I wanted to post our transgressions on the forgotten great Bill Dahlen for the 19th century aficionados here to get their reactions.
I'll start out with something I composed over in the Hall of Fame section here at BBF.
So what do you guys think? Is Dahlen the most unheralded and forgotten great in baseball history?Originally Posted by csh19792001This gave me the idea to start this thread. I wanted to see what everyone thought about his candidacy. If possible, I'll add a poll as well after we've had a chance to discuss things a bit.
For those who prefer historical/biographical accounts and narrative:
For those who prefer statistical analysis:
394 career Win Shares put him just ahead of Tim Raines and just behind Tony Gwynn in terms of career value.
Even when evaluated using WARP3 (which makes an enormous 30% dent in his raw numbers), Dahlen still comes out with much more career value than even the much ballyhooed Ron Santo, who was somewhat like Bad Bill in his fielding brilliance, but came replete with a TON of support for his induction due to the fact that he was a beloved contemporary ballplayer.
According to all accounts (as well as all of the best fielding statistics available) Dahlen was one of the greatest fielders in baseball history. There isn't much debate on that from anyone.
This is a nice analysis below (I've extricated the portions on Dahlen, the article considers the case of "Indian" Bob Johnson, as well):
"With their statistics easily accessible to anyone that is willing to look at Total Baseball or The Baseball Encyclopedia, both Dahlen and ("Indian Bob") Johnson have faired well with the better known statistical analysts, Bill James, Pete Palmer, Charles Faber, and Frank Peterson.
Bill James and Jim Henzler, in their Win Shares, rank Dahlen the sixth best shortstop of all time and tie him with Wade Boggs as the 40th greatest player to ever play major league baseball as of 2002; Palmer, in the seventh edition of Total Baseball, rates him the second best shortstop, the top defensive shortstop, and the 31st greatest player of all time as of 2001; Faber, in his Baseball Pioneers: Ratings of Nineteenth Century Players, has him as the fourth best of the pre-1901 shortstops and, when combined with Faber's ratings of post-1900 players, the 99th greatest player up to 1995; and Peterson, in his REAL Major League Baseball: Rankings of Efficiency and Longevity, By Position, 1893-1995, places him as the eighth best shortstop and the 138th greatest player between 1893 and 1995.
And if those statistics don't sound impressive enough, keep in mind that currently there are 195 major league players in the Hall of Fame. So, if Dahlen's all-time rankings are averaged, he would be considered the 79th best player ever to put on a major league uniform and certainly worthy of inclusion in baseball's pantheon.
Furthermore, both men were highly respected for their playing abilities at the time that they performed. Dahlen was a key player on four pennant-winning clubs, and John McGraw, a shrewd judge of baseball talent and arguably the finest manager in the history of major league baseball, traded two players to get him, despite the fact that "Bad Bill" was almost 34 years old when the trade took place.
However, neither man has faired well with the Hall of Fame voters. Dahlen received one vote in 1936 and another in 1938; Johnson received one vote in 1948 and one in 1956. In addition, both men may have received some votes from the former versions of the current Veterans Committee, but since those votes were never publicized, no one will ever know.
Thus, this raises the question of why haven't these two stars at least received more consideration from the Hall of Fame selectors if not been voted into the shrine itself.
There is no conclusive evidence to answer this question, but in Dahlen's case, it's known that he didn't get along well with sportswriters and other ballplayers. And who were and still are the voters for Hall of Fame membership? Sportswriters and, for the Veterans Committee, former ballplayers. Of course, by now, all of the Sportswriters and ballplayers that knew Dahlen are dead, but then, also by now, few if any sportswriters and ballplayers have ever heard of Bill Dahlen or have made an effort to learn about him."
And, as I see it, a complete lack of fame and popularity are the only reasons Dahlen wasn't inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame long ago.
And here's a link to the book for those interested in the historical narrative: