1950 Washington Nationals
Manager: Bucky Harris 23rd Season (14th with Washington 1054-1084-20)
67 W 87 L 1 T 690 RS 813 RA 5th AL 31.0 GB (New York 98-56-1)
4.45 RPG (AL = 5.04) 4.66 ERA (AL = 4.58)
.692 DER (6th AL)
All Stars (1) Cass Michaels
Franchise (1901-1950) 3568-3972-97; 8-11 WS
With the team and city reeling from a last place finish in 1949, Clark Griffith turned to a familiar face in an attempt to right the ship. It was announced in November that Bucky Harris would come on board to serve as Washington’s manager for the third time. The announcement didn’t come as a surprise for Washington fans, who had grown accustomed to seeing former players running their favorite team. In fact, since Griffith himself retired from managing in 1919, every single manager had at one time played for the Nats.
Harris had last been seen in the majors with the New York Yankees, where he won a World Series in 1947. He spent the 1949 season managing San Diego of the PCL, where he was the highest paid minor league manager. Harris singed a three-year deal with Washington, worth about $30,000, that included bonuses if attendance at Griffith Stadium went up.
Harris got right to work, and was credited with lighting a fire under the 80-year-old owner in an effort to rebuild the roster. He brought in players from the PCL (Irv Noren), pitchers from Cuba (Connie Marrero, Sandy Consuegra), and convinced Griffith to pull the trigger on a blockbuster early-season trade that brought 2B Cass Michaels and SP Bob Kuzava from the White Sox in exchange for Eddie Robinson, Al Kozar, and the previously untouchable Ray Scarborough. After talking up young pitching prospect Dick Weik in the papers for the entire spring and early summer, Harris sent him to Cleveland to get veteran and Washington favorite Mickey Vernon back.
The combination of Harris’ drive to build a team and Griffith’s rare willingness to dip into his pocketbook (brought about by an eighth place embarrassment the year before) equaled improvement in Washington. Though they didn’t have a winning year in 1950, Washington could proudly say it was not in the cellar anymore.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1950
C Al Evans .235/.309/.304 2 HR -2.2 BFW 3 WS 5 FRAR 0.1 WARP3
This was Evans last season with Washington, the club he started with as a backup catcher in 1939. After playing 12 game with the Red Sox in 1951, Evans will retire with a career .250/.332/.326 line with 13 HR and a career 56 FRAR as a catcher and 11.0 WARP3.
1B Mickey Vernon .306/.404/.459 9 HR 1.4 BFW 13 WS 16 FRAR 5.0 WARP3
Less than two years after trading the veteran first baseman away, Clark Griffith sends pitcher Dick Weik to Cleveland in exchange for a struggling Vernon (.189/.284/.189 in 28 games with the Indians). Vernon’s early season struggles made him very expendable for Cleveland, who had rookie Luke Easter playing fairly well at first base through the first few months of the season. The deal allowed Harris to move rookie Irv Noren to the outfield where he was sorely needed. Vernon had a good season following the trade, and would remain the regular first baseman for Washington until the mid-1950’s.
2B Cass Michaels .250/.345/.322 4 HR -0.2 BFW 9 WS 26 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
Michaels was the best player that came from Chicago in the blockbuster mid-season trade with the White Sox. It was said that Bucky Harris, and old second baseman himself, thought that was the most important position on the diamond. He convinced Griffith to go through with the deal despite the fact that the “Old Fox” wasn’t overly enthused with the package that Chicago was offering. Michaels broke into the league with the White Sox at the age of 17 in 1943. He was a regular by 1945, and an All Star in 1949 with the Sox, and in 1950 with the Nats.
SS Sam Dente .239/.286/.299 2 HR -3.6 BFW 7 WS 28 FRAR 1.1 WARP3
Dente was briefly moved to second base in the early months of the 1950 season, but moved back to his familiar position when the club acquired Cass Michaels to play second.
3B Eddie Yost .295/.440/.405 11 HR 2.7 BFW 24 WS 12 FRAR 7.0 WARP3
Yost had been a solid player for Washington over the past several seasons, but he emerged as one of the better lead off men in the league in 1950. He set a franchise records for walks in a season with 141, easily out pacing Buddy Myer’s 102 from 1934. He was second in AL on-base percentage behind only Lary Doby who reached at a .442 pace.
