Philadelphia Phillies: Chase Utley's Return Finally Gives Spark to Phils Offense

Eric CaspersonCorrespondent IIMay 26, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 26: Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits his first home run of the season during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on May 26, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 10-4. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Chase Utley made his much anticipated 2011 debut this week in the Phillies series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Utley finished his first night back going 0-for-five, but his presence on the field and in the lineup became immediately noticeable.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who for the past few seasons have had one of the best offenses in the league, have been struggling mightily to remain consistent throughout the current season.

Last year, the Phils averaged 4.8 runs per game in a season where six regulars hit over .275 for the year.

This year has been a struggle to say the least. The Fightin' Phils are only averaging four runs per game this year, and in baseball terms, that is a big difference. Only two everyday players are hitting even over .265.

Where did this offense suddenly disappear to?

I will give you two words: Chase Utley.

Utley has not played a single game this season until this week and the Phillies offense has been a wreck. Utley's return has seemed to spark not only the rest of the lineup, but also the incredible atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park. How many standing ovations has he gotten since he returned four games ago?

They say hitting is contagious, but even if Utley is not hitting .300, he still provides the spark to the Phillies lineup that they desperately need.

Jimmy Rollins used to be that guy, but it is now clear it all lies with Utley. He is the type of player every manager wants on his team. He will do anything and everything to win ball games.

Since Utley's return, the Phillies have gone 3-1 against a very good Reds team and are averaging seven runs a game. Now I know that seven run average will not last, but do you see my point?

Chase Utley's return has sparked the Phillies lineup and it makes them an even more dangerous team than they already are. The Phillies certainly still have questions in their lineup, but they are sure glad to have their franchise player back at second base.