1938 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 15th Season (9th with Washington 726-647-16)
75 W 76 L 1 T 814 RS 873 RA 5th AL 23.5 GB (New York 99-53-5)
5.36 RPG (AL = 5.37) 4.94 ERA (AL = 4.79)
.689 DER (4th AL)
All Stars (3) Rick Ferrell, Buddy Lewis, Cecil Travis
Franchise (1901-1938) 2759-2940-86; 8-11 WS
Things were looking great for Washington, who sat in first place with a 16-8 record on May 12. They went on to lose nine of their next 11 games, and hovered around the .500 mark for the rest of the season.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1938
C Rick Ferrell .292/.401/.382 1 HR 0.8 BFW 16 WS 22 FRAR 5.7 WARP3
After a bit of an off year in 1937, Ferrell returned to the form that made him one of the most respected catchers in baseball.
Ferrell: Year – Team – WARP3
1931 STL(A) 5.3
1932 STL(A) 5.9
1933 STL(A); BOS(A) 6.7
1934 BOS(A) 5.2
1935 BOS(A) 6.0
1936 BOS(A) 6.0
1937 BOS(A); WAS 2.3
1938 WAS 5.7
At 32-years-old, however, Ferrell wasn’t getting any younger. 1938 would be his best season in a Washington uniform.
1B Zeke Bonura .289/.346/.472 22 HR -0.4 BFW 16 WS 9 FRAR 4.6 WARP3
Bonura was a fan favorite in Chicago, and one of the better power-hitting first basemen of his day. On the other hand, Bonura was lazy on the field, often allowing easy grounders to go by to keep his fielding percentage high; and a distraction off, holding out almost annually and taking a very public interest in Charlie Comiskey’s daughter. All of the led to the White Sox essentially swapping first basemen with Washington.
Despite the fact that he showed more power with Washington then anybody not named Goslin, Bonura did not last long with the team. With a young Mickey Vernon waiting in the wings, Bonura became expendable after one season and was dealt to the Giants in exchange for two players who never played for Washington and cash.
2B Buddy Myer .336/.454/.465 6 HR 3.5 BFW 24 WS 41 FRAR 10.7 WARP3
At age 34, Myer had his best season as a pro, setting career highs in OBP, HR, and OPS+ (137).
SS Cecil Travis .335/.401/.432 5 HR 2.1 BFW 20 WS 42 FRAR 9.7 WARP3
Pretty consistent with his numbers the year before, Travis finally got some recognition and was voted to the All Star team.
3B Buddy Lewis .296/.354/.431 12 HR 0.2 BFW 20 WS 12 FRAR 5.3 WARP3
At 21, Lewis’ numbers looked a lot like the season before. He was still somewhat of a liability in the field, committing a personal high 47 errors in 1938.
LF Al Simmons .302/.357/.511 21 HR 0.3 BFW 16 WS 15 FRAR 5.8 WARP3
Clark Griffith sold Simmons to the Boston Bees for $3,000 after the season ended. Interestingly, Griffith had two 20+ home run hitters on the same team for the first time in franchise history, and neither of them were kept for the next season.
CF Sam West .302/.363/.430 5 HR -0.3 BFW 10 WS 12 FRAR 3.6 WARP3
After a five-year absence, West returned to the team that he started his career with when he was traded by the Browns for Mel Almada in June. The 33-year-old has one more good season in him.
RF George Case .305/.362/.395 2 HR -1.2 BFW 10 WS 6 FRAR 2.9 WARP3
As a rookie, Case had not quite discovered what the stolen base could do for him. He became one of baseball’s top base-stealing threats the following season.
OF Taffy Wright .350/.389/.517 2 HR 0.7 BFW 10 WS 5 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
Wright started his career as a pitcher, but was switched to the outfield in the minor leagues. As a fielder he looked like, well, a converted pitcher; but as a hitter he was outstanding. Wright was used a lot as a pinch hitter late in games, and was 13-for-39 in those situations. His first chance to play every day would come in 1939.
OF Goose Goslin .158/.262/.316 2 HR -0.5 BFW 0 WS 1 FRAR 0.0 WARP3
At age 37, Goslin came back to Washington for one final season. The highlight of the future Hall of Famer’s final season was a pinch-hit home run against the Yankees.
SP Dutch Leonard 12-15 3.43 ERA 1.23 WHIP 2.8 PW 17 WS 6.4 WARP3
After a pretty good season with Brooklyn in 1934, Leonard started to have problems with a sore arm. He spent the bulk of 1935-1937 in the minor leagues developing what had previously been thought of as only a trick pitch into his major out pitch. When Leonard came back to the majors, he became one of the first pitchers in baseball to use the knuckleball as his exclusive out pitch. Though he was already 29 years old, Leonard’s career essentially began in 1938.
SP Wes Ferrell 13-8 5.92 ERA 1.75 WHIP -1.9 PW 6 WS 1.3 WARP3
On June 12, Ferrell was spotted an 11-1 lead by his teammates against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers stormed back, scoring 17 runs, most of which came off of Ferrell, on their way to an 18-12 victory. Ferrell’s year long struggles resulted in his release from Washington in August.
SP Ken Chase 9-10 5.58 ERA 1.76 WHIP -1.4 PW 6 WS 2.2 WARP3
The 24-year-old Chase had started some for Washington over the previous two seasons, but 1938 was his first chance as a regular. The lefty struggled with control, allowing 113 walks in 150 innings. As it turned out, he would continue to fight with his control throughout his major league career.
SP Monte Weaver 7-6 5.24 ERA 1.66 WHIP -0.5 PW 6 WS 1.8 WARP3
The 32-year-old starter was sold to the Red Sox before the start of the 1939 season, ending his eight year career with Washington. During that time, Weaver was 70-50 with a 4.32 ERA (102 ERA+).
RP Pete Appleton 7-9 4.60 ERA 1.42 WHIP 0.1 PW 10 WS 3.2 WARP3
Appleton always made regular appearances out of the bullpen, but this was the first season in which he was used primarily in that role.
RP Harry Kelley 9-8 4.49 ERA 1.40 WHIP 0.0 PW 8 WS 2.7 WARP3
Kelley originally came up with Washington in 1925, but spent most of his career in the minor leagues until 1936, when the Philadelphia A’s gave him a shot as a starter. After a successful rookie season, Kelly lost 21 games in 1937, and was ultimately released by the A’s in the middle of 1938.
RP Chief Hogsett 5-6 6.03 ERA 1.57 WHIP -1.4 PW 3 WS 0.5 WARP3
The lefty was one of the top relievers for Detroit during the championship seasons of the mid-1930’s, and landed in Washington as his career was winding down.
RP Joe Krakauskas 7-4 3.12 ERA 1.54 WHIP 1.3 PW 10 WS 3.6 WARP3
Krakauskas was a native of Montreal and probably was the more reliable Washington reliever in 1938.
RP Jimmie DeShong 5-8 6.58 ERA 1.85 WHIP -2.0 PW 2 WS 0.4 WARP3
DeShong had another poor start to 1939, and was sold with an ERA of 8.63 in June of 1939.
1938 World Series
Behind the rotation of Red Ruffing, Monte Pearson, and Left Gomez, the New York Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs in four games.