LF Gil Coan .303/.359/.429 7 HR -0.4 BFW 11 WS 12 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
Early in the season, Gil Coan was batting just .235 when he collided with Owen Friend of the Browns in a play at second base. Coan sat out about a month and a half with a fractured skull, but it seemed to do the trick. When he returned he slowly brought his average up with an incredible month-long streak in which he batted over .400 and mixed in a 14-game hitting streak. Coan attributed his hot streak to the coaching of Clyde Milan, who suggested he crouch more at the plate.
CF Irv Noren .295/.375/.459 14 HR 1.8 BFW 22 WS 21 FRAR 6.5 WARP3
Noren was purchased from the Dodger organization where he never got a sniff of the big leagues due to the talent of the Dodgers in the late 1940’s. The left-handed hitter immediately became an everyday player in Washington with a rookie effort that actually got him some attention in the MVP voting.
RF Sam Mele .274/.351/.432 12 HR -0.2 BFW 11 WS 8 FRAR 3.2 WARP3
Mele was primariy an outfielder, but he also filled in for Vernon at first base when Mickey was injured. Mele came from Boston in the 1949 trade that sent Walt Masterson to the Red Sox. He had some very good numbers in his rookie season of 1947, but tailed of a bit after that, making him expendable to the Red Sox. His 1950 numbers would become the standard for Mele, who became a journeyman player with several stops in the 1950’s.
OF Bud Stewart .267/.348/.370 4 HR -0.9 BFW 9 WS 9 FRAR 2.1 WARP3
At the age of 34 Stewart served as a fill in during several injury stints for Washington outfielders. He will be traded to the White Sox in the off season.
SP Sid Hudson 14-14 4.09 ERA 1.51 WHIP 0.9 PW 15 WS 5.9 WARP3
Sid Hudson was one of the few returning veterans on a pitching staff that was overhauled by Bucky Harris and Clark Griffith. Early in the season, Bucky Harris convinced Hudson to try throwing underhanded. It was the second major shift in delivery for Hudson, who converted to a side-armed throw after he hurt his shoulder in the war. Though the numbers don’t appear overly impressive on their face, this is probably Hudson’s best performance since the 1941 season.
SP Bob Kuzava 8-7 3.95 ERA 1.49 WHIP 0.5 PW 10 WS 3.7 WARP3
Kuzava earned the nickname “Sarge” because of the rank he achieved while serving in World War II. Upon his return, he toiled in the Cleveland system for a few years before finally getting his shot with the White Sox in 1949. Kuzava made the most of his chance, putting together a very nice season and finishing fourth in rookie of the year voting. He came to Washington in the big mid-season trade and impressed as a starter down the stretch. Kuzava was traded to the Yankees in the early portion of the 1951 season.
SP Connie Marrero 6-10 4.50 ERA 1.41 WHIP -0.1 PW 8 WS 3.3 WARP3
During Bucky Harris’ time as manager of the Yankees, the team took a trip to Cuba in 1947 to play some exhibitions against Cuban All Stars. It was there that a veteran pitcher named Conrado Marrero shut down the World Champions 2-1. Harris didn’t forget that game and brought in Marrero as a 38-year-old rookie in 1950. Marrero stayed with the Nats until he was 42-years-old and had a few very good seasons.
SP Sandy Consuegra 7-8 4.40 ERA 1.52 WHIP 0.0 PW 8 WS 2.8 WARP3
Consuegra was another product of Cuba who made a splash in his first taste of the major leagues. On June 10, Consuegra made his debut by shutting out the White Sox 6-0 in a shortened game. The 29-year-old was known for his curveball, and was converted to a relief pitcher in 1951.
SP/RP Joe Haynes 7-5 5.84 ERA 1.67 WHIP -1.2 PW 3 WS 0.9 WARP3
Haynes showed versatility in 1950 by pitching both as a starter and in relief, but wasn’t particularly effective even though he managed to win seven games for his adopted father-in-law’s team.
RP Mickey Harris 5-9 4.78 ERA 1.42 WHIP -0.2 PW 9 WS 3.5 WARP3
Harris led the AL in pitching appearances with 53 and, though saves weren’t counted yet, he led the league with 15 of those.
RP Jim Pearce 2-1 6.04 ERA 1.68 WHIP -0.5 PW 1 WS 0.4 WARP3
This is the only major league season in which Pearce appeared in more than four games.
1950 World Series
The New York Yankees won their 13th World Championship with a four-game sweep over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yanks did it with pitching, allowing the Phillies just five runs over the course of the Series.