Chase of Postseasons Past

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, October 22, 2010 04:00 PM | Comments: 423
Analysis, Posts

To say Chase Utley is having a rough go of it this postseason would be, well, an understatement. After Thursday’s 1-for-4 in the Phillies’ pivotal Game 5 victory, Utley is hitting just .200/.286/.300 in the 2010 playoffs. His lone extra-base hit was a solo home run in Game 2 of the NLDS against Cincinnati, and all of this goes without mentioning Chase’s normally stellar defense has now taken a turn for the quaky. Suffice to say, Chase’s lack of production is concerning.

We’ll leave speculation as to any potential lingering health issues for those more expert in diagnosing such things, and instead look at what makes this 2010 postseason so different for Chase.

Respect once again to the crew at Baseball Analytics for their superb analytical tool and the production of these super spiffy graphics. But before we get to the eye candy, a straight-up look at Utley’s slash stats for the 2008, 2009 and 2010-to-date playoffs.

2008: 14 G, 64 PA, .220/.391/.460, 3 HR, 13 BB (1 IBB), 14 K
2009: 15 G, 66 PA, .296/.424/.648, 6 HR, 12 BB (1 IBB), 12 K
2010: 8 G, 35 PA,  .200/.286/.300, 1 HR, 3 BB (1 IBB), 4 K

Obviously, Chase is at a full series’ worth of games’ disadvantage on ’08 and ’09, and none of these is fully representative of The Man. But this goes beyond the numbers (which are still concerning, small sample and all), because something about Chase just seems off. Well, it does to me, at least.

The first red flag is Chase’s diminished slugging, sitting at a tidy, robust .300, piggybacking on the regular season, when Chase posted a .445 SLG, lowest since his rookie year. Let’s take a look at some of those pretty heat maps now, eh? These are Utley’s SLG on balls in play by pitch location in the postseason.

Top row: 2008, 2009
Bottom row: 2010

There are a couple of interesting things to note here. As 2008 and 2009′s maps show us, Chase cared very little for pitchers trying to paint the outside corner. From the outer third of the plate to the furthest extent of Utley’s balls in play, Chase slugged .560 and .938 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. In 2010, that number plummets to .188, reestablishing the outer edge of the plate as a zone of attack for opposing pitchers. Chase it still putting those outside pitches in play, but is barely inflicting any damage.

Another pattern evident in previous postseasons is Chase’s patience for the fastball. Chase drew 23 unintentional walks in the ’08 and ’09 playoffs, getting himself on base even when his balls in play didn’t fall, making himself effective in ’08 despite the .220 average. When Chase did get a pitch to hit – a fastball anywhere in the strike zone – he made pitchers pay. Utley’s SLG on fastballs in the zone in the last three sets of playoff series:

2008: .941
2009: 1.286
2010: .222

The Phillies have gotten this far by way of their pitching muscle and a few timely hits, but they’re going to need their franchise second baseman to step up if they want to keep playing.

Disclaimer: I am not advocating trading Chase Utley in any way, shape or form, as a notable radio host seems to advocate considering. That’s lunacy. Just dissecting a cold streak, that’s all. Also, photo of Chase via the AP.

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About Paul Boye

Paul Boye has written 58 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    Really there are no excuses.
    The day I mention injuries or health issues will be the first time.
    You are what you are.

    Who is a notable radio host? Stop listening to them. They are basicly all morons.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Maybe if he stands even closer to the plate he could reach out and smash those outer-low corner pitches. And get on base via HBP, otherwise.

  • Posts: 0 Philly Geoff

    I love Mikey Miss…

  • SAID!

  • Posts: 0 krukdriver

    For me, it wasn’t the play last night where he couldn’t get it over to Halladay, it was the next one. (For the 3rd out.) After fielding it cleanly, he was extra careful, took his time, and then almost threw it into the Phillies dugout – a lunging grab by Ryan was the only thing that separated Chase from another error. That play bothered me.

    I’m at work – the boss it coming – gotta go!

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I just heard Mikey Miss “suggest” that a bit ago. I’m not THERE yet….but…

    Food for thought, I guess.


  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    If they lose one of the next 2 anything is possible. Because its unacceptable. The Giants are paying Zito 125 million and Rowand 60 million to not play.

