The Dip: Chase Utley – Greatest Phillie of All Time?

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, August 28, 2009 10:55 AM | Comments: 97
Posts, The Dip

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by leaving your comments.

When we think of the greatest players of all time we shouldn’t go by pure stats for often they leave a canvas half painted.  There have always been players whose greatness transcends the confines of mathematical computation.  Players like Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Derek Jeter, and even Curt Schilling come to mind.  All have stats, but all also brought something important and out of the ordinary to the game that others didn’t.

Chase Utley is not in the same class as the players listed above.  But if he and the Phillies perform at current pace for another 5 seasons, he will be.  How would history view a World Series winning second baseman who averaged 30 HRs 100 RBIs 100 Rs with a .300 AVG over the span of 10-12 years? The answer would be with a trip to the Hall of Fame, and depending on how long he can extend his career, recognition as the greatest second baseman of the last 70 or so years.  Better than Sandberg.  Better than Morgan.  High praise.

Thoughts:  Utley does not play out of position at second base.  Unlike guys like Jeff Kemp and Alfonso Soriano, who are hitters that can play second base, he is a natural second baseman who excels at fielding his position.  He is a brilliant baserunner.  He is regarded as the heart and soul of one championship team and should have opportunities to win more.  He is the leader of his team and does whatever it takes to win a game.  Although he might make an occasional error, he rarely does anything inherently wrong on a baseball diamond.  He plays with the headiness befitting a Jackie Robinson.  He exudes the quiet class of Derek Jeter (parade comments notwithstanding) while playing with Pete Rose’s earthiness and grit.  This is not a man crush – this is just reality.

The Phillies have had great players.  Steve Carlton was brilliant but strange.  Schmidt, arguably the greatest to play his position, was aloof, off-putting and too casual for many – that’s his curse.  Utley is a better player than Ashburn and history has obscured the memory of Ed Delahanty.  Utley’s got the game, the attitude, the ring, and the respect of all with whom he plays.  He even loves animals. There has never been a player like him here and the fans adore him like no other that has come before. Philadelphians finally have the player they’ve always wanted – and that’s why he just may turn out to be the greatest Phillie of all time.

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The Dipsy has written 29 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Utley doesn’t excel defensively …

    Utley is a good player.. a VERY good player … I think we need to calm down with mentioning him as the greatest anything though..

    He’s a career .299 hitter, who averages about 30 HRs, 110 RBIs…and 15 Errors a season

  • Posts: 0 NateB

    Utley may become the greatest hitting second baseman of all time. Schmidt was the greatest hitting third baseman of all time. In other words, he has a ways to go, and has big shoes to fill to become the greatest Phillie of all time. I hope so, because I would love that kind of offensive output from him for the next 10 years or so.

  • Posts: 0 theprez98

    5 more seasons with his current level of productivity and Chase will be a no-brainer for the HoF and near the top of this list…but not yet.

  • Posts: 0 Britt35

    I think he’ll pull it off.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    I think I’ve been labeled one to not easily dole out praise but Chase Utley is a unique player in a generation where too many have sullied their reputations. I’m not sure whether it is possible to label one, two or even three guys the greatest in the history of a franchise that’s seen some great players but Utley is well on his way to being held in the same breath as Shmidt and Ashburn, he’s got too long left in his career to be there but watching him is something special.

    His stats don’t pop out like some others when we expect guys to exceed 40 homeruns, near 150 RBI’s and have more gold-gloves than a drag queen to be considered stars but Utley is one. I really agree with the Jeter comparison because there’s a guy everyone outside the Bronx loves to hate and rip his legacy to shreds but it wont stick, the guy has impacted his generation in a way no-one can deny and Chase looks set to retire with a career that will make him one of the best all-around 2nd basemen in the history of the game.

    On the defensive aspect he is a great defensive 2nd basemen. He’s unorthodox at the position but what he lacks in fundamentals he makes up in baseball instincts few in that game today have. Highlight reels of defensive plays seem to be filled almost only with displays of athleticism and how some guys get to balls others can’t, Chase instinctively knows how to make plays others wouldn’t have though to be in a position to make and we’ve seen that time and again with him, that’s why he’s a great defensive player.

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    I think Dipsy likes to stir up a little debate and get feedback for his totally subjective blog.

    C’mon, Utley shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence with the HOF, Michael Jack Schmidt. Baseball’s foremost historians have proclaimed Schmidt as the greatest 3rd baseman of all time; not just for his offense but also for his defensive prowess.

