How baseball's changed since DC's last Series

October 16th, 2019

The Washington Nationals are headed to the World Series. It’s the first World Series appearance in franchise history, leaving the Mariners as the lone remaining franchise to never reach the Fall Classic. But when thinking of just what the World Series appearance means for the Nationals, it requires a look at a few other franchises as well -- and the history of baseball in Washington, D.C.

This will be the first time that a Washington-based team will play in the World Series since 1933, when the Washington Senators, who became the Twins in 1961, lost to the Giants in five games. The last time a D.C. team won a World Series game at home was Oct. 5, 1933, the third game of that series. The last time a D.C. team won the World Series? That would be in 1924, also against the Giants.

The baseball world has changed a great deal since that 1933 World Series, and the Nationals’ first home game in the upcoming Fall Classic will be the first World Series game in our nation’s capital since Game 5 of the 1933 World Series, when the Senators were eliminated on Oct. 7 before 28,454 fans at Griffith Stadium.

The last time a D.C. team was in the World Series, there were eight clubs in each league -- and the D.C.-based Senators represented the American League.

Here’s a look at what Major League Baseball was defined by the last time Washington, D.C., hosted a World Series game in 1933.

MVP and other awards

The Most Valuable Player Award is given out in each league in November, something we've become pretty accustomed to. But in 1933, it was a relatively new phenomenon, at least in its current form. There were prior MVP honors, but the modern MVP Award -- the one voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- was first awarded in '31. Through the '33 season, there had been six MVPs: Frankie Frisch and Lefty Grove in '31, Chuck Klein and Jimmie Foxx in '32, and Carl Hubbell and Foxx in '33. There was no Cy Young Award, nor was there a Rookie of the Year Award. The Cy Young was first awarded in '56, initially as a league-wide honor as opposed to individual AL and NL awards, a change that occurred in '67. The first Rookie of the Year Award winner was the Dodgers' Jackie Robinson in '47. Winners were named in each league beginning two years later.

There was no World Series MVP yet, either, in 1933. That wouldn't be given until '55, when Johnny Podres received the first such honor. The first All-Star Game MVP wasn't awarded until '62. However, the All-Star Game had begun in 1933 -- on July 6 at Comiskey Park. Lefty Gomez started opposite Bill Hallahan in the inaugural Midsummer Classic.

Home runs

The all-time home run leader through the 1933 season was Babe Ruth, with 686. No other player had even hit 300 -- Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby were tied for second with 299 each. Ruth finished his career with a then-record 714 homers, and is now third all-time. Gehrig finished with 493, which is currently tied for 28th, and Hornsby finished with 301, which is 147th all-time.

The single-season home run record was 60, set by Ruth in 1927. That’s now the eighth-highest single-season total all-time. Barry Bonds leads, having hit 73 in 2001.

Hitter strikeouts

We all know that strikeouts have risen in recent years. The league-wide strikeout record has been set each season since 2008. So it stands to reason that the state of strikeouts by hitters was quite different back in 1933.

And indeed it was. Through that season, the single-season strikeout record for a hitter was 128, by Jake Stahl in 1910. Since then, there have been 1,510 individual seasons by players with more strikeouts than that. The record is now 223, set by Mark Reynolds in 2009.

Pitcher strikeouts

The most career strikeouts for any pitcher as of 1933 belonged to Walter Johnson, who had 3,509. Johnson’s mark is now ninth, with Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 leading the way.

At that time, the most strikeouts in a single season in the Modern Era (since 1900) was 349 by Rube Waddell in 1904. As of '33, there had been four individual 300-strikeout seasons in the Modern Era -- two each by Johnson and Waddell.

The single-season record is now 383, by Nolan Ryan in 1973. There have now been 38 300-strikeout seasons by pitchers in the Modern Era, most recently Gerrit Cole’s 326 and Justin Verlander’s 300 this season.

World Series appearances, titles and more

The 1933 World Series was the 10th World Series appearance for the Giants, which was at the time two more than any other team. The Yankees had appeared in seven World Series, which was tied for third most.

As of 1933, the most World Series championships of any team was five, by both the Red Sox and A’s franchises.

Now, the Yankees have appeared in 40 World Series -- 20 more than any other team. The Giants are tied for second with the Dodgers, at 20 appearances. And, of course, the Yankees lead the way with 27 World Series titles. In 1933, they’d won just four.

How about the Red Sox and A’s, who were tied for the lead back in 1933? They’re still tied, but now for third, with nine each -- just four more than they had in '33.

Since that 1933 World Series, 29 franchises have made it to the World Series -- including the Nationals’ 2019 pennant. The Yankees have played 187 World Series games in that span. Twenty-three teams have won the World Series in that time.

There have been 3,874 runs scored in the Fall Classic in that span, a total that the Nationals and the ALCS winner will add to soon.