One More Note on Chase Utley

So, this happened earlier today. It’s a live chat with Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News. As I’m not a regular consumer of PDN material, I had forgotten that Hayes existed, but he put himself back on the map — not for the right reasons. Let’s highlight a few of his greatest hits from the chat:

[Comment From PhilliesPhan] Even though it will not happen phillies should consider trading Utley as he is a liability in the field and in the next 2 years he will need a new position such as first base because in the long run he will not be a second baseman. This money could be used as money to sign Werth, and maybe even trade victorino and move Werth to center and Brown to RF. [Hayes] Yes. But Utley has a [limited] no-trade [clause].

I would have gone with “No, Utley is awesome. Why would you trade him?” personally. I would have also dropped the banhammer, but that’s just me.

[Comment From Greg] What do you think about moving Utley to Left field after the ibanez deal is done? I’m worried about his Knoblauch yips. [Hayes] They tried him in the OF. He’s worse there. He’s a good first baseman, and that’s it.

I heard he’s also an elite second baseman.

[Comment From PhilliesPhan] It is funny that over the years Rollins and Howard get crucified in this city but Big Baby Utley gets nothing…… [Hayes] Yes. It is interesting. Except Utley is white. And he likes to curse in public. Imagine if Jimmy had done that?

*cough* Jayson Werth *cough* link

[Comment From Guest] the arrogance of jimmy and howard contribute to people being critical of them. they are the first to accept praise. chase does not look for attention so he does not get a lot of bad attention [Hayes] Chase hides from criticism. He hides from everything. Some leader.
[Comment From Guest] I love when journalists make claims with no proof. Offer any evidence? [Hayes] Are you blind, pal? You have two MVPs in town who get nothing but ripped. Rollins is worth more to this team hitting .250 than Utley hitting .300 with 30 dongs, simply because he can catch. And what have Howard or Rollins done that was remotely as vulgar and offensive as what Utley did after the parade? Evidence? World Bleeping Champions? Come on.

It goes on. For about five more comments or so, but I’d recommend stopping here since you’re probably hemorrhaging brain cells. Although you would miss some pretty entertaining race-baiting. Entertaining theater, for sure!

If you missed it, I wrote a lengthy defense of Utley earlier today. I thought I hit most of the important bases in terms of stats, but when I was farting around Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I came across this jaw-dropper: Since 2000, 13 Phillies have finished a season with five or more Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Chase Utley is responsible for five of them, including four of the top-five seasons.

Rk Player WAR/pos Year Age BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Chase Utley 7.7 2009 30 .282 .397 .508 .905
2 Bobby Abreu 7.1 2003 29 .300 .409 .468 .877
3 Chase Utley 6.6 2008 29 .292 .380 .535 .915
4 Chase Utley 6.6 2007 28 .332 .410 .566 .976
5 Chase Utley 6.2 2005 26 .291 .376 .540 .915
6 Jimmy Rollins 6.1 2007 28 .296 .344 .531 .875
7 Jim Thome 5.9 2003 32 .266 .385 .573 .958
8 Ryan Howard 5.8 2006 26 .313 .425 .659 1.084
9 Scott Rolen 5.8 2001 26 .289 .378 .498 .876
10 Bobby Abreu 5.8 2000 26 .316 .416 .554 .970
11 Chase Utley 5.7 2006 27 .309 .379 .527 .906
12 Jayson Werth 5.2 2010 31 .296 .388 .532 .921
13 Bobby Abreu 5.2 2002 28 .308 .413 .521 .934
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/26/2010.

Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard‘s MVP seasons made the list, but both finished ahead of only one of Utley’s seasons (2006).

In my article earlier today, I wrote:

I’m overreacting to one madman, but I’ve seen the way irrational sentiment can sweep through Philadelphia and it is not pretty.

I may have underestimated the power of ignorance in the mainstream media. After all, Christine O’Donnell is a legitimate candidate to hold office.

Utley is really freaking good at baseball. To say otherwise is to deny a basic truth, like saying that grass is not green and that the sky is not blue.

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  1. Al

    October 26, 2010 08:25 PM

    This gem is pretty indicative of his diligent work:

    [Comment From Mike in SJ]
    Thanks for your time Marcus…What do the future prospects look like in the farm system? Do the Phillies have the developmental personnel to establish a new core in the next 5 years? I’m thinking back to the WS win in ’08 and the core was homegrown.

