1934 Washington Nationals
Manager: Joe Cronin 2nd Season (2nd with Washington 165-139-4)
66 W 86 L 3 T 729 RS 806 RA 7th AL 34 GB (Detroit 101-53)
4.70 RPG (AL = 5.13) 4.68 ERA (AL = 4.50)
.678 DER (6th AL)
All Stars (3) Joe Cronin, Heinie Manush, Jack Russell
Franchise (1901-1934) 2462-2627-79; 8-11 WS
Whatever it was that made Joe Cronin and the Washington Nationals successful in 1933 seemed like ancient history by 1934. The key word being “ancient”. The veteran led team that won 99 games and an AL pennant in 1933 seemingly overnight became the old, injury-plagued team that couldn’t compete.
Things got so bad in Washington that shortly after the season ended, Clark Griffith sold his manager, short stop, and nephew-in-law Joe Cronin to the Boston Red Sox, ending Cronin’s two-year stint as manager.
It was reported that when New York owner Ed Barrow heard the news of the Cronin deal, he phoned Griffith offering Babe Ruth to replace Cronin as player/manager. Griffith didn’t go for it, however, saying that Ruth is “too high-powered for me” – referring to Ruth’s $35,000 salary demand.
Interestingly enough, Cronin’s replacement as manager of the Nats was Bucky Harris, the very man he was replacing as manager in Boston. Both men, of course, led Washington to the AL Pennant in their first seasons as managers.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1934
C Eddie Phillips .195/.306/.278 2 HR -1.2 BFW 2 WS 2 FRAR -0.2 WARP3
The catcher position was a bit of a revolving door in 1934, but journeyman Eddie Phillips played the most games of the four (56). He was called to the team in May from Chatanooga of the Southern Association, and was called the best catcher in that league but The Sporting News. In five previous seasons dating back to 1924, Phillips had played for five different teams. He will make it six teams in six seasons when he is purchased by Cleveland in 1935.
1B Joe Kuhel .289/.364/.392 3 HR -1.1 BFW 5 WS 1 FRAR 1.0 WARP3
Kuhel’s season came to an end in late June when he broke his leg sliding into second base. Pete Susko and Red Kress basically platooned at first base for the rest of the season.
2B Buddy Myer .305/.419/.416 3 HR 2.1 BFW 19 WS 17 FRAR 6.3 WARP3
The 30-year-old Myer had some injury problems of his own, but still played in 139 games. 1934 was his best season with a bat so far, but there are better years to come for Myer.
SS Joe Cronin .284/.353/.421 7 HR 2.4 BFW 17 WS 39 FRAR 6.8 WARP3
Like most Washington players, Cronin had a bit of a down year and missed some time due to inury. Cronin’s last game as a player came on September 3, when he broke his arm after colliding with Boston’s Wes Ferrell at first base. When playing, he was still one of the best shortstops in the game, and commanded a big price when the Nats sold him to Boston after the season ended.
3B Cecil Travis .319/.361/.403 1 HR 0.5 BFW 10 WS 22 FRAR 3.9 WARP3
With Ossie Bluege on his way out, Washington couldn’t have hoped for more success in teh transition. 20-year-old Travis stepped in and held down third base admirably until he was shifted to shortstop in 1936. Travis’ career started with a bang. In his first major league game he recorded five hits.
LF Heinie Manush .349/.392/.523 11 HR 2.0 BFW 20 WS 7 FRAR 6.2 WARP3
This was the 32-year-olds last great season with Washington. He would have a mediocre season in 1935 before being traded to Boston. In 1937 Manush had a pretty good season with Brooklyn, but his production took nose dive in 1938 and he retired after the 1939 campaign. In all, Manush was with the team for six seasons. During that time, he hit .328/.371/.478 with 47 HR and 491 RBI. He may be best remembered, however, as the first player to be ejected from a World Series game when he snapped the umpire’s tie in Game 4 of the 1933 Series.
CF Fred Schulte .298/.363/.399 3 HR -0.8 BFW 13 WS 9 FRAR 3.1 WARP3
Schulte’s playing time and results dipped dramatically in 1935 and he would ultimately spend the final two years of his career in Pittsburgh.
