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.