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  • Bad Bill Dahlen

    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.

    Originally posted by csh19792001
    This 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:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/078...books&v=glance

    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.
    So what do you guys think? Is Dahlen the most unheralded and forgotten great in baseball history?

    And here's a link to the book for those interested in the historical narrative:

    http://www.rufusbooks.com/exec/asin/...84/ref=froogle

  • #2
    Dahlen is definately underrated. I'd place him as a border line HOFer, barely in. Of course, if I got the key to the place, I'd turn away about 1/3 of the guys already in there! I hadn't noticed his defense before, but he does rate VERY well against his peers....thus moving himself to 8 or 9 on my SS list, well ahead of the 50's guys(Reese, Aparicio and Rizzuto) and behind Wagner, ARod, Vaughan, Ripken, Pop Lloyd, and a couple more I'm probably missing off the top of my head.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by csh19792001
      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?

      And here's a link to the book for those interested in the historical narrative:

      http://www.rufusbooks.com/exec/asin/...84/ref=froogle
      Dahlen isn't in the HofF because the veterans have been busy inducting players from the twenties and thirties. Who remembers Dahlen anymore? The one negative I have with him is that he received a nice healthy $4000 contract from John Dovey, the Dove (Brave) President at the time, for the 1909 season. Presumably Dahlen wanted to leave Boston. He had one of his worst years, and Boston had its worst season up to that time.

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't think I'd put Dahlen at the very top of the list of excluded players--more like fourth, behind Santo, Blyleven and Dick Allen. That said, he'd be a fine addition to the Hall.

        Jim Albright
        Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
        Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
        A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

        Comment


        • #5
          Bill Dahlen and Tommy Corcoran

          I've spent the last 1-1/2 yr studying defense at all positions. I'm seeing a shift of preferences from the great hitting SS of the late 1880s early 1890s to a preference to great fielding SS in late 1890s and 1900s. Statistically, a better fielding SS is more valuable to his team than a better hitting SS. Bill Dahlen and Tommy Corcoran lead the list.
          In the 1920's, Harry Heilmann led the AL with a .364 average. In addition, he averaged 220 hits, 45 doubles, 12 triples, 16 homers, 110 runs, and 130 RBI.

          Comment


          • #6
            Dahlen for the HOF

            I rank Dahlen as the greatest position player not in the Hall of Fame, just ahead of Mark McGwire (who won't be inducted anytime soon because, ahem, he doesn't want to talk about the past). I also have him as the 13th best SS of all time, behind Honus Wagner, Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken, Ernie Banks, Joe Cronin, George Davis, Luke Appling, Robin Yount, Arky Vaughan, Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith, and Barry Larkin, though I am being convinced by some of the people here to move him further up, probably to tenth.

            He's certainly ahead of his contemporaries now in the HOF, including Joe Tinker, Hughie Jennings, and Bobby Wallace.

            So my real question to those who know more about such matters is why did he not make the HOF in the first place? When the voters were voting for Jennings and Wallace, why did they pass Dahlen over?

            Comment


            • #7
              I certainly go along with Dahlen being in the HoF, but I'd rather see the VC elections abolished. They just make too many major mistakes. In the last one they passed over Dahlen without much argument and came within one vote of electing Allie Reynolds.
              Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KCGHOST View Post
                I certainly go along with Dahlen being in the HoF, but I'd rather see the VC elections abolished. They just make too many major mistakes. In the last one they passed over Dahlen without much argument and came within one vote of electing Allie Reynolds.
                Joe Gordon has somehow slipped into the Baseball Hall of Fame yet Bill Dahlen has no prayer of ever getting consideration. How tragically unfair! One guy (Dahlen) is one of top few most skilled/valuable defensive players in baseball history, and the other was merely a "very good" player with a very short career, by HOF standards. Gordon had the incredible fortune to be signed by a dynasty.....a member of the most hyped, over-covered, and storied franchise in sports history.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Fakery

                  Gordon is also in what is among the most overhyped generation of players.

                  It seems anyone who had a 100 RBI season during the 1940s and was breathed upon by Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio or David Halberstam or Ken Burns or Tom Brokaw is in the HOF.

                  Bill Dahlen is better than 90 players in the HOF.

                  The HOF sucks. Why anyone with a brain pays attention to it is unknown.

                  I nominate Chet Laabs.
                  Last edited by Hargrave; 07-30-2009, 09:11 PM.
                  "On the sandlot, we used to play all day. We used to get 10 at-bats before lunch."
                  Former Seattle Ranier Edo Vanni

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Dahlen was traded in 1899 for Gene DeMontreville. How many Hall of Famers are traded at age 28, even up for a player who is hardly a star of any great magnitude himself? Maybe a few, but I can't imagine there have been many.

                    Joe Gordon was traded by the Yankees -- at age 31, and for Allie Reynolds, who may not be a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate but is a lot closer to it than Gene DeMontreville. Certainly, the Dahlen trade was a bad mistake on the Chicago management's part but they didn't do it without a reason. When a player has a reputation for deliberately getting run out of games in order to get a head start at the race track, he will earn some disfavor.

