Key Stats: Chase Utley reached first base via hit or walk 104 times last year. He wound up with 14 steals. He was stealing a base over 13% of the the time that he reached base. Despite the fact that Utley was 32 and has battled numerous injuries now, that is the highest percentage of steals per times at first base of his career. Charlie Manuel still trusts in this guy to let him run this frequently and Utley still has the ability to make things happen on the base paths. It’s a sign that athletically his game is still there.
Skeptics Say: He’s always hurt and on the field hasn’t shown much aside from the steals lately. The last two seasons, Utley has missed 47 and 59 games. His batting average over that time has dropped 28 points off of what his career average had been until the past two seasons. This season he will turn 33, so it is impossible to ignore the drop-off as bad luck or to call Utley too consistent to turn down.
Peer Comparison: Even with the decline in the numbers, on a 162-game average, the last two seasons Utley has averaged 96 runs 21 home runs, 81 RBI, 21 steals, and a .267 average. Those numbers are better in three out of five categories than Brandon Phillips was last year. Phillips finished the season as a top 40 overall fantasy player. Utley is a top 40 caliber player if he can stay on the field. The question is, will he? All of the sites in what they’re saying are at least hedging their bets. He is not ranked higher than 56 anywhere, but interestingly the experts at Mock Draft Central are pulling the trigger at pick number 55 on average. He will be a veteran worth watching in spring training, but right now we have to go by who he was at the end of 2011. And while he wasn’t great down the stretch, he did hit .438 against the Cardinals in the playoffs and was on the field to begin with.
Lineup Outlook: The Phillies are old. That will hurt them in some way, shape, or form.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #6 Second Baseman; Tristan Cockcroft at ESPN.com: #7 Second Baseman & #75 Overall; Yahoo: #8 Second Baseman & #63 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #6 Second Baseman & #55 Overall; RotoChamp: #150 Overall
Projection: Utley had a career low strikeout rate, BABIP, and line drive rate last year. It was all too strange. Why won’t everthing just go back to normal if he can play to start the season?
91 R 20 HR 87 RBI 17 SB .285 AVG .360 OBP .850 OPS