    Come back here (if this site is still in existence) in about 5 years and see if you can make that claim stand up.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    I love Chase and he has become my favorite Philly on todays team. He works hard, plays hard and never complains. He is not a great defensive player but is good enough. Very good hitter. He is not in the same class of Michael Jack or Steve Carlton. Ryan Howard is probably the best Phillies player today. Ryan Howard is a sure hall of fame player. The man has a Rookie of the year award, MVP award, World series ring. He will hit about 550 homers when all said and done. We will see about Chase.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Utley is having the kind of impact at his position that Shmidt had but it’s impossible to compare a career in progress to a retrospective on, especially when that one’s a HOF career considered to be up there with the best of them.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    ^Chase is light years ahead of Ryan Howard for HOF credentials, Howard has the awards but he’s going to be going up against a bag full of guys with similar skillsets of which all will have knocks on them especially Howard. Chase has the benefit of being looked at from a different angle, as a candidate as a middle infielder his credentials are almost unique and will have virtually no knocks against him.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    Did people not read the whole thing? The last sentence clearly states:

    Philadelphians finally have the player they’ve always wanted – and that’s why he just may turn out to be the greatest Phillie of all time.

    Why he MAY turn out to be, not is, or is becoming, or has become but is on his way to being. Dipsy simply raised a question.

    When its all said and done, if Utley continues to produces at the levels he has throughout his career, will he be mentioned, in the same breath as Schmidt and Ashburn?

    Simple as that. People are over reacting a bit.

  • Posts: 0 DT

    I like this blog, and I like Chase Utley, but this post is just nonsense. I am not even saying it isn’t possible that Utley could be the best Phillie ever — but lines like “Utley’s got the game, the attitude, the ring, and the respect of all with whom he plays. He even loves animals. There has never been a player like him here and the fans adore him like no other that has come before” certainly don’t sell me on the idea.

    Let’s discuss stats — yes, there is room for the intangibles, but stats are the baseline for a discussion of the great Phillie ever. And if you want to discuss him being a team leader or having “heart” then let’s have some examples. Don’t give me a laundry list of adjectives that are your opinion and expect me to concede the point to you with nothing else to back up your claims. C’mon.

    Also, don’t get me wrong, but Utley is not the “heart and soul” of the team — players like Rollins or Victorino are. Utley is a very talented, exceedingly cerebral baseball player that is calculating in everything he does. He rarely reacts to almost anything. He is quiet and goes about his business methodically — which is why, despite the fact that he is immensely talented, the fans DON’T “adore him like no other” — fans like him and appreciate the hell out of, but he’s too standoffish to really adore and have a fan-player relationship with.

    At the end of the day, this post is, as Bruce said, just designed to stir up a little debate, but is completely lacking anything even resembling journalism. I know this is a blog, but you have to bring a little more to the plate than this.

  • Posts: 0 Matt Kwasiborski

    I believe Utley was moved to 2B because, like Burrell, couldn’t handle 3B in the majors, so he has been moved. He does have the chance to be the best offensive 2B in history but the best all-around in my opinion is Roberto Alomar. Alomar was a whiz with the glove and excellent with the bat. So, if you are going purely on offense, then Utley MAY be up there when it is all said and done. Kent was merely good with the bat.

    But this is easily the greatest infield in the history of major league baseball. In 10 years people cannot argue that Rollins and Utley were the best in our team’s history and Howard definitely has that chance to be the greatest Phillie 1B of all time as well. Hopefully, he will stay in shape and be re-signed in three years!

  • Posts: 0 Richie

    Chase Utley “YOU” are the Man!!!

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    NJ how do you say Chase is light years ahead for a hall of fame. Not even close. Ryan is in as we speak. His homerun numbers and RBI numbers are off the chart. Chase is not a hall of famer yet. He has a long way to go. He is not in Jeters class yet. I love Chase. He will get there. Ryan is a machine. Yes he ks alot but his numbers are amazing.

  • Posts: 0 mikeB

    Saying Utley is better than Ashburn was is highly debatable but of course they played different positions. Ashburn, in my opinion, was more consistent offensively but of course, he did not hit home runs and rack up the RBIs that Utley does. Ashburn was equal in hustle and maybe a bit faster in speed on the base paths. Ashburn was more of a singles and get on base hitter. I agree with Don M and Bruce. Utley should reach the HOF without any problem but greatest Phillie ever? Not in that category yet. While being a good second baseman, Utley makes his fair share of errors and is inconsistent at the plate. Goes for stretches at times without hitting.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Utley was a 2b … who they tried at 3b in the minors when we had Placido Polanco on the Phillies.. and they knew they wanted his bat in the lineup, but weren’t sure where to put Utley in the field

    Chase has worked on, and improved his defense in the time he has been in the Majors.. but to that is still the weakest part of his game