    Anyone have a preference for playing at 4 or 8 tomorrow?
    I am thinking 8 s better.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck


  • Posts: 0 Bob Myers

    8 is better, except Cliff Lee gets more rest before he faces us in game 1.
    A 4PM start means Cliff tires himself out in game 7, which means he probably can’t pitch against us in game 1 of the World Series.

  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    I wouldn’t advocate shopping Utley, but if the right deal came along anyone should be available on the trade market…especially a guy on the downside of his career. Let’s face it, putting aside all the warm & fuzzy memories of 2008, most of this current team falls into that category. I don’t know what kind of player Utley will be by 2013 (making $15 million a year), but it sure looks like his best years are behind him. It’s always better to move a guy a year early than a year too late.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 krukdriver

    For me, it wasn’t the play at first where he threw it past Halladay, (nice backup by Chooch), but the one right after that. (For the 3rd out.) After fielding it cleanly, he almost threw it into the Phillies dugout – only a lunging grab by Ryan separated Chase from another error. That play bothered me. It was like he was having a hard time believing he could make an easy throw to first. I haven’t checked the other threads to see if anyone had comment on that play, or any theories as to what is going on in Chase’s head.

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    You guys are talking as if Utley was David Eckstein this year.

    His power numbers were down, sure, but there’s hardly a multi-year trend working here. There’s no chance – none, absolutely zero – that you get fair value in return in a trade. Not worth it, and not practical anyway.

  • Posts: 0 krukdriver

    (sent comment to quick…)

    …but… if you know what’s up, fill me in.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Ok…. 4 then.

    That means….Yankees are still alive.

    Not only does Lee pitch in Game 7 on Sunday and would mean he’s unavailable in WS Game 1 on Wednesday..


    It also means that the Yankees would have a shot (albeit a small one) of advancing.

    I’m getting ahead of the situation….but I truly believe that the Yankees are a better matchup for the Phils.

    However….first things first. Let’s take care of tomorrow.

    PHILS IN 7!!!!!!!


  • Posts: 0 krukdriver

    …sent comment TOO quick to check my sh*tty spelling!

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    Home fans always over value thier players. Its human nature.

  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Nobody has said he was Eckstein, but Utley’s no longer the best secondbaseman in the game. His BA, SLG%, & OPS have gone down each of the past three seasons. That’s not a multi-year trend?

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 Phillistein

    In 2008 Utley had 33 home runs, 104 RBI, and 177 hits.

    In November 2008 he underwent hip surgery.

    And frankly, has not been the same player since. There have been flashes at times of the old Utley. However, those that have watched him over the past 2 years don’t know if he’ll ever put up those numbers again.

    His slugging percentage went from .566 in 2007 to .508 last year to .445 this year.

    Maybe it’s all those HBP, or the fact that he’s the type of player that wears down because he plays at full-tilt.

    Whatever the reason, at 32 next year, it’s difficult to imagine him totally regaining that old form.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    I guarantee that thumb is hurting him. probably not the only thing either. I have a very similar thumb tendon injury that i am dealing with right now. I hurt it a few months back and I figured it would hurt for about a week or so but It still hurts today just as much as the day it happened. It really lingers. and just thinking about gripping a bat and the contact made how it would jolt it makes me cringe. I am telling you most other players wouldn’t even be out there.

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Rangers look like they don’t want to waste Lee tomorrow. 1-0 bottom 4.
    8pm is best for me anyway.

    IMO- Who cares who’s been worse, both Utley and Howard have to come up big now, or they’re going to be on a golf course soon. Ruiz,Vic and the rest of the guys have held the ship steady, now it’s time for the stars to shine on the big stage.

    “Let them have it.
    All of them, for real”

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Ryan H – I have had multiple hand and arm surgeries. Hands,arms are some of the toughest parts of the body to heal. I know first hand (get it) how it feels.

    That noted, they are ballplayers, they make a living with their bodies, they have to look at the example set by Doc Halladay and play through it. They don’t get to cringe, they get paid to swing hard and bear the pain so long as it can do no further structural damage. I assume Chase has been cleared by medical staff to play, so play well.