                    Whether that justifies excluding a player of Dahlen's unquestionable quality, I don't know. I am baffled, though, at why he has become the fair-haired child of the 19th century in preference to Deacon White, who was a greater player, a more interesting and admirable personality and to some degree a central figure in baseball history in a way that Dahlen was not.
                    “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Beady View Post
                      Dahlen was traded in 1899 for Gene DeMontreville. How many Hall of Famers are traded at age 28, even up for a player who is hardly a star of any great magnitude himself? Maybe a few, but I can't imagine there have been many.
                      In 1898, DeMontreville was 8th in the league in batting and 3rd in stolen bases. He actually hit .343, .341, and .328 in 1896-98, drove in 93, 83, and 76 runs, and stole 30, 49, and 47 bases. Although when he played at short he led the league in errors twice, he did lead it in assists as well in 1896, by 1898 he had made the move to second, where he was actually quite good.

                      Dahlen had been injured for part of the season in 1897, and in both 97 and 98 he had failed to hit .300. He stole only 15 and 27 bases those years and was three years older than DeMontreville. It seems to me to be a perfectly logical trade (at the time) and I would imagine it looked like Dahlen had seen his best days and Gene was on his way up.
                      "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There had already been complaints about DeMontreville drinking when he was with Washington, and the Dahlen trade was DeMont's second in two years, which might be a tipoff in itself. I have seen a sampling of comments at the time the deal was made by various correspondents in The Sporting News and a few daily papers. Not a few -- in fact, perhaps a majority-- thought Chicago got the better of the deal. However, their arguments were made on the grounds, first, that DeMont was an excellent young player and, second, that Dahlen was indifferent and a thorn in the side of the Chicago management. I haven't read anybody saying Dahlen wasn't as good as he ever had been, provided he played up to his ability. That was the catch.

                        In Lyle Spatz' biography of Dahlen, Chicago manager Tommy Burns is quoted as follows:

                        “I don’t want to be quoted as saying that I believe DeMontreville is a better player than Dahlen, but I believe that he will be and that he is now a better player for Chicago than Dahlen. The exchange was made in the interests of discipline and will strengthen the team in other ways as well.”

                        Trying to translate those words from public relations into plain English, I think they pretty clearly say, "I'm only going to look foolish if I pretend we got 100% value in pure baseball terms, but Dahlen's attitude had just gotten too much to put up with. So we made the best deal we could given our weak bargaining position, and we acquired a young player we hope may turn out a good one."

                        That Dahlen was a great player I don't doubt, and trading him for DeMontreville was a big loss for Chicago. But the fact is, Dahlen was traded at age 28 for a pretty good young player with baggage of his own, and at the time much of the baseball world thought the move made perfect sense.
                        “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here's how ridiculously misinformed and completely biased the BB HOF voters are:

                          Bill Dahlen's Career Value

                          Looking back through the entire history of baseball...Dahlen has more career value than any SS eligible (who hasn't already been inducted).

                          He's arguably the most valuable fielder in baseball history

                          And how many HOF ballots has he received in the past 75 years?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Unfortunately, if we're going to take this as evidence that the HOF selectors are ridiculously misinformed and biased, then we'll be compelled to conclude that all or most of the population of earth have been complete morons up until a couple of years ago, because it wasn't just the selectors -- nobody ever made very much of Dahlen.

                            When I was young, people talked about Jennings and Long, then some time back George Davis became the flavor of the month, and I can't remember anybody talking up Dahlen until after Davis was in the Hall.

                            I will admit I am biased myself, because the last time Dahlen was a candidate his nineteenth century competitor was Deacon White, and with no disrespect to Dahlen I can say that White was easily a greater player and a more worthy candidate for the HOF, yet Dahlen got all the attention. I generally don't care much who gets in the Hall, but I'll make an exception for White, who should have been in sixty years ago, and I got sick of hearing about Dahlen.

                            There's nothing ridiculous about being uninformed if you don't have access to the facts. For much of the history of the Hall of Fame, the electors did not have nearly the full battery of statistics for Dahlen that we have, and in fact the statistics they did have were not accurate to be relied on with great
                            confidence.

                            On the other hand, if people thought of Johnny Bench as a third baseman, and assessed him as a Hall of Fame candidate on that basis, that certainly would be ludicrously, absurdly misinformed. You don't need accurate or detailed statistics to know Deacon White was the best catcher of the 1870's, when the catcher was arguably the most important player on the field. Anybody who thinks of White as a third baseman should not have the right to vote on his HOF candidacy. Let them vote on Dahlen, i don't care about him. Fine player, though.
                            “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Beady View Post
                              Let them vote on Dahlen, i don't care about him. Fine player, though.
                              Davis, who was only slightly more valuable career wise (but also egregiously neglected) only got in because history freaks such as myself petitioned to get him. Cohoes is very, very close to where I live.

                              I agree my reasoning is illogical and also unfair, but it isn't misguided in sentiment. I understand that the imposition (or projection of) Jamesian or any 21st century paradigms onto HOF voters or players!! of yore is illogical. It's analogous to the droves of people on this site who constantly whine about how "overrated" players like George Sisler were/are and how tremendously flawed players were who didn't focus more on slugging and drawing walks (do they even know that all people cared about- or tracked- were runs, hits, and batting average? Do they know about very lucrative contract clauses based on hits and batting average in those days?).

                              We should all be petitioning for Tony Mullane and Bill Dahlen to be elected. These were clearly among the top few most valuable and coveted players of their era. The era in which they played completely negates the possibility of them getting in, without some monumental grass roots effort i.e., George Stacy Davis).
                              Last edited by csh19792001; 01-16-2011, 08:24 PM.

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