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Year In Review: Chase Utley

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, January 23, 2010 03:34 PM | Comments: 17
2009 Year in Review, Posts

It was August 9, 2006.  The Phillies were making a second half run, but were trailing the Braves by one in the top of the seventh inning.  The bases were loaded when the hard-nosed second baseman stepped up to the plate.  His short, quick stroke sent a double to left center field.  It emptied the bases and gave his team the lead.  He stood on second base, awaiting the team’s RBI machine to drive him in.  A weak Baltimore chop headed towards first base, appearing to be nothing but an out.  The runner had a different mind set.  The runner hustled and safely slid into home plate.  Enter Harry Kalas: “Chase Utley, you are the man!”

The legendary call still sticks with Utley.  And why not?  He’s established himself as today’s best second baseman in baseball.  He is the man.

In the 2008 off-season, it was announced that Utley needed hip surgery, and the recovery time was 4-6 months.  At the time, it was feared that Utley would not return until June.  Being the competitor that he is, Utley wasn’t going to let that happen.  His hard work ethic got him prepared for Opening Day.  By May, his injury was forgotten.

Surprisingly, Utley had a down year — for being Chase Utley.  His “down year” was still an All Star season, and good enough for another Silve Slugger Award.  Hitting .282 with 31 home runs and a .905 on-base plus slugging percentage was a little out of the norm for Chase, but that just shows his caliber.  Utley batted .313 in the first half of the season, but his .204 average in September was the main reason for his drop in production. 

Utley made up for his September slump in the postseason.  He hit .296 with six home runs in the playoffs.  His five home runs in the World Series tied Reggie Jackson’s record.

Utley’s hitting is feared throughout the league, but his other tools make him a dangerous player.  Utley’s fielding continues to improve.  Utley was arguably snubbed of a Gold Glove, as he had a 10.8 ultimate zone rating, which was first among all second basemen in the National League.  In addition, Utley’s one of the smartest baserunners in the league.

It’ll be interesting to see what amazing things Utley does on the field in 2010.  Harry couldn’t have put it any better: “Chase Utley, you are the man!”

2009 stats: 156 G, .282 AVG, 31 HR, 112 R, 93 RBI, 23 SB, .905 OPS

Grade: 9.6/10 –  He had a “down year,” but still put up All Star numbers.  He’s currently the best second baseman in baseball.  If not for a poor September, Chase would have gotten a perfect ten. 

Avatar of Amanda Orr

About Amanda Orr

Amanda Orr has written 713 articles on Phillies Nation.

Amanda has been writing for Phillies Nation since 2009.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Utley’s poor September no doubt was caused by him being tired out and he had a sore foot for a while due to getting hit by a pitch. Does he also not personally train off of the field (non-baseball related training)? Maybe should cut back on this some during baseball season to preserve his stamina. Also consider that last year he had to go thru spring training and probably the first couple of months of the regular season with having to rehabilitating that surgically repaired hip at the same time. I agree that Chase is the top second baseman in baseball and one of the most exciting players to watch. The sky is the limit for Chase this coming season coming off of a more restful off-season. This guy is quite a baseball player.

     
  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Chase Utley continues to be underrated as most people don’t even realize he’s the best player on his own team. He’s a top 5 player in all of baseball.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phillygirl17

    The one that I was waiting for… Amazing player. Just look at what he has done the last two seasons, and injured for both of them! Of all the players the Phillies have, he will be the hardest one to ever see leave, at least for me. He goes out everyday and plays his heart out. He quietly takes the cheers and the jeers (though, that doesn’t happen very often). My friends like baseball, but not Phils fans (I live outside DC), and during the WS they just looked at me and asked who he really is. They knew the name of course, but it was the first time that they really saw what everyone in Philly already knew. That Utley really is an extraordinary player.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Chase is the best second baseman in the league today.
    We have it made!

     
  • Posts: 0 Keith E

    10/10 if I have a vote. My son and I were at the Vet when he hit a grand slam for his first major league hit and he has amazed me ever since. His two defensive plays in game 5 of the 2008 WFS were from another world! This guy is the sh*t! Best baseball player I have ever seen, period.
    GO PHILS!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    Chase Utley should have won several Golden Gloves already, but yet he considers to be under-rated by everyone besides Phillies fans. Honestly, I would say he is one of the best 2nd basemen EVER, and definitely the best one who’s playing right now. Always been one of my favorite Phillies players, and he’ll stay that way for a long time to come.

     
  • Posts: 96 Paul Boye

    Avatar of Paul Boye

    He’s even underrated by Phils fans, in that we often place him below Ryan Howard.

    But yes, he’s on a path to being one of the top 10 2B ever.

     
  • Posts: 0 Gary b

    I have loved ever since he was splitting time with palanco. His hustle is second to none. He conjures up memories of how much I loved Michael jack. He will be a HOF’er and hopefully a Phil for the rest of his career

     
  • Posts: 0 James Kay

    Nobody should be scored a perfect 10 in baseball. It’s not that kind of sport. There are too many variables not limited by firm time constraints, including a fair amount of luck, that determine the outcome of a contest. A 500′ first pitch dinger looks the same in the boxscore as a 10 pitch wind blown down the line off the foul poll homer.

