Since we can remember, Chase “The Man” Utley has been in red pinstripes representing the infamous P for the Philadelphia Phillies. The California baseball player was drafted with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2000 amateur baseball draft. He debuted for the Phillies April 4, 2003 at the age of 24. Now in his last year of a seven-year contract, the 34 year-old second baseman is on the chopping block.
Utley is nothing short of brilliant when it comes the game of baseball. He is a power hitting second baseman elected as the All-Decade second baseman for the 2000s alongside legends like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. He is a two-time NL Champion and more importantly a 2008 World Series Champion. Additionally, Utley is a five time All-Star and a four time Silver Slugger winner.
His career stats include a .288 batting average, 1,304 hit, 204 home runs, 758 RBIs and 125 stolen bases. Last season he had the worst batting average of his career since his inaugural season and played just 88 games, also the worst since his 2003 season.
In the past three seasons, Utley has been hindered by injuries in both his knees. People doubted he’d ever return to full strength, but he has yet to miss a game this season. Injuries will certainly come into question this season and future negotiations with Utley.
This season, injuries have not seemed to bother Utley at all. He leads the team in RBIs (21), home runs (6) and runs (17). He second best on the team in steals (4) and walks (10). His .263 batting average is the third best on the team.
Stats and accolades are certainly important, but they’re not everything. Stats can be misleading, considering Ryan “The Strikeout King” Howard has the second best batting average on the team. And All-Star appearance are basically just a popularity contest.
The truth is, Chase Utley is the heart and soul of the Philadelphia Phillies. Without a doubt, the Phillies need to sign this irreplaceable leader. It’s not the stats or the awards, it’s simply his attitude. He hustles every play regardless of the situation. His baseball IQ is unreal. He continually makes plays for others by sliding into bags, bunting balls in the right place and sacrifices his body at all costs. Without Utley, the Phillies would not be World Series Champions.
Utley wants to remain a Philly as he has told Michael Barkann on Comcast Sportsnet. If he remains healthy all season, signing him is a must and I expect the Phillies organization to stick with him if that is the case. Injuries are huge in professional sports, but leadership is more important. I’d pay Chase to sit on the bench just so he can influence the members around him. The Phillies are 15-18 this season (thanks to horrible pitching from Roy Holliday and Cole Hamels). Utley soul reason the Phillies are competitive. If the Phillies do not resign him, they will not only the heart of the team, but they will be making the worst mistake in franchise history.
By Frank Lippincott