    Marcus: The farm system is shoddy, pillaged the past 2 years to win now.

    [Comment From Kyle]
    That’s completely inaccurate concerning the farm system. The Phils have a top 10-15 farm even with the trades. The issue is that all of their talent in A ball

    Marcus: Talent in A-ball is worthless. Talent in Double-A and Triple-A means something.

    I didn’t realize that prospects were worthless until they hit AA. It’s very convenient of him to forget that the centerpiece of the Halladay trade was Drabek, who had just finished High-A. Taylor was flipped for Wallace, and the third piece, D’Arnaud, had wrapped up a season at Low-A.

  2. E

    October 26, 2010 08:27 PM

    Today on WIP Amaro said Ibanez is one of the best defensive LFers in the game.

    He Also said.

    Raul Ibanez was just as productive as Jayson was this year.

  3. Dukes

    October 26, 2010 08:57 PM

    Bill, thanks for sticking up for Utley. He had a tough NLCS, but that’s it.

  4. Bill Baer

    October 26, 2010 08:59 PM

    There was a pretty good discussion on Twitter about Amaro re: Ibanez. I think he was simply building up Ibanez’s trade value. I wouldn’t read much into it.

  5. SJHaack

    October 26, 2010 09:00 PM

    Thankfully I can prove you wrong on one point. Not only is O’Donnell not a legit candidate to hold office, some guy named Nate Silver thinks she has less than a snowball’s chance to gain it.

    @E – I am willing to grant Amaro some leeway on comments like that less than a weekend removed from the Phillies elimination. Anything that narrows the perceived talent gap between Werth and Ibanez is something he can and will spin.

    Bill – What do you make of Utley’s yips during the playoffs the past two seasons? I mean, besides the obvious that the fact he’s so stellar the rest of the time accentuates any tiny mistake made. Is there rhyme or reason?

  6. E

    October 26, 2010 09:02 PM

    Amaro doesn’t believe in defensive metrics. I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Pretty nice thing for Amaro to do, bash Werth.

    Amaro is an angry, short little man. Arrogant kid he is.

  7. Moose

    October 26, 2010 09:37 PM

    If Philly fans and people supposedly in the know (Missanelli and Hayes) are dumb enough to suggest trading one of the most valuable players in all of baseball, then we deserve every remark made about us being stupid ignorant fans.

  8. Scott G

    October 26, 2010 10:33 PM

    Was no one else as offended as I was that Hayes is allowed to go as far as did in that chat? I mean those were very unprofessional things that he said.

    Just last week Juan Williams was fired by NPR. While I don’t think he should have said what he said, it was nonetheless a personal sentiment, and in no way was it meant to represent anything other than his honest feelings.

    While I thought most of Hayes’ remarks were laughable because of his idiocy, I couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable with his insanely racist statements.

  9. Dan

    October 26, 2010 10:45 PM

    “I’m white and black so I’m far from racist…”

    I wasn’t aware that certain ethnic backgrounds prevented one from being a racist…

    Regardless, he should be fired. He absolutely knows NOTHING about baseball. Rollins is more valuable than Utley? And he’s really pulling the card that Howard and Rollins have MVPs and Chase doesn’t? It’s easily arguable that Jimmy and Ryan didn’t even deserve to win theirs.

  10. BS

    October 26, 2010 11:11 PM

    Does Marcus Hayes even pay attention to baseball? I can’t recall him writing a single article about the phils throughout the season. They might as well put a rodeo clown not named cody ross on the chat seat.

  11. JohnE

    October 26, 2010 11:14 PM

    To the point about A ball prospects being worthless, it’s kind of true. A lot of times with A ball pitchers scouts drool over a guy with 95mph fastball (no other pitches) and rate him high and then an injury or inability to get anyone in AA out keeps guy from going any further. Works same way for hitters. Banking on a lot of good A ball prospects to pan out is sort of like buying lottery tickets and expecting to win. If it happens, great! But just assume at best some of those guys “might” make to majors one day.

    I still remember a daily news story from the mid 90s about these 4 golden arms tearing up A ball for the Phils…they were being hyped within the organization as maybe the next Glavine/Smoltz/Avery. Dave Coggin was the only one of the 4 to make it out of AA. He hung around as 5th starter/long man in pen for Phils for a few years early in Bowa era. The point is you really don’t know much beyond raw talent until the guy starts doing it well at AA. Jason Knapp was as close to A ball untouchable as you could find 2 years ago and last I heard he flamed out in Cleveland’d system after being included Cliff Lee deal last summer.

