Chase Utley Had A Pretty Good Week

With six games in the books, the Phillies are now merely 3.2% of the way through the 2014 baseball season and everything that has occurred thus far falls under “small sample size” caveats. Although we are largely unable to extrapolate meaningful data and trends from what we’ve seen the Phillies do this past week, what we can do is savor the game that has mercifully returned to our television sets for our regular 7:05 (or 8:05 or 2:20) appointments. The return of Phillies baseball brought enjoyable moments including Jimmy Rollins’ opening day slam and a superb start by Kyle Kendrick, but the most impressive achievement was the display Chase Utley put on this week for Philadelphia fans desperate for meaningful baseball after an impossibly long and snowy winter.

Remember when there were concerns over Chase Utley’s lack of power and production at the plate in spring training? He wasted no time at all putting those concerns to rest. Through the first six games of the regular season, his .458/.536/.833 slash line looks like it’s straight out of a video game and his National League leading 1.369 OPS is reminiscent of 2001-2004 vintage Barry Bonds. He has hit safely in every game of the season, giving him an active 11-game hit streak when counting back to the end of the 2013 season. The 11 hits he’s already recorded puts him on pace for what would be a record shattering 297 hits this year. Gosh, it’s almost as though spring training performance means nothing.

I tend to shy away from prognosticating, but I feel fairly confident in asserting that we will not see Utley approach 300 hits this season or challenge Nap Lajoie‘s modern day record single season batting average record (.427). Chase’s pace will slow, but as long as he’s hitting like Ted Williams reincarnated, we might as well enjoy the show.

Here are a few highlights from Chase Utley’s week:

1) Utley’s go-ahead 2-run HR on Friday afternoon

2) Utley’s solo shot on Saturday

3) The 300th double of Utley’s career

What does Utley’s scorching hot start mean? Honestly? Not much. It guarantees neither the health nor the future production of the Phillies’ oft-injured second baseman, but, as a wise man once said, who cares? Watching baseball is fun and watching a player like Chase Utley dominate on the baseball field is thrilling whether or not it’s a sign of things to come.

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  1. TomG

    April 07, 2014 01:51 PM

    Almost as heartening as Chase’s actual performance this past week (“actual” in the sense that his fell in for hits and/or went over the fence for dingers) was Howard’s performance yesterday, hitting the ball hard at least four of the five times he batted, using both sides of the field, and not striking out once.

    Yes, he faced all righthanders, but still. At some point, if he keeps that up, some of those hard hit balls will fall in and some will go over the fence. Especially if they use Howard mostly against righthanders. (It’s probably a pipe dream to hope he’d be fully platooned with JMJ or Ruf once he returns. And speaking of JMJ, how ’bout how he’s doing against lefties?)

    Also encouraging: the quick adjustment Dom has made to outside pitches. He was looking like a younger, more slender Howard in the first few games on those low outside pitches, but now he’s hitting them to left and laying off the ones outside the zone. Once he established that he won’t chase the low outside pitches that are out of the strike zone, and assuming he keeps hitting the ones that are strikes, pitchers might start coming in to him. Then? It’ll be Dom Bomb time.

    I’m hoping this starts happening by Wednesday, because I’ll be at that game. But if it starts tomorrow, I’m good with that too.

    Yes, I know, all of this is irrelevant to a post about Utley. But once you acknowledge that he’s Chase Muthaf**king Utley and he’s awesome, what more is there to add?

    • tom b

      April 07, 2014 05:09 PM

      y’all into the kool aid kinda early. shows the state of things when you can go 0 for 5 off mediocre pitchers and deem that promising. lol

    • Steve

      April 07, 2014 05:31 PM

      While it was a hard hit ball, there’s no excuse for Howard swinging at the first pitch with 2 outs in the ninth. The Cubs’ already weak bullpen was falling apart in front of our eyes. I believe the pitcher had just thrown 4 straight balls to Utley. If it was a 2-3 run game, and Howard could have tied or taken the lead, I’d be ok with it. Even if he hit a home run, the Phillies would still have been losing. At that point we needed to avoid outs , and get as many people on base as possible. At least look at one pitch.

      • EDGE

        April 08, 2014 01:43 AM

        He swung at a 2-0 pitch, do you mean he should’ve looked at a strike?

  2. Ginner207

    April 07, 2014 02:24 PM

    I’ll be honest, this first week of the season has raised my hopes for the year. The pitching is solid, the offense is better than expected and the defense could be worse. Keep it up and the injury bug doesn’t hang around, we could be looking at a possible wild card (high hopes!). They could be 5-1 right now! But I love Chase Utley and it would be awesome to see him keep it up and get into another all-star game. I think, when healthy, he’s still by far the best second baseman in the league. Rant over.

  3. Oliver

    April 09, 2014 06:36 PM

    *4:05 for us west-coast types

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