Chase Utley Is On Fire (Don’t Put Him Out!)

I don’t mean to alarm you, but Chase Utley is on fire. He’s hot, and I don’t mean aesthetically. Utley has hit safely in all eight games he as played in to start the 2014 season, and now has a 13-game hitting streak dating back to last season. In five of his eight games thus far, he has at least two hits; he’s had three hits in two games. Overall, he is enjoying a .469/.541/.750 slash line in 37 trips to the plate. Despite being a 35-year-old baseball player, it appears Utley still has plenty left in the tank.

Utley has reached base in at least eight consecutive games to start the season, something he has done five times in his career:

Start End Games AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SO BB SB BA OBP SLG OPS
2010-04-05 2010-04-22 15 56 17 19 4 0 6 14 7 15 0 .339 .479 .732 1.211
2009-04-05 2009-04-22 13 47 12 17 1 0 4 12 5 9 2 .362 .474 .638 1.112
2013-04-01 2013-04-12 10 38 8 12 2 2 2 10 6 4 3 .316 .372 .632 1.004
2014-03-31 2014-04-11 8 32 5 15 3 0 2 7 2 4 0 .469 .541 .750 1.291
2007-04-02 2007-04-11 8 35 5 9 4 0 1 3 7 2 0 .257 .325 .457 .782
2008-03-31 2008-04-06 6 21 8 9 2 0 3 6 0 5 0 .429 .519 .952 1.471
2006-04-03 2006-04-09 5 20 1 6 3 0 0 3 4 1 0 .300 .333 .450 .783
2012-06-27 2012-06-27 1 5 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 .600 .600 1.200 1.800
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/12/2014.

Utley has been doing just about everything right: he’s been drawing walks at an 11 percent clip and striking out in only five percent of his plate appearances while getting extra bases on five of his 15 hits. As you can infer from those stats, he has been swinging almost exclusively at pitches in the strike zone:

And hitting for a tremendous amount of power:

He has been pulling just about everything:

Obviously, Utley isn’t going to be able to carry a .555 weighted on-base average, .281 isolated power, and .464 batting average on balls in play through the end of the season. However, Utley may be able to get closer to his 2009 numbers, the last time he was completely healthy. That season, he finished with a .394 wOBA and a .226 ISO, drawing walks in 13 percent of plate appearances and striking out in only 15 percent of them.

Utley’s success hasn’t come out of nowhere. Utley caught fire at the end of last season, slashing .340/.378/.466 between August 28 and September 29. Overall, throughout 2013, Utley displayed the most power since 2009, part of the success being attributable to moving past the knee injuries that bothered him for two seasons.

It’s early, and a lot could change even in the next two weeks. But through the Phillies’ first ten games of the season, there’s a lot to be impressed with regarding their second baseman.

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3 comments

  1. Miguel

    April 12, 2014 05:10 PM

    Utley is healthy and clicking, the best news the phillies could hear….or is this one: Ryan Howard has 5 bb in the las three games, and not only he’s got them but also I have seen him staying away from those down and away breaking pitches, isn’t he? I would like to know your opinion!

    • Miguel

      April 13, 2014 05:15 PM

      Edit

      Utley is healthy and clicking, the best news the phillies could hear….or is this one too: Ryan Howard has 5 bb in the las three games, and not only he’s got them but also I have seen him staying away from those down and away breaking pitches, isn’t he? I would like to know your opinion!

      PD: I just re-read it and sounds like I am looking down on chase utley’s year which is being AMAZING, so I wanted to mend it.

  2. Bobba

    April 14, 2014 02:17 PM

    So if Utley somehow maintains his excellence (without injury) this year and posts a 7+ WAR for 2014, doesn’t it vastly improve his chances for the Hall of Fame?
    If he posts a 7 this year and just another 3 WAR over the rest of his career, he will pass Jackie Robinson, Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar and Ryne Sandberg in career WAR and land in the top ten 2B of all-time (according to Baseball Reference).
    Also, if he gets that 7 this year, his 3.8 WAR in 2011 would be replaced in his 7 year peak-WAR, moving him up by 3.2 and just past Jackie Robinson on the all-time list… and into the top 5. Plus, only Joe Morgan would have had a higher peak among players in the post-integrated era.

    The counting stats and major hardware will not be on the resume (unless he somehow wins MVP this year). Can a top 10 career WAR and top 5 peak-value WAR put him into The Hall? Or does he go down- with Lou Whitaker- into the abyss of ignored excellence?

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