1960 Washington Senators
Manager: Cookie Lavaegetto 4th Season (4th with Washington 248-350-2)
73 W 81 L 672 RS 696 RA 5th AL 24 GB (New York 97-57-1)
4.36 RPG (AL = 4.39) 3.77 ERA (AL = 3.87)
.700 DER (7th AL)
All Stars (2*) Jim Lemon, Camilo Pascual
*both players were selected to both All Star Games
Franchise (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Washington’s team results finally started to catch up with the talent on the field in 1960. After a slow start that was a result of injury and various slumps, the Nats vaulted their way into the first division and actually sat four games above the .500 mark as late as September 9. Though they ended the season with a 3-15 slump that made their final record 73-81, it seemed as though Washington fans finally had something to look forward to for 1961. The team also showed improvement at the gate, showing their best season attendance in more than a decade.
When reports began to surface in mid-October that Griffith had reached an agreement to move his team to the Twin Cities while Washington would receive one of the expansion teams, they were quickly denied by Griffith. “That’s a lot of baloney and it sounds like somebody’s pipe dream. It is new to me that the American League will discuss transferring the Washington club elsewhere” Griffith told Shirley Povich in a report that was published in The Sporting News on October 26. On that same day, AL owners voted to make the move official, finally ending more than seven years of speculation, threats, and rumors.
Washington fans took in the announcement with mixed emotions. Perhaps tired of the constant posturing that took place over the previous decade, and possibly placated by the hope of an expansion team, there was relatively little fight left in the fan base. A petition did circulate asking Griffith to reconsider, but the decision had been made and all legal avenues had been exhausted. The first version of the Washington American League baseball club was moving west to become the Minnesota Twins.
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1960
C Earl Battey .270/.346/.427 15 HR 2.3 BFW 16 WS 31 FRAR 5.9 WARP3
Calvin Griffith’s original request from Chicago in the Roy Sievers trade was Battey and SS Sammy Esposito. White Sox manager Al Lopez refused to okay the offer, saying that he wouldn’t part with Esposito. Griffith’s counter proposal still included Battey, this time with Don Mincher, a first-baseman with power potential but no major league experience. Esposito remained with the White Sox until 1964. As a utility infielder those seasons, he had OPS+ of 52, 39, 70, and 43. Though Griffith was almost universally panned for the deal at the time, Mincher and Battey both became cornerstones of the Washington/Minnesota franchise. This was Battey’s first season as a regular in the majors. Not only was Battey impressive at the plate, but he gave the Nats a force behind the plate shutting down the opponent’s running game. On one occasion, Battey threw out three White Sox who were trying to steal in a single game. By mid-season, it was clear that the team had found the man who would be their starting catcher for years to come. He finished 8th in voting for AL MVP.
1B/3B Harmon Killebrew .276/.375/.534 31 HR 1.6 BFW 20 WS -3 FRAR 4.6 WARP3
At the age of 24, Killebrew was coming off of his best season. He followed that up with an even better season in most regards, though he played in about 30 fewer games due to injury. Those injuries, most prominently a pulled hamstring in May, contributed to tough first half in which Killer batted .233/.347/.380 with just four home runs. From July 7 on, however, Nats fans saw the Killebrew they were expecting, when he batted .301/.394/.624 with 27 HR from that day on.
1B Julio Becquer .252/.282/.389 4 HR -1.8 BFW 3 WS -1 FRAR -0.2 WARP3
When Killebrew was out, Becquer was the regular first baseman. Becquer’s performance wasn’t really of note, though he did participate in the major’s only all-Cuban triple play with countrymen Ramos and Valdivielso. Becquer was selected by Los Angeles in the expansion draft, but found his way back to the franchise later in the 1961 season.
