 WHIP 0.7 PW 4 WS 1.1 WARP3
Though Braxton was traded away in June, he is still worth a mention the 1930 team because he was probably the most effective reliever going when he was sent to the White Sox. Things didn’t work out so well for Braxton, who posted a 6.45 ERA the rest of the season in Chicago, and would only see ERA’s north of that the rest of his career. On the Washington end of things, Johnson said that the deal made the starters better because they weren’t expecting Braxton to bail them out of trouble.
RP Ad Liska 9-7 3.29 ERA 1.40 WHIP 1.7 PW 12 WS 3.4 WARP3
Liska, who attended the University of Nebraska, is probably better known for his time with the Portland Beavers in the Pacific Coast League from 1936-1949. This was the submariner’s best season in the majors.
RP Bobby Burke 3-4 3.63 ERA 1.22 WHIP 0.3 PW 6 WS 0.9 WARP3
This was Burke’s best season so far.
1930 World Series
The Philadelphia A’s defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in a series that was dominated by pitchers, most notable George Earnshaw (2-0, 0.72) and Lefty Grove (2-1, 1.42).