1937 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 14th Season (8th with Washington 651-571-15)
73 W 80 L 5 T 757 RS 841 RA 6th AL 28.5 GB (New York 102-52-3)
4.79 RPG (AL = 5.23) 4.58 ERA (AL = 4.62)
.692 DER (4th AL)
All Stars (3) Rick Ferrell, Wes Ferrell, Buddy Myer
Franchise (1901-1937) 2684-2864-85; 8-11 WS
The franchise took another step back in 1937, and had its third losing season in the last four years, and seemed quite a bit more than just four years removed from its last AL Pennant. The team stumbled out of the gate, going just 1-6 in its first seven games, and never really got back on track.
In early July, Washington played a three-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx. The resulting frustration is a great illustration of the Nats’ entire season. The eventual World Series Champions knocked the Senators around in all facets of the game in a 16-2 win in game one. Joe DiMaggio, in his second year, went 5-for-5 against Nats’ pitching at hit for the cycle. In that same game, a benches-clearing brawl erupted, and Joe Kuhel was ejected along with New York’s Jake Powell, who got into it over a week-old issue. The Yankees took game two 12-2, and though Washington was able to make it interesting in the finale, the Yankees won that game as well, 4-3, outscoring the Nats 32-7 over the series.
The Yankee dominance over Washington was nothing new. From 1935-1937, Washington won just 22 out of 66 games between the two teams, a .333 winning percentage.
Yankees aside, the big news was a mid-season trade between the Nats and the Red Sox. There had been rumors for weeks in advance that a trade would go down, and the Sporting News nailed the names about a week before the trade actually happened. Washington sent Bobo Newsom and Ben Chapman, both of whom had worn out their welcome in Washington, to Boston in exchange for a battery of brothers, Wes and Rick Ferrell (the former who was also becoming a headache in Boston) and out fielder Mel Almada.
The deal ended up being one of those that worked out for both teams. Boston got some star power, Washington got a very good catcher to fill a hole, and both teams were able to unload some headaches. It all worked out very well for both teams when a post-trade game featuring the Newsom-Ferrell pitching matchup drew 22,000 to Griffith Stadium for a late June game.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1937
C Rick Ferrell .229/.348/.262 1 HR -1.4 BFW 6 WS 10 FRAR 1.1 WARP3
By the time Rick Ferrell made his way to Washington he was a veteran of eight major league seasons and had already established himself as one of the premier catchers in the game. At 5’10” 16o lbs, Ferrell was built like a catcher. He grew up on a farm in North Carolina, one of seven brothers, including pitcher Wes, who he caught in Boston with the Red Sox and now in Washington. Rick’s numbers in 1937 were pretty indicative of his career, though he typically carried a higher batting average. Still, it was his OBP that usually stood out, a product of very good plate discipline.
1B Joe Kuhel .283/.357/.400 6 HR -1.4 BFW 14 WS 19 FRAR 4.9 WARP3
On May 13, 1937 in a game at Chicago, Kuhel tied a record with three triples in one game. White Sox management must have taken notice, because after the 1937 season they traded the very popular Zeke Bonura to Washington in exchange for Kuhel.
2B Buddy Myer .293/.407/.384 1 HR -0.2 BFW 15 WS 19 FRAR 5.3 WARP3
Myer rebounded from his stomach ailment the year before to have a solid season in 1937. Still, at the age of 33, his days of playing in 140+ games at second base were over, though he did still appear in 119 games in 1937.
SS Cecil Travis .344/.395/.439 3 HR 1.3 BFW 22 WS 47 FRAR 9.5 WARP3
Somewhat under appreciated (Travis was not among the Senators who appeared in the All Star Game), Travis may have been the team’s MVP in 1937. The 23-year-old enjoyed his best season so far, including a game-winning hit late in the season against Boston that helped to eliminate the Red Sox from contention. All of his defensive numbers indicate that he was among the elite at his position, both with the bat and in the field.