  • Posts: 0 ChuckS

    I think Chase problems lie in the fact that he wants to win so bad that he tries to do everything. He does everything he can to be a leader on the team. When things aren’t going well for the team he tries to over complicate the game by trying to hard. He needs to stop TRYING to be the man, relax, and realize that when he just plays he is the man.



  • Alex Rodriguez goes down looking. Beautiful

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    how poetic is that. the guy who left texas for the big money and big spotlight of NYC makes the final out so his old team can go to the world series. shakespeare woulda liked that story.

    it’s always so so nice to see the yanks lose. now let’s win the next two so we can get the next shakespearian story of cliff lee vs. his the team that scorned him

  • Posts: 0 Philly Texan

    Phillistein has it right. Utley hasn’t been the same player since the hip surgery.

    If you look at the numbers and watch him play the past two years, it’s clearly evident what the problem is.

    He doesn’t drive the ball the other way anymore. The only way he generates any power is by pulling pitches on the inner half. That works sometimes if he gets that pitch.

    But when he gets a fastball on the outer half of the plate, he can’t do anything with it. Vintage Chase would drive it the other way for a single, double, whatever. Now, he tries to pull everything and is rolling over pitches to second base.

    That color graphic above says it all. His only power zone is down-and-in pitches. Almost everything esle, he’s rolling over and grounding out weakly.

    He’s one of my favorite players. But we have to fave facts: the guy’s a .270 hitter with average power. Not sure that’s worth the salary.

  • Posts: 0 jeff

    Congrats Texas World Series Champs. Nobody will beat these guys.

    God I would trade Howard, Utley and a pack of smokes for Josh.

    Hey Howie pay attention thats what a hitter in clutch moments looks like.


  • Posts: 0 bostonkate

    I hope those yankee bitches have a nice off season. I got a little too much satisfaction out of seeing them lose.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Maybe I am in the minority here but the only “old” players on the Phils are Raul and Jose. I think Chase has some terrific years left in him and we have not seen the best he has. Same with Jimmy although 07 could have been his best.. 32 is NOT old.

    Have Phaith – they are ours for a few more years regardless.

  • Posts: 0 bostonkate

    Brooks- I agree with you 100%. Raul, I wouldn’t mind seeing him go. I think chase still has a few good years left in him. He hasn’t been the same since his injuries, which, and I could be wrong, but I think it has contributed to his problems. Give him a few months to rest in the off season and he’ll come back better than ever.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Before this season started, I was ‘frothing at the mouth’ about the prospects of seeing everyone hit for their potential, even their averages. Chase at about .300 with 20-25 hrs, Jimmy at .290 maybe close to 20 hrs, Vic .285-.290, Howard .275-.280 with 40-45 hrs, 130 (+) rbi, Werth .280 30 and 90 rbi – not even including Poly, Chooch or Raul – no one had to be outstanding, they all are outstanding! Honestly, that is why for the first time I purchased a FSP (I wound up getting 5 partial season plans) -

    I still have high hopes for next year, even if Jayson does go on. OK, so I am a ‘Homer’

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Brooks i agree with you…this old ish is a little played out…(slightly exaggerated) Jamie Moyer? anyone….This is baseball not something highly intensive like football…as long as one is in decent shape, eyes work well and no injuries or an accumulation of prior injuries i think age has little do with it..now of course this is within reason…not expecting a 59 year old to be out there…Fact besides Werth and Chooch…everyone of starters is on a downward spiral this year…how or why is this i dont know..even Shane an he is only 29 i believe….

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    It’s always nice watching history being made. I’m happy for the Rangers and their fans and Nolan Ryan and all that.

    Let’s win Game 6 tomorrow night and Game 7 Sunday and then start feeling a bit queasy about Cliff Lee.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Agreed bacardi – Jamie Moyer – phenom.
    THe entire team had a power melt, most of them their averages slipped as well and still, they won the NL East because the bats showed just enough, especially at the end to compliment the best pitching staff in Baseball today.