    Utley is not quite in the same class as HOF second baseman Rogers Hornsby (check out his near 10.0 rating 1922 mind boggling stats). Using that as a benchmark, your somewhat generous 9.6 rating maybe should be reduced to 9.0. Utley is a great player who gives the Phillies a solid winning image. Compared to any other past Phillie second baseman, nobody even comes close to his production and intangibles value to the team. He could be scored a 9.95 if he manages to hit .400+ with 40+ homers in the same year. If he does that we may have to start addressing him as Chases Utley.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    CHASEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 Brian Sr. of CO

    How can any Philadelphia Phan not LOVE Chase Utley. As if being the best 2nd basemen in baseball isnt enough, of maybe the “Boo? F you” isnt also enough, how about the fact that he owns New York. If we had a few more Utley’s on the team for the World Series we probably would have won, because next to Lee, I think Utley was the only player to consistantly for the World Series. And I think we all know his numbers against the Mutts. As for not winning Gold Gloves and being “under rated”. Think about the the beginning portion of this post. Chase Utley has several “rival teams” that he plays VERY WELL against. Mets, he always plays well against, Yankees in the World Season, Dodgers quite often. Considering 2 of the 3 largest markets in the country are New York and LA, if there is a player that consistantly makes their teams look bad, the voters in those other large markets will have a tendancy to “forget” about him, or basically not vote for him for some awards, and vote for their player, like Orlando Hudson. Orlando Hudson is a very good 2nd basemen, but be honest, he is no Chase Utley. Thats like trying to compare Pujols to Howard, and as much as we love Howard, he still is no Pujols. However, Ironically I think Howard might have better numbers in St Louis. LOL. Just my take on it, just my opinion, I am not saying I am right, but it doesnt honestly make sense.

     
  • Posts: 0 Keith E

    Rogers Hornsby?
    1922?
    Talk about variables! Those old timers would lose a lot of their shine if they had to play today’s game.
    GO PHILS!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    I’m not sure I agree that the old timers would “lose their shine” if they were playing today. I think the truly great ones would do well in any time frame.

    I absolutely DO NOT AGREE that we can compare Utley with Hornsby, because they both have played in different eras. Slightly lower numbers today might be equal to the higher numbers of certain past players. Hornsby’s great season might match up with Utley’s 2009, had he played in 2009 instead of 1922. Utley may have had the same numbers as Hornsby had he played in 1922.

    Comparing players of a different era is fine, provided you don’t compare too closely. Hornsby was the greatest second baseman of the 1920′s, Utley is the greatest of the 2000′s. That’s as close as you can compare them, unless you saw them both play AT THE SAME TIME.

    (Caps here are not “yelling” but are used only for emphasis. I wish I could use italics, instead.)

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Yeah..I agree…baseball is baseball…put either one on a team in the other player’s era…and that player will probably forget it’s 1922 or 2009..they will play to their abilities..

     
  • Posts: 0 Nick

    Hornsby didn’t have to play against other talent like blacks and Latin Americans, either, but who knows. Both are great players, and barring an Andruw Jones type decline or career ending injury, both will be in the HOF.

    But Chase Utley looks a lot like Ty Cobb, so clearly he’s a pretty good baseball player.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Baseball has gone through a lot of very different offensive environments through the years. Like Nick pointed out, blacks and latinos didn’t even enter the game until well after Hornsby played, and players who played during WWI or WWII faced a diluted talent pool due to conscription. Add in the dead ball era, modern ball parks versus things like the Polo Grounds, and freakish single-year jumps in hitter production, and you can’t just sit one 2009 player’s numbers against some other player from another year.

    But you can compare them with some adjustment. That’s what OPS+ does. It allows you to compare a player’s performance versus the league average of that year, thereby adjusting for all of the era factors. Rogers Hornsby’s 1922 was good for a 207 OPS+, that’s 107% above league average. Ridiculous. Utley’s best in his career was 146 in 2007. Of course, OPS+ isn’t the whole story – there are other metrics that adjust for era and encompass more of a player’s value, like WAR. Utley hasn’t quite turned in a Hornsby-in-his-prime season yet, but he’s no doubt the best second baseman right now and of this decade, and a few more years producing like this, he’ll have punched his Hall of Fame ticket.

    By the way “fielding continues to improve” doesn’t quite capture it – Utley is the best defensive second baseman in baseball, and has been since at least 2006. Check out Fielding Bible’s +/- rankings and FanGraphs’ UZR leaderboard for evidence of that.

     
  • Posts: 0 James Kay

    The salient point of my comment was not to compare Hornsby against Utley in isolation. As was pointed out, that is a delicate and complicated exercise given that they are from vastly different eras. My point was that no player should be given a perfect 10.0 rating for a year’s performance. Baseball players only asymptotically approach perfection, they never realize it. There are always elements of failure and luck based success in their total performance for the year. I implied that even Hornsby’s prolific 1922 season should not be given a 10.0 rating. Utley’s 2009 season, as good as it was, was not nearly as good as Hornsby’s 1922 campaign even with adjustments factored in. Utley is a premier HOF caliber player, but after examining more closely the longevity and dominance of Rogers’ career, I think that one on one the steel fisted Hornsby would kick big bucks Chase’s ass.

     
 
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