3B Buddy Lewis .314/.367/.425 10 HR -1.0 BFW 20 WS 16 FRAR 5.9 WARP3
After fading a bit down the stretch in 1936, Buddy Lewis was a bit more consistent in his sophomore effort. He led the team in home runs with 10, and total bases with 284. THe highlight of the season for Lewis was an eight hit day, executed during a doubleheader against the Browns on July 25. Though Lewis demonstrated some range at third base, he had trouble handling the ball, and was charged with 29 errors, including four in the same game on August 10.
LF Al Simmons .279/.329/.434 8 HR -0.7 BFW 11 WS 20 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
Simmons, who had been quite a power hitter for the A’s and the White Sox in his prime, was 35 years old when the Senators purchased him for $15,000 in April of 1937 to fill a hole in the outfield. It looked as though Simmons might supply some much-needed power for Washington when he homered in the season opener at Yankee Stadium. Unforunately, Simmons would connect with just seven more home runs in 1937, though he would show flashed of his old self in 1938.
CF Mel Almada .309/.365/.404 4 HR 0.6 BFW 14 WS 19 FRAR 4.6 WARP3
Ben Chapman started the season in center field for Washington, but was traded to Boston in early June. The Mexican-born Almada, who came from the Red Sox in the same trade, was essentially a throw-in, but he ended up with about the same number that would have been expected from Chapman, minus the baggage. After a slow start in 1938, however, Almada was quickly traded to the Browns.
RF John Stone .330/.403/.480 6 HR 2.1 BFW 22 WS 20 FRAR 7.7 WARP3
Stone was, without question, the team’s best hitter in 1937. Though his home run number was low, he led the team in slugging, OPS (.883), doubles (33), and triples (15). History may have been kinder to Stone, who hit .310/.376/.467 for his career, had he played longer. An illness ended Stone’s playing days in 1938, when he was only 32 years old.
SP Wes Ferrell 11-13 3.94 ERA 1.45 WHIP 1.5 PW 13 WS 5.1 WARP3
Though he came to the team late, Ferrell was Washington’s most reliable and successful pitcher in 1937. Ferrell, however, was used to winning more. In eight previous seasons, he had won 20+ games six times, including 25 wins in 1935 and 20 in 1936. Though he pitched reasonably well for Washington in the season and a half that he was there, he didn’t approach those numbers, in part due to a lack of run support, though Ferrell didn’t pitch as well as he had earlier in his career either.
SP Jimmy DeShong 14-15 4.90 ERA 1.57 WHIP -0.8 PW 11 WS 3.7 WARP3
DeShong, who was notoriously wild, set a career mark in that regard in 1937. He walked 124 batters during the season, compared to 86 strikeouts in 264 innings pitched. To his credit, however, he was able to get through the season with just three wild pitches.
SP Monte Weaver 12-9 4.20 ERA 1.42 WHIP 0.6 PW 11 WS 3.7 WARP3
Weaver became a part of the starting rotation for the first time since 1934. He made some changes in the years in between, including dropping his vegetarian diet which was pretty universally blamed for his poor performance over the last several years (though it is reported that he was on the diet during his good seasons as well).
SP Pete Appleton 8-15 4.39 ERA 1.42 WHIP -0.3 PW 7 WS 2.8 WARP3
Though his pitching numbers weren’t particularly strong, Appleton provided his own run support on May 30 when he knocked in six RBI in a 4-for-5 effort against the Red Sox. He RBI total for the season: 7.
RP Syd Cohen 2-4 3.11 ERA 1.47 WHIP 0.6 PW 4 WS 1.5 WARP3
Cohen’s best season was his last, but his numbers indicate that he was one of the better relief pitchers in baseball.
RP Ed Linke 6-1 5.60 ERA 1.69 WHIP -0.7 PW 4 WS 1.1 WARP3
The only thing that Linke seemed to do well in his last season with Washington was eat innings. He appeared in 36 games (7 starts) and pitched 128.7 innings.
1937 World Series
The Yankees made it two in a row over the cross-town Giants with a 4-1 World Series victory. This time, the Yanks did it with pitching, allowing the Giants, who led the NL in home runs that year, just over two runs per game in the series.