    Kate, even if we do lose to Lee – it wont be that bad, after all, its only 1 or 2 games.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Sorry for keeping on like this – I’m actually a little concerned that if the Phils win games 6 & 7 of the NLCS, the power slumps that have plagued them all season long could suffer them in the WS.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    One game at a time guys and gals.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    we need to get mick billmier back with his binoculars in the bullpen. that’s the problem

  • Posts: 0 KEITH

    Ruiz,Vic and the rest of the guys have held the ship steady, now it’s time for the stars to shine on the big stage.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan Hoffman

    Anyone who thinks Utley is a problem, I want you to keep in mind in a season where he saw an awful batting slump for a month from May 17 to mid June, and when he missed nearly 2 months due to an injury which inherently requires it to linger past the time he returns, and by seeing his SLG fall to its lower level since his rookie year, the man still put up a 5+ win season. A 5+WIN SEASON. ARE YOU KIDDDING ME?! He is not mortal.

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    First pitch tonight officially 7:57

    One game at a time, true that Manny, but just for discussion’s sake.

    IF we make it that far, didn’t we know it was destiny we’d face Lee? Didn’t we know the day we traded him that he’d be our nemisis in the WS? I felt it all along, I just thought he’d be moved to the Yankees and that would be the AL champ.

    And I don’t think Cliff is superman, very very close, but not superman. He can be beaten, he’s overdue to be beaten in the postseason.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Someone earlier used the phrase “team that scorned him” in referring to Cliff Lee’s departure from the Phillies.

    Seriously? Scorned?

    We now have the best pitcher in the National League, the best comeback pitcher in all of baseball and the best pitcher in a Phillies uniform since he came here at the end of August.

    Some people will never be happy I guess.


    PHILS IN 7!!!!!!!


  • Posts: 0 Bob Myers

    I’m turning off Philly Sports Radio since it’s all complaining and whining all the time.

    No, I don’t put my head in the sand about this team’s weaknesses, but we’ve got a chance to draw even with a GAME 6 and go to a Game 7.

    Can we turn the page from fretting, worrying, and complaining please and focus on what we’ve got going to win game 6?

    The NEGATIVITY is ridiculous!!!

  • Posts: 0 Bob Myers

    What I meant to include is, it’s a lot more balanced towards the positive on Phillysnation. Let’s keep it that way!

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    LOL – So true Bob. Radio hosts want it that way, their opinions are tailored to elicit the negative response, and they screen the calls to get the ones they want.

    “If you have a good experience with a service company, you might tell a few people. If you have a bad experience you’ll tell everyone you can”

    It’s human nature.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I was just talking about that very thing with a supplier of mine the other day…that people feed off the negativity but when it comes to a positive experience they aren’t as apt to gush about it.

    And then when too much negativity is surrounding them…they complain about that and don’t understand why they have attracted it….after they just helped to manifest it within their own lives.

    Don’t mean to get all “psychological” here. I certainly don’t know all the answers….or even very many of them.

    But what I DO know is….

    PHILS IN 7!!!!!!!


  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    It’s the same thing with Trolls, sometimes they are even planted by the site themsleves, NOT SAYING PN DOES THAT!!!, but it’s very effective in building the negative. What’s the motive? Advertising likes to see lots of hits. If one troll can cause 20-30 comments on a board, it’s good for business.

    “It’s about the money, it’s always about the money”

    Phils in 7

  • Posts: 0 Bob Myers

    Phils in 7! Yes, that’s what should be resounding on the airwaves and blogs today. Build up our team while they’re in the war. There’s plenty of time to take the season apart later.

    We’re one of three teams who have a shot at being World Champions. Maybe we should flood sports talk with positivity.

    Mikey Miss is ridiculous to talk about unloading our stars right now. It may be good for advertising, but he’s not a real fan of anyone but himself.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    And to think that I actually like Mikey Miss. He’s one of the better talk show hosts out there. (the WIP guys suck).

    PHILS IN 7!!!!!!!


  • Posts: 0 Kate

    I honestly think that we need to wait and see what Utley does next year. Same with Rollins. Rollins didn’t have a chance to get into any kind of groove or rhythm this season.

    Utley’s struggles are just a little more worrisome, but again, I think he deserves the chance of a completely healthy 2011 to get himself back in the game.

    I know they’re getting older and for Howard, he might be having an off-season, but his numbers are still up there. I think he’s just fallen into the trap of trying to up his hitting for average numbers rather than hitting for power.

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