2012 should be a big year for the Nationals. Many believe that it will be their first winning season in Washington. And if it is, that would be quite a coincidence, as it would be exactly 100 years after Washington baseball’s FIRST first winning season. The Senators finished 91-61 that year, for their first winning season ever, in their 12th season of existence. Coming in 2nd in the AL, it was also the first time they finished higher than 6th place out of 8.
It wasn’t just the first winning season in “modern” baseball in Washington, which most people put at the turn of the last century. The Washington Statemen/Senators, who played from 1891-1899, never had a winning season. Neither did the original Washington Nationals, who existed from 1886-1889. (For a little background on those teams, click here). The two Washington teams that played in 1884 were under .500 as well. So 1912 really was the first winning season in Washington major league baseball.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the first winning season, and in hopes of the first one for this franchise in this city, it makes sense for the Nats to honor them the best way a baseball team can – by wearing throwbacks. The first picture, on the right hand side of the screen, are the 1912 uniforms, pretty good, although I’ve never been a fan of the “nothing on the front” jerseys.
I guess that makes the most sense, although if they could just pick any old uniform from that era, I’d go with 1910. I can’t think of an actual reason to use 1910, and they should probably go with the worse looking unis for the whole “winning season” thing. But if someone comes up with a reason for those 1910 unis, please do let us know. They are pictured below.
As for that winning 1912 team, here are a few highlights:
- Walter Johnson, 24 years old and in his 6th season, had an incredible year. He finished 33-12 with a 1.39 ERA and 303 Ks/74 BBs. He had 7 shutouts, and 2 saves. He lead the league in ERA, Ks, Hits per 9, and WHIP. He finished 3rd in MVP voting behind fellow HoFers Tris Speaker and Ed Walsh. He also lead the majors in WAR, a feat that he repeated in 1913.
- Centerfielder Clyde Milan finished right behind the Big Train in the MVP voting at #4. He hit .306/.377/.379 and lead the league with 88 stolen bases, 25 ahead of the AL’s #2 man, Eddie Collins, and 27 ahead of #3 Ty Cobb.
- 1B Chick Gandill hit .305/.350/431 for a OPS+ of 122, best among those with significant playing time on this light hitting team
- With little hitting, obviously pitching was big for them, and middling starter Bob Groom had by far the best season of his career. He finished 24-13 with a 2.62 ERA, 179 K/ 95 BB, and a 129 ERA+. Tom Hughes turned in a solid if unspectacular season as their #3, going 13-10, with a 2.94 ERA for a 115 ERA+.
- They also had 12 appearances from Hippo Vaughn, who ended up having quite a few great seasons with the Cubs, and might be most famous for losing a 10 inning game in which both he an Reds pitcher Fred Toney had no hitters after 9 full innings. Vaughn gave up 2 hits and a run in the top of the 10th, while Toney finished up his no no