RF John Stone .315/.395/.465 7 HR 1.4 BFW 14 WS 15 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
Washington traded Goose Goslin to Detroit straight up for John Stone. In hindsight, it is easy to question the wisdom of dealing a future Hall of Famer for a guy named John Stone, but it was clear at the time that Goslin was going to be a malcontent in Washington no matter who the manager was. Stone, on the other hand, was lauded as a team player and an “aid to team harmony”. The 28-year-old Stone was no rookie, and he actually put up some pretty good numbers for the Tigers in 1931 and 1932.
History generally suggests that the trade was a bad one for Washington. The Tigers, of course, went on the win the 1934 and 1935 pennants with Goslin, while Washington returned to the second division where they had been so comfortable for the first 20 years of their existence. Forgetting team accomplishments, here are the OPS+ numbers for the two men from 1934-1937:
Stone: 125, 117, 143, 125
Goslin: 112, 101, 128, 86
…and WARP3 for the same time period:
Stone: 5.2, 4.0, 7.5, 7.7
Goslin: 5.4, 4.8, 6.6, 1.5
Though Goslin was the colorful veteran, it is pretty easy to argue that the Nats got the better end of the trade based on statistics (even if you take away the 1937 season, when Goslin was 36 years old).
SP Monte Weaver 11-15 4.79 ERA 1.55 WHIP -1.7 PW 8 WS 1.7 WARP3
After having a couple of very good seasons to start his career in Washington, the Professor started running into some problems in 1934. It is about the same time that it was made public that Weaver ate a vegetarian diet. The strange (at the time) diet was blamed for all of Weaver’s struggles; problems that were so bad they eventually landed him in the minors for much of 1935 and 1936.
SP Earl Whitehill 14-11 4.52 ERA 1.55 WHIP 0.0 PW 14 WS 4.7 WARP3
It’s not really saying much, but Whitehill was probably the most valuable pitcher for the Senators in 1934. Highlights for Whitehill in 1934 included being the first visiting pitcher to start a game in front of the Green Monster in Boston, and pitching a one-hit shutout against the Yankees on May 30.
SP Lefty Stewart 7-11 4.03 ERA 1.45 WHIP 0.5 PW 9 WS 3.6 WARP3
Despite a very ugly win-loss record, Stewart actually had the lowest ERA among Washington’s starting staff. After one horrible game in 1934in which he allowed nine runs in less than three innings pitched, Stewart was traded to Cleveland for a rarely used relief pitcher named Belve Bean, who appeared in 10 games for Washington before he was out of the majors.
SP Tommy Thomas 8-9 5.47 ERA 1.59 WHIP -1.8 PW 5 WS 1.3 WARP3
Like most of the other members of Washington’s rotation, Thomas’ 1934 effort made his days in Washington numbered. He ended up being traded the following May to the Philadelphia A’s.
RP Jack Russell 5-10 4.17 ERA 1.49 WHIP 0.5 PW 11 WS 3.6 WARP3
While Russell’s performance wasn’t great in 1934, he still made it the the second All Star game, more likely due to his 1933 numbers.
RP Bobby Burke 8-8 3.21 ERA 1.35 WHIP 2.0 PW 15 WS 5.6 WARP3
Despite the fact that Burke seemed to be the best pitcher on the staff in 1934, he was only used to start 15 games.
RP Alex McColl 3-4 3.86 ERA 1.47 WHIP 0.2 PW 7 WS 2.0 WARP3
In a story similar to The Rookie, McColl didn’t get a shot in the majors until he was tearing up the league with the Chattanooga Lookouts at the age of 38. He pitched a bit for Washington in the pennant season of 1933, but had his only successful year at the age of 40. After the season, he went back to Chattanooga and immediately took over as the best pitcher on the team in 1935.
RP Alvin Crowder 4-10 6.79 ERA 1.79 WHIP -3.4 PW 0 WS -0.9 WARP3
After a horrible start to the season with Washington, Crowder got a chance to start over when the Tigers took him off of waivers in August. He pitched better with the eventual pennant winners down the stretch, and actually pitched very well in the 1934 World Series. He had another good season in 1935 before he was out of the league in 1936.
1934 World Series
The Cardinals, who overtook the Giants on the last day of the season to win the NL, defeated the Tigers in seven games. The Dean brothers were the stars, winning all four games for the Cards in the series.