  12. Jake

    October 27, 2010 05:35 AM

    @scottg- I was totally offended. Hayes basically called me a racist because I’m smart enough to understand baseball and respect Utley’s value while at the same time seeing the flaws in Howard and Rollin’s swings. Look MH- Rollins is awesome and the spark plug for this team. However that doesn’t excuse his failings as a leadoff hitter. Howard is a monster home run producer. Historic. I love him. However I detest strikeouts. THe most unproductive out in baseball…and he does that a lot. Utley – with the exception of this years playoffs…doesn’t strike out much, doesn’t pop up much and is much better defensively than either of the two guys. I’d also link to point out that in last year’s world series Utley was pretty much the only guy hitting. 5 homers. Howard had what? 13k’s in 6 games? Come on…utley has flaws- like the yips in the playoffs but his range certainly makes up for that.

    So understanding that makes me racist? It was inflammatory and merely designed to get his name in the press cycle. I believe the race baiting has to stop. Hayes prob. also thinks I’m racist because I think LeBron’s a jerk for how he left cleveland and McNabb’s an inaccurate passer for the west coast offense.

  13. Nick

    October 27, 2010 07:29 AM

    Marcus Hayes has now joined Missanelli, Gonzo and Eskin as one of the worst sports voices in Philadelphia.

    I think Hayes was way out of line with his remarks during the chat. He sounded arrogant and dismissive about nearly every point made during the session.

    The fact that he holds up Jimmy and Ryan’s MVP awards and Howard’s batting average during the NLCS as the metrics to prove they are better and worth more to the team than Chase Utley. During Rollins’ MVP year, he wasn’t even the best player on his own team. As Bill points out, Utley had 6.6 WAR; Rollins had 6.1 WAR.

    I love Rollins, Utley and Howard but have had problems with each of them during their careers. The one thing I give Utley credit for is that he seems to be harder on himself privately than any fan or sportswriter can be publicly.

    While his defense in the playoffs has been a problem the past two seasons, Howard has had his fair share of gaffes, including the dropped ball in game 6 the other night. He catches that and the Phils go into the bottom of the inning still up 2-1.

  14. Richard

    October 27, 2010 08:06 AM

    See, the problem with this kind of idiocy is it renders less believable actual race problems, less visible actual race-based privelege, which is general and pervasive. I can imagine a scenario in which an Utley is more popular than a Rollins–or, more to the point, receives less criticism generally–because he is white. The thing about such a structurally racist society is you really don’t notice yourself when you’re being less fair towards people because of race. Flagrantly BS calls of racism are only going to make well-meaning but imperfect people more likely to dig in their heels against it.

    Hayes sounds like a rabble-rouser of the worst kind. I mean, it would be one thing if no one were criticizing Utley’s post-season performance while dumping on Howard–but isn’t in fact everyone criticizing it? Didn’t everyone think he played poorly? And as far as the baseball sense goes–good luck convincing people that Utley’s an elite defender. Most people will never understand that.

  15. Jim

    October 27, 2010 08:34 AM

    It’s important to remember that we value players differently from “journalists”. As fans, we care about the ability of a player to increase the likelihood of our team winning a game/series/championship. A journalist cares about the ability of a player to give him a juicy quote that will allow him to get his story/column written as quickly as possible. When you look at things from that perspective it becomes a lot easier to see why a journalist would perceive Jimmy to be a more valuable player than Chase. Also, it’s a bit trite to say that Utley is overall a great player but had a crummy season and series. No one reads or pays attention to the commentator that says what everyone knows to be true. To get noticed, a writer has to be “edgy” and “contrarian”; he or she has to “stir the pot” and “provoke conversation.” If they’re making shit up on the fly to do so, well that’s all in a day’s work.

  16. Dave

    October 27, 2010 09:09 AM

    Man, I just read that. What a disgrace.

    “Where’s your hood?” Really, that’s being allowed on

    Has anyone emailed this clown yet?