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Friends – In order to get hip to the premise of the post, one does have to wait and see if Chase can keep up his current pace for maybe 7 more years as a second baseman. I think chances are more likely that not that he will and I think most of you do too. In short, for the argument to make some sense, it requires some realistic extrapolation of Chase’s numbers and contributions. Consistency? So far, he may be the most consistent player I’ve ever seen. And he is universally loved by all Phils fans. More than Howard and Rollins and Hamels. And, if you believe the beloved Wheels, its Chase’s clubhouse and he runs it.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Because Chase Utley is likely to go down as one of the best 2nd basemen in history offensively and has peripheral defensive numbers to suggest he’s pretty damn good defensively.

    Ryan Howard has power numbers in a generation everyone and his dog has great power numbers. He has a lot more to prove in his career to be considered hall worthy when you look at the amount of guys from this generation that are going to be near or have more than 500 homeruns. Vlad, Delgado, Andruw Jones all will be around that plateau, hell Adam Dunn will probably hit 500 homeruns.

    I’m not saying Ryan Howard doesn’t have the potential to turn in a HOF career but in Chase were watching something special. Ryne Sandberg is ‘only’ 147th on the all-time homerun list and had a .285 average, Chase is going to be well ahead of those numbers, I just hope he gets some defensive recognition in the same way David Wright has.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    ^Just to add- If Chase Utley had Ryan Howard’s body he’d be going blow for blow with Albert Pujols. Chase is a HOF candidate because he has a ‘once in a generation mind’ to go along with a body that backs it up, Ryan Howard has a once in a generation body but a mind that isn’t backing it up otherwise he’d be up there with Albert Pujols as a 1st ballot HOFer.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Howard OWNS Utley in offensive numbers…

    and neither one of them the top defensive player at their position..

    Howard would get into the HOF over Utley right now without a doubt

    that doesn’t mean Howard is the better all-around player.. but that is a debate in itlsef

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    If Chase Utley had Ryan Howards body.. his swing wouldn’t be so short, his bat wouldn’t be so quick, and his batting average wouldn’t be .300

    Guys with no MVP, no Batting Crowns, no Gold Gloves.. and .299 career batting averages.. are not shoe-ins for the Hall of Fame

    utley is GOOD .. I haven’t seen GREATNESS from him yet.. have you??

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    I had to agree with the Dipsy on this one. Sometimes when you see a player play everyday, you are more inclined to remember his/her faults more than his/her strengths. Chase is my favorite Phillie because when he’s hot, there really isn’t anything he can’t do. J-Roll is the most out spoken, but Chase is now the team’s leader. The only thing that may hurt Chase is the fact that he came up late just as Howard did. I mostly caught the latter end of Mike’s career, but the man struck out way, way too much for me especially with runners at 3rd/less than 2 outs. Haven’t looked at the stats, so I could be wrong, just going by memory. Chase is widely considered to be well on his way to becoming the greatest 2nd of all-time by MLB. Fans from around the bigs/Commts/players/managers. I tend to agree. Having the greatest 3rd baseman and potentially the greatest 2nd baseman in MLB history isn’t too shabby.

  • Posts: 0 Dhall

    Minor typo…I believe the article should have said Jeff Kent, not Jeff Kemp.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    This is the difference I do see greatness from Utley but not from Howard. I see Utley as a top 5-10 guy pretty much across the board whereas Howard has a few incredible and then a few pretty average numbers.

    I think Ryan Howard will retire with his all-around numbers far inferior to the guy who’ll have similar power numbers which I think will hurt him when it comes to tallying votes. Don’t get me wrong I think Utley will need to pick-up some silverware past the All-star nods and silver sluggers but I think Utley will get in because of the consistency in his numbers. I see a lot of guys who the voters will look at to compare that could weaken Howard’s case whereas I think the comparisons Chase will be given will only help his credentials.

    Just a personal opinion.

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    ….and when Chase is cold, he’s still more productive and has way more productive outs than Mr. Howard…. and he is less likely(game at Citi with standing) to hurt you defensively than Ryan as well. Even though Ryan, to his credit, has gotten a lot better in that area. Why does Howard continue to wait and catch the ball so close to his body? It has cost us before. Ryan, stop using two hands to catch the balls thrown to you and stick your glove out further. Please

  • Posts: 0 ryan

    here’s a question that I have pondered recently: Who would you rather have on your team, Chase Utley or Derek Jeter. I honestly don’t know the answer. It’s a crapshoot to me.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Whatever happens, Chase will not be the greatest second baseman of all time. If you take a look at Hornsby’s and Wagner’s numbers, the both blot out the sun.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Dipsy, aside from the fans’ “lovefest” for Utley that you assured us with absolute certainty, you’re right to say judgment should be withheld until the numbers are in and the “intangibles” further defined.

