The Philadelphia Phillies have been without Chase Utley for the majority of the 2011 season. The Phillies still have the best record in baseball, so do they really need a healthy Chase Utley to win the 2011 World Series? Not quite.
The Phillies are 48-30, 2.5 games better than any other team in the MLB. This impressive start has been mainly due to their pitching staff.
The Phillies are the best pitching team in baseball, posting a 3.07 ERA. The Phab Phour, The Core Four, R2C2—whatever you want to call them—Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt have been marvelous (despite Oswalt's injury problems).
These four guys, along with young gun Vance Worley (2.83 ERA) have established themselves as the best pitching rotation in baseball.
The Phillies have great pitching, but the same cannot be said about their hitting.
The Phillies have been characterized as a team that scores almost solely from the home run, but they can't do that this year.
The Phillies are in the bottom half of the league in runs, batting average, home runs and just about every other statistical category.
The offensive problems for the Phillies have been due in part to injuries, including to star second baseman, Chase Utley.
The Phillies are still doing well, despite scoring just over four runs per game—and even less than that recently.
The Phillies will need some more offense when they face a good pitching team like the San Francisco Giants, who knocked them out of the postseason last year. This offense CAN come from Utley, but they need it from other areas too.
Jimmy Rollins was the MVP in 2007, hitting around .300, with 30+ home runs and 20+ triples. Rollins is hitting .250 this season, with seven home runs and one triple.
If Rollins were to start hitting well from the top of the lineup, the Phillies could begin to score early runs. Scoring early is important, because the Phillies are 30-11 when they score first.
Another area that needs to step up their game offensively is the outfield. Shane Victorino is doing well, hitting .292, but the corner-outfielders are horrendous.
The starting corner-oufielders were Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco in the beginning of the season. Ibanez is hitting only .232, despite hitting almost .400 for over a week earlier in the season. Francisco is hitting only .223.
Which part of the Phillies' lineup needs to improve its game the most?
Michael Martinez was called up from the minors and he has played the outfield quite a bit, but he is batting a pathetic .190.
The outfield used to be a strong point for the Phillies, but they have let the team down this season.
The Phillies have so many issues offensively that it can't be blamed solely on Utley. Even if Utley was hitting well, the outfield is hitting so poorly that they have often been situated behind catcher Carlos Ruiz this season.
Even though Utley would be a useful part of the team, they don't necessarily NEED him to be successful if the rest of their lineup hits as they are capable of.