Should Bill Dahlen Be in the Hall of Fame?

Bill Dahlen finished his career with a WAR of 75.2, better than guys like Johnny Bench, Frank Thomas, Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome, Ron Santo, and lots of other players currently in the baseball Hall of Fame. He is currently not in the Hall of Fame. I guess at this point the question some people have is Who is Bill Dahlen?

He was Shortstop and third baseman for the Chicago National League team, Brooklyn, the New York Giants, and the Boston National League team He was in the league for 21 years, and while I completely understand that advanced metrics have been a thing for only the past 15-20 years or so even with traditional stats I’m still surprised that a guy who complied just under 2500 hits, played on some elite teams and at the time his career ended he held the record for most games played.

Credit: Library of Congress

He was second in walks. He was in the top 10 in RBI, doubles, and extra-base hits in general. Even today he’s second all-time in putouts and fourth in assists. He still holds the fourth-longest hit streak of all time and he was a very good defensive player, especially in his era, at one of the most important defensive positions on the field (shortstop)
I think what’s ultimately hurt him is time, the guy played in the late 19th century and early 20th century and while he played in baseball hotbeds it’s still a time period that gets lost in history.

His batting average for his career was only .272 and when walks just weren’t that expected he kind of got lost (His career OBP was .358. The guy was good at getting on base but it just wasn’t recognized as a skill at that point.) He clearly was a man who played well before his time. He walked, got on base, and even hit for power but it just seems that at the time he played and especially when the Hall of Fame became more and more of a thing that Dahlen just was difficult to measure.

Credit: Library of Congress

As advanced metrics get more and more into the mainstream and as they infiltrate the Hall of Fame process more and more I do believe that Dahlen is going to get it. His 75.2 WAR is way too high to be ignored and is the highest among players not in the Hall who aren’t surrounded by scandal (steroids or betting on the game) but until then he’s certainly an interesting player who I hadn’t even heard of until I started this project. He’s certainly a player I want to know more about as well and really give more credit to how good he actually was.

Featured image credit: Library of Congress.

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