    However, it’s hard to fathom that Utley would even come close to Schmidt as “the greatest Phillie of ALL time”. After all, Tim Malcom, one time resident blogger here and supposedly knowledgeable about the history of the game, listed Utley 24th on his personal list of greatest Phillie players. Of course, that would be a tentative listing for current players.

    The question that the loyal readers will ask you in the future is will you feel ( it’s subjective of course) the same about Utley five years from now? Will Utley aquire the “greatness” for the length of his career? As they say, time will tell.

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    Jeter has four rings to Chase’s 1, but all the steroid allegations about his team members devalues the “results” that Jeter’s leadership may have had in my humble opion. Chase doesn’t get enough credit because of his demeanor. But his 2run, ist inn homer against the Rays in Game 1 and his amazing play in Game 5 tells us all we need to know.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Bruce – Please see post at 12:31 p.m. Not to be smart, but, can you remember a more popular Phillie in your lifetime? Some people disliked Schmidt. Actually thought he was a creep. People liked Lefty the way they liked getting their mail everyday. And, oh those interviews. For the record, I loved both of them because I knew when I watched Schmidt, I knew I was watching the greatest 3B ever. And Carlton just won. Every time. I didn’t care about them as people that much. And I’m not saying that everyone should feel that way.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Amazinsux

    Dom M— Get ready to be “shocked”! I recall your statement in April that if Chase hit 30 HR and 100 RBI that you’d be shocked! It’s clear that you bash Utley every chance you get. It seems his “WFC” declaration last October really set you off. To the point of clouding your objectivity. You have every right not to like Chase, but to always put him down, based on his stats and leadership to this team, that’s just pain stupid! Get over it. By the way, the Phillies are the WFC’s.

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    are really going to go back to the 19th century? Come on now. Many of those guys weren’t even real ath. back even by 1950 standards Pitchers threw complete games in both games of double headers! Many pitched with broken arms and torn ligaments. The life expectancy was much shorter too. I wonder why?

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Jeter did have a great team around him. He is just a great player. Jeter and Chase are alot alike. Warriors. Jeter might be slightly a better clutch hitter. Just a great ball player.

  • Posts: 0 Bonezy

    Let’s not forget about Sandberg having 9 gold gloves or whatever insane number, a lifetime average over .300 and hit somewhenre in the range of 50 homers one year. I just don’t see Chase being able to do that. Definately in my top 3 of all time (or will be) and that is not just my “Man Crush” talking.

  • Posts: 0 JoeFan


    I really enjoyed your article and I would agree that Chase has a chance to be the greatest ever – although I would also say that he has a way to go. I for one will be thrilled if he finishes his career in Philly. We may also some day be calling Ryan Howard one of the greatest Phillies ever – although I think there’s a good chance he leaves via free agency.

    My earliest memories of the Phils was listening to the Phillies on the radio with my dad in the early 70′s – especially on nights when Lefty was pitching. Did you see Hoffman’s article comparing Lefty with Cliff Lee earlier this week. He mentioned in one 22 day stretch (from late July through mid August 73 or 74 ) Lefty started 6 games, completed all 6 and gave up a total of one earned run in all 6 games combined. That’s incredible legend to surpass.

    One point in your article I’d have to disagree on is that Michael Jack being aloof or Lefty being strange took away from their greatness. While I would agree that it took away from how much the fans loved them it certainly didn’t take away from how great they were. Let’s all hope we can some day say Chase was the greatest Phillie ever – because that would mean we have some seriously good baseball ahead of us.

    I’d like to hear everyone’s opinion on whether this current team is the best Phillies team ever. I think if they can win one more WS they’d have to be a lock wouldn’t they?

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Dipsy, yes I can. I’m old (make that very old..smile) enough to have seen Richie Ashburn played CF. He was immensely popular; winning two batting titles certainly helped when playing on a mediocre team. I’m showing my bias since he was my childhood “idol”.

    Let’s not forget several other very popular Phillie players…Roberts, Allen, Bunning, Callison, Cash (“yes we can”), Dykstra and yes, Rose too..to name a few.

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Dipsy, after Schmidt wore the wig and sunglasses during warmup prior to the game, the connection was made with fans and beloved thereafter.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Just for the record: Don may be the most-biased person ever in matters regarding Chase WFC Utley.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    My problem isn’t with Utley as it is with Utley-FANS who for some reason think he’s the greatest thing since the cell phone..

    Utley is a good player..