  17. Scott G

    October 27, 2010 09:09 AM


    Isn’t the point that Bill led us to the chat (aside from Marcus’s views) that many people don’t understand that Utley is great and just had a down post season based on a few of the questions? The same goes for Werth. I feel like that is partially why sites like Crashburn exist: to teach people the important ways to look at players (i.e. sans RBIs and Rs which are essentially team stats).

    Maybe those seemingly straightforward articles you mention that journalists don’t want to write would get the attention of more people if the writer tried to use some actual, meaningful statistics (unbeknown to many mainstream media and newspaper readers). Instead of using stats which are unbiased and clairvoyant, authors will appeal to the “old baseball man” ideas of small ball and intangibles or even apparently racial issues.

    A quick look at baseball reference’s AL and NL WAR leaders looks like this:

    AL- Longoria, Choo, Cabrera, Cano, Beltre
    NL- Pujols, Halladay, Jimenez, Gonzalez, Votto

    Looks pretty fair to me.

  18. bill

    October 27, 2010 09:38 AM

    This guy is clearly an idiot, and I have no concern the Phillies will actually trade Utley.

    I just love his note re: Utley’s “decline.” He’s probably looking at his batting average or something equally useless, when in reality Utley’s first “down” year was this year, when he missed 1/3 of the season.

    Question about BB-REF WAR there though, how is Thome’s 2003 WAR higher than Howard’s 2006 WAR? I am assuming defense, and I know you don’t subscribe to Fangraphs WAR but Howard’s is 6.5 and Thome’s is 5.0 for those years. Just seems odd to see Thome so high there.

  19. mikkyld

    October 27, 2010 11:29 AM

    Sadly there are a lot of blacks who sincerely believe that blacks cannot be racist simply because they are black.

    Clearly that is not true but it is fairly widely (and again sincerely) believed.

    This type of discourse is precisely why it is impossible to discuss racism and try to address its root causes to the degree that is possible – because criticism of any kind leveled against a black can so easily be perceived (or portrayed even when it is not perceived) as racism.

    Juan Williams should not have been fired for his comments, though Marcus’ do come close to justifying dismissal – especially if he has done similarly over the years and been told to stop. Hopefully there will be some outcry by his readers, of whom I am not one thankfully.

  20. CH Phan

    October 27, 2010 01:07 PM

    Bill: Thanks for drawing our attention to Mr. Hayes’ interview & calling this out for what it is: juvenile, inappropriate, contemptible & lazy thinking.

    If I could, I want to get this thought out of the way: Imo, prejudice on every level, about anything the human mind can think of exists now & has always existed as long as living creatures have walked the earth. Humans aren’t the only creatures that hold prejudices. As long as a creature can see, hear, smell, taste, and/or feel – it can also hold a prejudice. Extremes are part of the human condition, prejudice is part of those extremes. This country & its society is not immune, nor is it the only one. We are no better or worse than any other. What we see now, what we read about now has always existed.

    None of this is an excuse for prejudice or for the allowance of it around us. It’s just a written – shaking of the head – a written ‘get over our arrogant-selves’. It’s just somehow laughable to think of ourselves as having progressed such a long way from primitive man or animals or any kind. We just aren’t that different.

    I’m also constantly staggered at how cavalierely & how often words that should be used only to terrify or bring dread like ‘racism’ are thrown around by ppl around me & in the media. It demeans the word, the act, & makes us question the resulting horror of real racism when it is in front of us.

    At first I couldn’t tell if I was naive & missing something or if honestly — nothing was there. But NONE OF THE ABOVE HAS ANYTHING TO DO W/THIS UTLEY DISCUSSION. It never did. Why – how – who was first to throw “racism” into this equation, I have no idea. But it’s a truly twisted, demented idea of what is reality to the largest majority of ‘normal thinking’ people. Seriously I think giving this interview time & energy is a waste. Shut him down, and anyone else who brings this topic into this discussion.

  21. schmenkman

    October 27, 2010 04:22 PM

    This was good too:
    [Comment From Doc]
    Do you expect a rebound kind of year from J-Roll in 2011, or a continued decline? It’s a contract year, but he’s another year older.

    Marcus – Big rebound. 30 hit him in the gut this year.
    I hope he’s right about a rebound. Rollins has had two below average BABIP years in a row now, and it will be interesting to see if that’s the new normal, or if it reverts to his career average.

    But also, Rollins must have had a delayed reaction to the hit in the gut, since he actually turned 30 in November 2008.

