1941 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 18th Season (12th with Washington 925-908-19)
70 W 84 L 2 T 728 RS 798 RA T 6th AL 31 GB (New York 101-53-2)
4.67 RPG (AL = 4.74) 4.35 ERA (AL = 4.15)
.680 DER (8th AL)
All Stars (2) Sid Hudson, Cecil Travis
Franchise (1901-1941) 2958-3201-89; 8-11 WS
The big news of 1941, of course, was the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December. That event would change the course of events for the entire nation, including baseball, which would look very different during the war years.
Though the focus of Washington the summer before that was on the events in Europe, 1941 produced two major baseball stories as well. That was the year in which Ted Williams batted .406, the first player to hit over .400 since 1930, and the last player to do so. Williams also hit his famous game-winning All Star home run in the 1941 game, and was five RBI short of winning the AL triple crown.
Williams’ accomplishment, however, were overshadowed by Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak that carried the nation’s interest over two months from May to July.
Baseball was not as interesting to the Washington fan. The Nats finished with a losing record and were well out of contention in the American League for the fifth consecutive season. There were a few bright spots, but, for the most part, 1941 was an ugly year in Washington.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1941
C Jake Early .287/.338/.468 10 HR 0.2 BFW 11 WS 7 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
On May 15, Washington traded Rick Ferrell to St. Louis for a veteran pitcher named Vern Kennedy. In Ferrell’s place came Jake Early. Early had backed up Ferrell for a couple of years, but finally became the starting catcher when Ferrell left in 1941.
1B Mickey Vernon .299/.352/.443 9 HR -1.0 BFW 16 WS -4 FRAR 3.5 WARP3
After a full year in the minors, Mickey Vernon was back to claim the starting first base job. Unlike in his first attempt in 1939, Vernon had success in 1941, and was able to secure the first base job.
2B Jimmy Bloodworth .245/.303/.346 7 HR 1.5 BFW 12 WS 44 FRAR 5.3 WARP3
Bloodworth excelled with his glove and range at second base, but didn’t hit enough in his era. He was traded to Detroit after the ’41 season.
SS Cecil Travis .359/.410/.520 7 HR 5.1 BFW 34 WS 40 FRAR 12.3 WARP3
At 27 years of age, Cecil Travis had his finest season. He finished in the top 10 in the league in most offensive categories, and finished sixth in AL MVP voting. Before he plays another season, Travis will join the army. His service in the war is distinguished, and he was notably involved in the Battle of the Bulge. Unfortunately, Travis contracted a severe case of frost bite from the war, and would not be the same player when he returned in 1945. Travis’ career arch looked to be leading towards the Hall of Fame, but he basically lost the rest of his career due to the war.
3B George Archie .269/.324/.367 3 HR -1.1 BFW 8 WS 3 FRAR 1.5 WARP3
After spending a few games with Detroit in 1938, George Archie was playing in the PCL with Seattle. The Nats needed a third baseman, and picked Archie up in the rule 5 draft in 1940. Archie played 105 games with the team before he was traded to St. Louis for Bobby Estalella in September.
LF George Case .271/.325/.354 2 HR -0.9 BFW 15 WS 30 FRAR 5.6 WARP3
Case moved from center to left field in 1941, and though he only stole 33 bases, he still led the AL for the third consecutive season.
CF Doc Cramer .273/.317/.338 2 HR -3.8 BFW 11 WS -2 FRAR 0.7 WARP3
35-year-old Doc Cramer came from Boston in a straight up deal for Gee Walker. In his prime, he had been one of the best center fielders in the league, but had clearly lost more than a few steps by the time 1941 came. At the end of the season, Cramer was traded to Detroit in the deal with Bloodworth.
RF Buddy Lewis .297/.386/.434 9 HR 1.7 BFW 22 WS 26 FRAR 8.1 WARP3
Just like the other offensive star of 1941 Cecil Travis, Lewis would miss a few years due to the war. The difference is that Lewis was able to have some success upon his return, but he missed his 25 to 27-year-old seasons to the war, leaving many to wonder what his career would have looked like if uninterrupted.
SP Dutch Leonard 18-13 3.45 ERA 1.27 WHIP 1.3 PW 19 WS 6.5 WARP3
The knuckleballer will miss most of 1942 with a broken ankle, but will return to anchor the Washington rotation in 1943.
SP Sid Hudson 13-14 3.46 ERA 1.36 WHIP 1.3 PW 17 WS 6.1 WARP3
Although Hudson’s win-loss record doesn’t look nearly as good as it did a year earlier, all of the other numbers indicate that Hudson took a step forward from his rookie season. According to adjusted ERA+ (117), 1941 is among the best years in Hudson’s career.
SP Ken Chase 6-18 5.08 ERA 1.67 WHIP -2.4 PW 4 WS 1.8 WARP3
After Leonard and Hudson the Washington pitching staff took a dramatic drop in performance. Ken Chase had a horrible season, yet somehow Griffith managed to include him in a trade that brought Stan Spence to Washington for the 1942 season. Chase pitched a little better in Boston, with a much lighter work load, but still was out of the league after the 1943 season.
SP Steve Sundra 9-13 5.29 ERA 1.57 WHIP -2.0 PW 5 WS 1.8 WARP3
Sundra was purchased from the Yankees during spring training of 1941 in hopes that he would sure up the starting rotation. Whatever Griffith paid for him, it was too much, and Sundra was traded to St. Louis early in the 1942 season. He had a decent year with the Browns in 1943, but didn’t play much after that.
RP Alex Carrasquel 6-2 3.44 ERA 1.57 WHIP 0.7 PW 8 WS 3.3 WARP3
Carrasquel had a career year in 1941. Though he pitched in fewer than 100 innings, he had the lowest ERA for a regular on the team. His ERA will continue to hover in the mid-3’s for the rest of the war years.
RP Bill Zuber 6-4 5.42 ERA 1.78 WHIP -1.5 PW 3 WS 0.6 WARP3
Zuber was purchased from Cleveland where in four seasons his high for innings pitched was 31.7. Zuber was a side-arming sinker baller who was not eligible for the draft due to his 4-F status.
RP Walt Masterson 4-3 5.97 ERA 1.97 WHIP -1.3 PW 1 WS 0.4 WARP3
Though Masterson was only 21 years old, he already had two seasons of major league experience coming into 1941. He performed about the same as he had in the previous two seasons, which is poorly, but is a year away from improving to the point that he is helpful to the team.
RP Red Anderson 4-6 4.18 ERA 1.61 WHIP -0.2 PW 5 WS 1.6 WARP3
Anderson had pitched four games for Washington between 1937 and 1940, but spent most of that time in the minors. 1941 was his only full year in the majors.
1941 World Series
The Yankees returned to the World Series after a year’s absence and won their sixth title in seven years. This time, the opponent was the Brooklyn Dodgers, who fell in five games in the first of many World Series between the two franchises.