Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Ways Chase Utley Will Transform the Team

Michael FoglianoAnalyst IJune 3, 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Ways Chase Utley Will Transform the Team

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    WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies fouls off a pitch to catcher Wilson Ramos #3 of the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning at Nationals Park on June 1, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    After going through some ups and downs and finally recovering from a knee injury, Chase Utley is back and ready to go for the Philadelphia Phillies.

    He made his debut this season in late May and is just starting to get into an everyday role.

    Despite his slow start, Utley still has had solid games this season and just needs enough time to get into a groove, especially after coming off an injury. I think Utley will spark soon, which will ignite the rest of the team.

    Although he is not the same player he used to be, Utley still can impact and transform the team in many ways. 

5. The Lineup

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    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31:  Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies at the plate against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 31, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Braves won 2-0. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Now that Utley is back, the batting order has changed and the Phillies will be able to use Wilson Valdez in other places (pitcher?).

    Unfortunately, just as Utley returns to bolster the lineup, Shane Victorino is heading to the DL.

    Regardless, the batting order is much more complete now that Utley is back into his traditional three spot. 

4. Veteran Leadership

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    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Howard #6 talk between innings against the Washington Nationals  at Nationals Park on May 31, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Braves won 2-0. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Utley still is a veteran leader at heart. Even if his bat is not the strongest on the team, he can still be a clubhouse leader.

    He has seen it all actually.

    He has won and lost in the World Series, has been swept in the playoffs, has been to multiple All-Star games and is a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman.

    The experience Utley brings to the table was missing, but now he is back to provide it again.

    Utley is a great team player. His presence on the field alone is a motivating force for his teammates.

3. Hitting

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 23: Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies pops out in his first game back this season during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on May 23, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Utley went 0-5 in during t
    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Utley's bat will be extremely effective this season, especially down the stretch as the Phillies head into the playoffs.

    He certainly won't be the close to his near MVP form of a few years ago, but he can still hit the ball well and I think he will finish near a .300 batting average.

    The Phillies' bats this season have been nothing but inconsistent, but I think Utley will help fight the cause and will eventually be a major factor in turning things around.

2. Fielding

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Justin Turner #2 of the New York Mets steals second base in front of Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on May 28, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris Tr
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Utley may be aging, but his ability to field exceptionally well is still there, as he remains one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball.

    His signature 6-4-3 double play can almost never be broken up by the runner because he is so good at avoiding the slide and getting the throw off to first.

    Wilson Valdez has been a quality replacement for Utley, both offensively and defensively. Utley's return allows the Phillies to use Valdez in a utility role.

1. Confidence

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    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31:  Second baseman Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies (L) talks with pitcher Cliff Lee #33 (C) and first baseman Ryan Howard #6 (R) during a pitching change against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 31, 2011
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Utley is a man with great experience. The team just wasn't the same without him. His return has brought a surge in confidence to the team.

    When one of your best and most experienced players goes down, the players are supposed to stay focused and not dwell on the loss, which is exactly what they did.

    However, in the back of their minds they wanted Utley back, as did the fans.

    Utley's value to the team is difficult to quantify. He provides the Phillies with a swagger that can't be replaced.

Conclusion

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 26:  Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies watches from the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Philli
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    It is great that Utley is back and all he needs to do is find his groove and light the spark. But at the same time, Phillies fans must be patient since he is coming off a serious injury.

    He should rebound quickly and make a tremendous impact for the rest of the season.

    Ultimately, the fate of the Phillies depends on Utley's ability to find his old form and rally his teammates.  

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