    Utley doesn’t hit for the most power.. doesn’t hit for the highest average.. doesn’t play the best defense.. doesn’t steal the most bases ..

    But he is probably TOP 3 in all of those offensive catergories!!! I’m very, very, very glad that Utley is on our team.. but he’s not this “GREAT” players YET.

    AmazinSux .. I think you’re right though.. I probably did say that, because I thought that he would be out longer (I also thought Myers was done for the year though.. so I guess that injury/recovery isn’t that big a deal)

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Because you guys are ready to build his shrine, and write his Hall of Fame speech for him …

    Does anyone think that if they stay on their current paces.. Utley would get in the Hall of Fame over Ryan Howard ??

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Sandberg’s lifetime was .285. Sans the WS ring. He was great though.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 JoeFan

    Don – you may be right about Ryan Howard, but I’m just afraid he may leave the Phils for bigger $ after his contract is up. In my humble opinion if we’re agruing who is the best Phillies ever – then you have to give more credit to those who play their whole career here – or at least most of their career. I would say that Rose (& Dyskstra for that matter) had most of his best years elsewhere so he would get overlooked in my book. Let’s hope the big guy and Chase both play out their careers in Philly and years from now we can be making these arguments at the end of their careers.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    What is this fixation with whether Chase will get in over Howard? They’ll both get in for God’s sake. And I know I wasn’t around for Ashburn but my dad says Utley may be a little more popular. Dave Cash. Loved him. Willie Montanez…..a big favorite with Lonnie Smith, Bake McBride. Personal favorites aren’t really the same thing.

    p.s. Did we get Hoffman yet?

    The Dip

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    No shrine. Just reality.. And relax. We’re all Phils fans here. If Howard didn’t strike out so much, Chase would get a lot more fast balls to hit. Thus, higher power numbers, high slug%, more rbis, higher batting average, and a higher chance for an MVP award….. Tell me another player that played as hurt as Utley did without saying a word. Perdo another Phillie. Thats’ about it. Chase had his surgery after the season. He’s a Cali guy, but he stayed in Freeze-a-delphia and worked his tail off. Still most experts said Utley wouldn’t be back until late May or June. And mutt fans rejoiced. And they told us about it. Remember that? But Chase was back and ready to go by opening nite. Are u kidding me! As HK said “Utley, you are the man!” End of story.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    That was my fault with the HOF talk ..

    It started by my saying that neither is that great defensively.. and Howard’s offensive numbers OWN Chase Utley’s ..

    I just don’t like that 97% of guys in Philly would BLLOOWW our 2b … he’s a really good player.. but Rollins has carried us on his back before.. Howard has carried us on his back before.. and Hamels took us over the top last year

    yet Utley always seems to be the hands-down favorite.. Yea, he’s a gritty player.. that’s great.. definitely an All-Star.. and definitely one of the best all-around players in the game .. but when people start talking “Greatest All Time” about a guy who has been in the league 5 years, and hasn’t done anything eye-opening or record-setting … its just too much, too soon in my opinion

    And when a large chunk of the arguement is “If he keeps it up for 5 years..” that kinda validates what i’m trying to say ..

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to wait to crown Chase Utley as the greatest ballplayer of all-time ..

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    Sorry Dipsy, but the Giants claimed Hoffman off waivers. Though some predict they won’t be able to work out a trade. That sucks

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    Let the waiver line wars begin? Giants put in claim for Hoffman who they really don’t need just to make sure the Rockies, Dodgers, Phillies not get him. Smart, but frustrating…. It’s Lidge or Myers for the post season? Wow..

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    I thought about Howard and thought about another Howard…Frank Howard and I’m not sure if he has made to the HOF or not. But if he has then I’d say if Ryan can keep his AVG from dipping below .250 and the strike-outs down then with his improved fielding esp. since Frank Howard and glove + oil and water, he’ll a make it. Plus he’s also has the ring.
    I think Utley could be well on his way to wearing the crown as the greatest Phillie ever. He’s a five tool guy. Women want to have his baby. He is the glue that holds the line-up together but not what I think of as a team leader. Cons: the name “Chase”, it so Martha’s Vineyard or Peyton Place. “Richie” that’s a baseball name or J.A. Happ…ultra cool…but the current coolest is R.J. Swindle
    I think Utley is more likely than Ryan to see the Fame…
    First time i’ve ever seen a pump fake throw to home
    Not a clutch as Jeter at the plate…if he was I’d probably build a shrine

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Lots of rain coming. Please dont tell me more double headers. hard to win both games in one day against good teams.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    No Hoffman No…now you’re gonna have to wear orange and brown….Hardees uniforms

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