2B Billy Gardner .257/.313/.363 9 HR -0.7 BFW 13 WS 33 FRAR 4.3 WARP3
With the arrival of Earl Battey, catcher Clint Courtney became expendable. He was traded to Baltimore shortly before the season started along with utility infielder Ron Samford for Gardner, who had been Baltimore’s regular second baseman since 1956. Gardner was never a great hitter, his best season was .262/.325/.356 in 1957, but he had the label “slick-fielding veteran” attached to his name so he was coveted by Griffith. Gardner endeared himself quickly to Washington fans, hitting safely in 19 of the first 20 games of the season. His steady play at second also made him a favorite of manager Cookie Lavagetto, who called the trade for Gardner the best deal the team had ever made. Gardner cooled significantly after a hot start, coming back down to his career numbers at the plate. Though Gardner was the opening day starter in Minnesota a year later, he didn’t last long and was dealt to the Yankees in June, prompting Dan Daniel, a TSN writer, to ask Yankee GM Roy Hamey “What do you want with Gardner?” Gardner spent the rest of the season on the Yankee bench, his days as a regular over. He did catch Griffith’s eye during his short stay in Washington, and would return to the club as a manager in 1981.
SS Jose Valdivielso .213/.276/.246 2 HR -1.0 BFW 4 WS 21 FRAR 1.0 WARP3
When Valdivielso wasn’t playing short stop, Billy Consolo got the nod, though neither man represented any kind of threat at the plate. A young Zoilo Versalles played in 15 games, and will take over the position starting next season.
3B Reno Bertoia .265/.313/.359 7 HR -1.9 BFW 9 WS 13 FRAR 1.9 WARP3
Bertoia was a bonus baby with Detroit before he landed in Washington as part of the Eddie Yost trade. 1960 was the only season in which the Italian-born player was an everyday player. He had a solid season, but not good enough to keep the job in 1961. Bertoia was the opening day third baseman for Minnesota in 1961, but was traded to Kansas City on June 1 for his replacement, Bill Tuttle.
LF Jim Lemon .269/.354/.508 38 HR 1.2 BFW 21 WS -2 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
32-year-old Jim Lemon had his best season as a major leaguer in 1960, and was instrumental in keeping the team afloat early in the season when most others were slumping. This also seems to be the season in which Lemon finally won over the owner of the team, Calvin Griffith, who put him on the “untouchables” list along with Killebrew and Battey after the season.
CF Lenny Green .294/.383/.430 5 HR 1.1 BFW 13 WS 9 FRAR 3.8 WARP3
Green probably had his best season in the majors, but didn’t grab too many headlines thanks to his role on a team that included Killebrew, Lemon, Allison, Battey, and Pascual. Still, and argument can easily be made that Green was the most valuable center fielder in the league not named Mantle.
RF Bob Allison .251/.367/.413 15 HR 1.2 BFW 16 WS 13 FRAR 4.8 WARP3
Allison’s numbers fell a bit from his excellent rookie season of 1959 and he found himself the subject of many trade rumors after the 1960 season, partially fueled by the owner’s refusal to list him among the “untouchables” on the trade market. He stayed put, however, and moved west with the team for 1961.
SP Pedro Ramos 11-18 3.45 ERA 1.29 WHIP 1.1 PW 16 WS 7.0 WARP3
Ramos led the American League in losses once again, making him one of the most hard-luck pitchers in franchise history. The Nats scored two runs or less in 15 of Ramos’ 36 starts in 1960. On July 19, Ramos carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Though Rocky Colavito’s lead off single stopped the no-hit bid, Ramos ended the day with a one-hitter in the 5-0 Nats victory.
