1936 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 13th Season (7th with Washington 578-491-10)
82 W 71 L 0 T 889 RS 799 RA 4th AL 20 GB (New York 102-51-2)
5.81 RPG (AL = 5.67) 4.58 ERA (AL = 5.04)
.684 DER (2nd AL)
All Stars (1) Ben Chapman
Franchise (1901-1936) 2611-2784-80; 8-11 WS
Any chance the 1936 Nats had of contending probably went away early in the season. As the Yankees surged to yet another pennant, Washington was plagued by a very slow start. As late in the season as June 21, Washington was playing just .500 baseball.
An illness to a star player was a major factor in the team’s slow start. Buddy Myer, just one year removed from his best season, missed the bulk of the 1936 season due to a stomach ailment. In addition to Myer’s absence, several players slumped in the early months, including Joe Kuhel and Cecil Travis. If not for the emergence of some young players, including C Wally Millies and 3B Buddy Lewis, and some solid performances from the pitching staff; the early season hole may have been even deeper.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1936
C Cliff Bolton .291/.349/.401 2 HR -0.2 BFW 9 WS 14 FRAR 2.1 WARP3
C Wally Millies .312/.345/.377 0 HR -0.2 BFW 6 WS 12 FRAR 1.6 WARP3
An early season injury to Bolton gave a young Wally Millies, purchased from Brooklyn in the offseason, a chance to shine. Once Bolton returned to playing form, he basically platooned with Millies the rest of the season, with Millies primarily playing against left-handed pitching. Bolton will be sold to Detroit early in 1937, while Millies will hang around to be backup catcher for the Nats in 1937.
1B Joe Kuhel .321/.392/.502 16 HR 0.8 BFW 21 WS 10 FRAR 5.6 WARP3
At the age of 30, Kuhel had more HR and RBI (118) than he had in any season prior. For his efforts, Kuhel finished sixth in AL MVP voting.
2B Ossie Bluege .288/.375/.342 1 HR 0.2 BFW 9 WS 22 FRAR 3.0 WARP3
A year after his spectacular season, Buddy Myer fought with a stomach ailment all season and only appeared in 51 games for the Nats. Once again, veteran Ossie Bluege rescued the team by seemingly defying his age to play very well at yet another position on the infield. This will be Bluege’s last season as a regular, however. When Bluege retired after the 1939 season, he had compiled a .272/.352/.365 stat line in 18 seasons. Over that same time period, Bluege compiled 382 FRAR mostly at third base.
SS Cecil Travis .317/.366/.433 2 HR -0.1 BFW 15 WS 12 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
The 22-year-old Travis shifted from 3B to SS in 1936, a position that he would spend most of his career playing. Travis put up numbers very similar to his 1935 stats, which was a bit of a disappointment to Nats’ fans.
3B Buddy Lewis .291/.347/.399 6 HR -0.3 BFW 16 WS 26 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
Buddy Lewis was hailed in Washington as one of the better prospects the team had seen in a while. Due to injuries, the 19-year-old got a chance to show his stuff early in the season. Lewis may have been the reason that the team kept its head above water during the first two months of the season. With many of the Senators’ stars either hurting or slumping (or both), Lewis, it was proclaimed in The Sporting News, got 41 hits in his first 103 at-bats of the season, including a 15-game hitting streak early in May. Though his numbers came down to a more realistic level by the end of the season, Lewis showed consistently good defense at third base, and may have been the best rookie not named DiMaggio playing in 1936.
2B/SS Red Kress .284/.329/.427 8 HR 0.6 BFW 12 WS 16 FRAR 3.2 WARP3
Even with Buddy Myer’s illness, Washington was working with a bit of an embarrassment of riches in the infield. Kress, essentially playing the role of utility man, had a very good season and even showed some power off the bench.
LF John Stone .341/.421/.545 15 HR 2.8 BFW 21 WS 23 FRAR 7.5 WARP3
Stone very quietly had his best major league season in 1936. While he was in the AL’s top ten in most offensive categories, he did not appear on the MVP ballot. Among the most similar batters to Stone according to baseballreference.com is Mike Greenwell, which is probably a pretty good comparison in terms of impact.
