Round One S56

Bill Dahlen at the plate

Bill Dahlen is our top seed in today’s season. He will face top competition in the personages of Hall-of-Famer Joe Kelley, speed specialists Willie Wilson, Hugh Nicol, and Garry Templeton, as well as slugger Shawn Green and old-timers Baby Doll Jacobson and Roy Cullenbine.

The Hitters

Bill-Dahlen-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

Bill Dahlen achieved “Top Seed” status by being very good, for a very long time. In his 21 big league seasons, “Bad Bill” picked up over 2400 hits, scored 1590 runs and knocked in another 1234. Among his hits were 413 doubles and 163 triples and his 1064 walks boosted his .272 batting average to a .358 OBP. He is rated as the tenth best shortstop in baseball history according to the JAWS rating system. This turn of the century great is not in the Hall-of-Fame, one of the few top seeds that is not.

Joe-Kelley-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

A key member of the old National League Baltimore Orioles, Joe Kelley hit .317 over a seventeen-year career that straddled the beginning of the 20th-century, and like any good Oriole, he drew enough walks to boost his OBP to a stellar .402.  In addition to his 1421 runs scored and 1194 RBIs, his 194 lifetime triples are good for ninth place on the all-time list.

Willie-Wilson-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

Willie Wilson was well-known for his speed but you are selling him short if that is all you know about his playing days. A two-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and a batting title winner, Wilson also led the league in triples five times, totaling 147 in his nineteen-year career. And he was fast! He stole 668 bases between 1976 and 1994.

Shawn-Green-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

Drafted straight out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays and in the big leagues by the time he was 20, Shawn Green established himself as a top performer in his fifteen-year career. His 445 doubles and 328 home runs secured him a slot in the playoff but he also had a pretty impressive slash line of .283 / .355 / .494 for an .850 OPS. On May 23, 2002, Green went 6 for 6, hitting a double, a single, and four home runs!

Baby-Doll-Jacobson-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

Baby Doll Jacobson was a bit of a late bloomer, not really blossoming until returning from Naval service in World War I at 28 years of age. Toiling for the rarely competitive St. Louis Browns, the 6-3, 215 lbs Jacobson hit for a .311 average in his eleven years in the Major Leagues.

Hugh-Nicol-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

At 5-4, Hugh Nicol was one of the smallest players in Major League history. Never much of a hitter, averaging .235 when the rest of his league was in the mid-.240s, he was a great outfielder and one of the fastest base runners. He still holds the record for stolen bases in a season at 138 but it is important to note that this record was set in 1887 when the rules were different than they are today.

Garry-Templeton-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

A solid defensive shortstop, Garry Templeton was named to three All-Star teams and gathered 2096 hits in his sixteen-year career, batting a solid .271. He qualified for the tournament based on his 106 lifetime triples. FUN FACT: Templeton was the first switch hitter to achieve 100 hits from each side of the plate in 1979. In 1980, Willie Wilson became the second to do it! Honest, I did not plan this.

Roy-Cullenbine-Card Baseballs Greatest Player Playoff

In the 1940s, baseball men looked at home runs, RBIs, and batting average. Roy Cullenbine hit .276 with 110 homers and 599 ribbies in his short, ten-year career. What they didn’t see – they didn’t see it with Ted Williams, either – was that Cullenbine could work the count for a walk and in his final season at only 33 years old, smacked 24 round-trippers. His lifetime OBP was a stellar .408. His placement on the Offensive Winning Percentage list qualified him for the playoff.

The Results

Joe Kelley11242.727*WON*
Roy Cullenbine10054.64912.0
Shawn Green8173.52631.0
Willie Wilson7876.50634.0
Bill Dahlen7480.48138.0
Garry Templeton6787.43545.0
Baby Doll Jacobson6391.40949.0
Hugh Nicol41113.26671.0

I am certain that Roy Cullenbine would have thought 100 victories would have secured him first place for the season but they were not enough, as he finished 12 games behind Joe Kelley. Kelley hit .242 as a team en route to 112 winds and the first-place finish. The league hit a combined .209.

Season Highlights

  • One Willie Wilson had 114 SBs.
  • About the only thing you could say for Hugh Nicol is that the team winning percentage was higher than the team batting average. He finished a disappointing 71 games back and 22 games behind seventh-place Baby Doll Jacobson.
  • There were three no-hitters, including a perfect game tossed by a Warren Spahn vs. Jacobson.

Kelley, Cullenbine, and Wilson are joined by Shawn Green in Round 3, while the others get a second chance in Round 2.

Tim Bruno

Tim has been a baseball fan for most of his life and has played a great deal of baseball and softball over the years. Although his playing days are long behind him, he remembers back when he was an extremely fast catcher with an extremely bad arm. He has been playing Strat-o-Matic baseball since he was 14. Tim is currently living in southwest France and writes A LOT about coffee at He has also written Procaffeination: A Coffee Lover's Dictionary, which will be available soon. You can find out more about Tim's writing at and if you want to contact him about the tournament, drop him an email at

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