Chase Utley has become a household name over the past few years. Not just for those in Philadelphia, but for baseball fans everywhere.
Some say he is the best second baseman currently playing the game. Others take their assessment to a new level by predicting that he will be the best second baseman to ever set foot in Major League Baseball.
For what reason do people admire Chase so much? Managers and coaches seem to fall in love with his hustle and passion for the game, claiming that he is the model of a true baseball player.
Women, too, love Chase, falling in love with his—well, just with him. Chase also serves as a role model to young people who aspire to play the game of baseball. And to Phillies' fans, Chase is the player that you hope to see coming up to the plate with two outs, down by a run in the ninth.
When he delivers at the plate or on the field, we all hear the voice of the late and great Harry Kalas in our minds saying, “Chase Utley, you ARE the man!”
Chase is everyone’s favorite, and has proven that he can fulfill fan expectations. He's been selected to the All-Star Game each of the past five seasons, and finished in the top-20 of NL Most Valuable Player voting five of the last six seasons.
Now it’s time for a bit of truth in the Chase Utley saga. Over the past three seasons, Chase hasn’t exactly proven to be the clutch, line-drive home-run-hitting, exciting player that he was in the past. Of course, we see glimpses of vintage Chase Utley often, but is he really the same player anymore?
After a multitude of long-term injuries, extensive hitting slumps, and sloppy defensive plays, some people are starting to believe that Chase Utley may have reached his breaking point. If you’re one of those fans who want to be slightly blinded by Chase’s charm, take a look at some statistics. You know what they say—statistics just don’t lie.
Chase Utley Stats Chart:
Clearly, Chase has been experiencing a downward trend in offense since 2007. Since then, he has gradually worsened in vital aspects of the game—like total bases, slugging percentage, hits, runs batted in, games played, and his batting average. The only stat that maintained better production from 2007-2009 was his home run total—reaching a career high in 2009 with 33, but still failing to reach even half that in 2010.
Another concern with Chase is his aforementioned injury problems. If there was one thing that could spoil the greatly anticipated 2011 season, it would be an injury to a key player like Utley.
With Chase already entering into Spring Training 2011 with soreness—unable to even play in a game yet—he has the team, Charlie Manuel, and, most importantly, his fans wondering if he will ever truly reach his MVP-caliber self once again. Is he really the player everyone thought he was, or will he continue his downward spiral?
Only time will tell.
Hopefully, Chase will see some game action soon so the concerns about his health can be eliminated. Then he can begin the journey towards an injury-free season—one filled with those oh-so-special moments where we realize that Chase Utley really is the man.