CF Ben Chapman .332/.431/.486 4 HR 2.1 BFW 19 WS 11 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
The arrival of Joe DiMaggio in the Bronx made perennial All Star center fielder Ben Chapman expendable. Griffith sent OF Jake Powell to New York in exchange for Chapman, a move that worked out in the short term for Washington. Chapman didn’t stay for long, however, and was traded to the Red Sox in June of 1937. Today, Chapman is probably most famous (or infamous) for his vicious comments directed at Jackie Robinson when he was manager of the Phillies in 1947.
RF Carl Reynolds .276/.329/.392 4 HR -1.1 BFW 6 WS 9 FRAR 1.3 WARP3
Reynolds was one of the pieces that came from Boston in the Heinie Manush trade. This is the same Reynolds that played a solid right field for the Nats in 1932 before being traded in the deal that brought Goose Goslin back to Washington. 33-year-old Reynolds was a lot different than 29-year-old Reynolds, however, and the Nats dealt him to the Minneapolis Millers after the season.
SP Bobo Newsom 17-15 4.32 ERA 1.54 WHIP 1.4 PW 19 WS 6.1 WARP3
This was one of the few years in Bobo’s career that he pitched in the same place for an entire season. It was also his most successful season in Washington.
SP Jimmy DeShong 18-10 4.63 ERA 1.57 WHIP 0.5 PW 14 WS 3.5 WARP3
DeShong spent the previous two seasons with the Yankees, where he was used primarily in relief. 1936 represents his career best season by far. He will slowly decline over the next three years, and will eventually be released by the team.
SP Earl Whitehill 14-11 4.87 ERA 1.61 WHIP 0.2 PW 12 WS 3.2 WARP3
This was Whitehill’s final season with Washington. He was traded to Cleveland as part of a three team trade during the off season. Whitehill spent four years with Washington, but never again recaptured whatever it was that led him to have a career season in 1933.
SP Pete Appleton 14-9 3.53 ERA 1.37 WHIP 3.0 PW 18 WS 6.2 WARP3
Born Peter Jablonowski, he had his name legally changed to Appleton in 1933. Pete had spent six previous seasons in the majors, mostly pitching in relief. Like DeShong, Appleton made the most of his first chance to start regularly, and had a career season. Also like DeShong, Appleton would never again come close to his 1936 numbers.
SP Joe Cascarella 9-8 4.07 ERA 1.44 WHIP 1.2 PW 10 WS 3.4 WARP3
Cascarella came from the Red Sox in an early June trade. After an 0-5 start in 1937, Griffith let him go.
RP Monte Weaver 6-4 4.35 ERA 1.43 WHIP 0.2 PW 6 WS 1.2 WARP3
Upon the advice of the organization, Weaver dropped his vegetarian diet and was back with Washington after a year in the minor leagues. He will return to the starting rotation in 1937.
RP Syd Cohen 0-2 5.25 ERA 1.61 WHIP -0.2 PW 1 WS 0.3 WARP3
Cohen was the only lefty on the staff aside from Whitehill. He spent all three years of his brief career with Washington.
RP Jack Russell 3-2 6.34 ERA 1.83 WHIP -1.2 PW 1 WS -0.9 WARP3
After a terrible start to the season, Russell was traded to Boston in the deal that brought Cascarella to Washington.
RP Firpo Marberry 0-2 3.86 ERA 1.00 WHIP 0.1 PW 1 WS 0.4 WARP3
The 37-year-old Marberry finished his career with five relief appearances for the team that gave him his start. Marberry was more effective than most of the Washington bullpen, but still retired after the 1936 season.
1936 World Series
Some of the names changed, but the Yankee dominance continued with a 4-2 victory over the New York Giants. Joe DiMaggio batted .346/.370/.462 in his first World Series appearance, while veteran Lou Gehrig hit .292/.393/.583 with 2 HR.