  22. bob dee

    October 27, 2010 08:38 PM

    marcus are you kidding me. get over the profanity. chase is worth 5 jimmy’s and he’s better than ryan easily. you brought race up you racist.

  23. Jeff

    October 27, 2010 10:34 PM

    I love how he points out Utley’s clearly chartable decline but then goes on to say he likes Baez, he just had a down year.

  24. Sean Cunningham

    October 28, 2010 12:27 AM

    My brain almost exploded from reading those comments. My god, these people are actual journalists? Thank goodness I got out of that major!

  25. Kyle

    October 28, 2010 08:04 AM

    Jimmy and Baez aren’t in decline, they will be great next year. But Utley is a no good bum, am I right?!?!!

  26. sean

    October 28, 2010 09:37 AM

    some guy named nate silver? i guess you don’t play fantasy sports ever, he’s been around.

    as for the errors utley gets about 10-13 errors a year with a pretty even split of 50 50 for throwing/fielding. his throwing motion is no different in the playoffs compared to the regular season. as far as the errors last year, at least one was on a double play play which he was blown up on. people are just focusing way too much on the small sample that is the playoffs.

    it annoys me to no end when people use averages of careers to back up their argument as far as using howard’s numbers which up until this year peple would say he “averages 50 home runs”. that means nothing when your median is 47/48 and you haven’t gone over 50 since 4 years ago.

  27. Brooks

    October 28, 2010 11:48 AM

    In the past 3 years we have been the World Champions, NL Champs and now NL runner-up. It’s been pretty successful if you ask me. Chase is the core of this team. Did we forget about his excellent 09′ WS display? Man, guy has a rough series and he’s instantly disposable. Seems to me we’ve got a few front-runners lining up to bash a home grown success story.

  28. SJHaack

    October 28, 2010 05:29 PM

    “some guy named nate silver? i guess you don’t play fantasy sports ever, he’s been around.”

    That is the joke.

  29. Strugz

    October 29, 2010 02:11 PM

    wish Vai would take M. Hayes in the ring and beat the living shit out of him just to make a point

  30. Jeff

    October 29, 2010 07:05 PM

    And how long ago did Rollins and Howard win MVP? So by Hayes’ logic, if you win MVP you’re entitled to stink for 3 years and still be considered valuable.

    Also, Hayes just thinks that sabermetrics are geeky stats created by the white man to show that white people are better at baseball then minorities. In his world, Ryan Howard should be the best player in the universe b/c he hit 45/140 three years in a row, but then the white man came in with his wOBA and his WAR and tricked everyone into thinking that Utley was actually better.

  31. Michael

    October 30, 2010 03:59 PM

    If any of you ever had the opportunity(?) to watch Daily News Live on Comcast on those night Marcus “The Miserable” Hayes is a guest, then perhaps you can understand, based on his own suspect demeanor, his comments about Utley. I believe it’s inappropriate for a member of the mainstream media to make race based comments like the ones Hayes made to make his case against Utley. What purpose do they serve? They explain nothing about Utley and make Hayes look small. I don’t understand the need for that type of commentary. Lastly, I’ve been a baseball fan since I was five years old when my Dad first took me to a Phillies game at Connie Mack Stadium. Actually I think it was still Shibe Park back then. That was sixty years ago. I mention this only to preface my comments about the fancy statistics now used by so many to measure baseball performances. I don’t understand them, but I do know this, it’s what happens on the field that measures the quality of a player. To me all this WAR stuff is meaningless and tells me nothing about how well a player will perform in the future. In baseball only present performance on the field counts. As proof I refer you to the Phillies dismal post-season performance. Saber mathematics would have predicted otherwise, I’m sure. And to that I say, so what!

  32. hk

    October 31, 2010 06:37 AM

    Michael, first of all WAR is not a predictive stat. It is a descriptive one attempting to show which players produced the most value in a completed period. It is much better for determining whether a certain player earned his salary than it is predicting which team will win a short series. That being said, the tallies of cumulative team WAR have had pretty high correlations to team wins. People who analyze baseball statistics, sabremetricians if you will, will tell you that anything can happen in a short series. This does not preclude them – or the mainstream media for that matter – from making predictions as readers apparently like to read the so-called experts opinions before series begin, but sabremetric stats, traditional stats and one’s own eyes are probably all fairly equal component’s in successfully predicting winners of short series.

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