SP Camilo Pascual 12-8 3.03 ERA 1.27 WHIP 1.9 PW 13 WS 5.7 WARP3
Fresh off of a Caribbean World Series win in the off season, Pascual started 1960 very well for the Nats. On opening day he struck out 15 batters en route to a 10-1 win over the Red Sox. While he showed his brilliance on many occasions in 1960, the dominant theme of the season was the shoulder trouble that Pascual had throughout, something that eventually shut him down with more than a month left in the season. The arm trouble can be traced back to a brawl that occurred on May 27 that was touched off when Pete Runnels thought that Pascual was throwing a bit too close to his head. The “lame arm” also touched off a very public dispute between Pascual and Griffith. The owner wanted Pascual to sit out the Cuban season to rest his arm, but Pascual would have none of it. After a few weeks of exchanges in the papers, Pascual sent Griffith a letter stating that he couldn’t play in the Cuban league if he wanted to due to his shoulder injury, so the matter was settled for the short term. Pascual also had a season highlight on the other side of the ball. On August 14 he provided his own offense in a 5-4 win over the Yankees with a sixth inning grand slam off of Bob Turley.
SP Jack Kralick 8-6 3.04 ERA 1.22 WHIP 1.4 PW 12 WS 5.3 WARP3
After making sporadic appearances out of the bullpen for most of the first half of the season, the young lefty was installed in the starting rotation late in June. Kralick shut out the Red Sox in just his second career start, a feat that was particularly impressive because it happened at Fenway Park. Kralick was a solid pitcher for the Nats throughout the rest of the season. Kralick’s contribution was surprising to almost everybody because he wasn’t a highly regarded pitching prospect coming into the season. At best, the lanky and frail 6’4″ lefty was tabbed as a short relief man, but he proved that he was able to handle a role as a regular starter in the majors despite a minor league record that seemed to indicate that he wasn’t.
SP Jim Kaat 1-5 5.58 ERA 1.58 WHIP -1.1 PW 0 WS -0.2 WARP3
While Kralick wasn’t a highly regarded left-handed pitching prospect, there was one in camp. Jim Kaat made his major league debut in late in 1959 and got some unexpected playing time early in the 1960 season due to injuries that plagued the Washington staff. Though he wasn’t overly impressive during his time in the majors, it was clear that the organization had big expectations for the 21-year-old.
RP/SP Don Lee 8-7 3.95 ERA 1.36 WHIP 0.8 PW 11 WS 4.9 WARP3
Lee’s only major league experience before 1960 came in 12 appearances with the Tigers over a two year span from 1957 to 1958. Lee was acquired by Washington in the 1959 rule 5 draft, and immediately became an important part of the Washington pitching staff. On September 2 Lee gave up a home run to Ted Williams, a significant moment because Williams had also homered off of Lee’s father Thornton 20 years earlier.
RP/SP Chuck Stobbs 12-7 3.32 ERA 1.28 WHIP 0.8 PW 9 WS 3.9 WARP3
On September 28 Stobbs allowed a pair of home runs to Mickey Mantle, the 39th and 40th of the season for Mantle who won the home run title over teammate Roger Maris. 1960 was Stobbs’ last good season in the majors. After a sub par season out of the Minnesota bullpen in 1961 he called it quits. In nine seasons with Washington/Minnesota, Stobbs’ record was 66-92 with a 4.27 ERA (92 ERA+).
RP/SP Hal Woodeshick 4-5 4.70 ERA 1.66 WHIP -0.8 PW 4 WS 1.5 WARP3
Woodeshick stayed in Washington after the 1960 season when he was selected by the new Senators in the expansion draft. The best seasons of his career came with Houston from 1962 to 1965 when he was considered among the best relief pitchers in the National League.
RP Tex Clevenger 5-11 4.20 ERA 1.55 WHIP -1.0 PW 5 WS 1.9 WARP3
Cleveger was taken by the Angels in the expansion draft though he was quickly traded and finished his career as a member of the New York Yankees.
RP Ray Moore 3-2 2.88 ERA 1.16 WHIP 0.7 PW 9 WS 2.6 WARP3
After a poor start to the 1960 season with the White Sox, Ray Moore was purchased by Washington in June and became the team’s closer with some impressive numbers. The 34-year-old was used sparingly at first, but certainly emerged as the most reliable option out of the bullpen by early July.
1960 World Series
The Pittsburgh Pirates upset the New York Yankees in seven games, the final blow being Bill Mazeroski’s game winning home run in the final game.