Weekend Positivity: Utley’s Strong Start

Utley’s early defense and base running flashes have Ian hopeful that his knees can withstand the 162 game season. Photo: Matt Rourke, AP

One of the defining moments of my transformation from youth into adolescent was the moment I “got” Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley. Senator Al Franken’s over-the-top Smalley character was a perfect knock-off of the self-help fad of the late 80’s and early 90’s. His pleasantness and his belief that he was “good enough, smart enough” and that “people liked (him)” made his character an easy target for guests, including Philly favorite Charles Barkley. Today marks the launch of a new weekly column at Phillies Nation – “Weekend Positivity”, launched in part for my affinity for Daily Affirmations but in part because the Phillies are off to a poor start but there has been a number of highlights thus far. One of the standouts thus far has been second baseman Chase Utley.

In four games, Utley has posted a .467/.471/.933 line with a pair of doubles, a triple, and a homer. But more so than his hitting, it has been has base running and fielding that have me optimistic for maintained success through 2013. Yesterday afternoon, Utley was one of the lone bright spots in what was a major disappointment. The way Utley changed directions on the Alcides Escobar‘s first inning ground out that deflected off of Kendrick’s glove let us forget for a moment that Utley’s knees may have made a seemingly routine play into an early season accomplishment. Then in the third, Utley stole third off of one of the strongest throwing catchers in baseball Salvador Perez.

Utley’s steal of third was smart on a number of levels. First, Utley’s recognition of whether he was held on or not, or to the extent he was held on rather, was spot on. In the slight shift the Royals employed with Utley on second and Ryan Howard hitting, Utley recognized that he could extend his lead a bit more and likely recognized that Mike Moustakas was playing much closer to second base than he normally would if anyone but Howard was up. The steal put Utley at 33 of his last 34 steal attempts and helped extend his lead among all active MLB players in SB% to 89.71%.

These columns won’t always be long – sometimes they won’t even be this long. But the weekend is time to relax from work and enjoy some baseball. Hopefully Utley’s early successes will make tonight’s game that much more enjoyable.



  1. Lefty

    April 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Utley’s knees will break down, it’s only a matter of time. RAJ has ruined this team, Howard stinks, Rollins is older than my grandmother, Doc is done.

    Just kidding Ian, positive is refreshing- thanks.

  2. schmenkman

    April 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Nice writeup.

    “The steal put Utley at 33 of his last 34 steal attempts and helped extend his lead among all active MLB players in SB% to 89.71%.”

    It’s not just active MLB players. Utley has the highest SB% in MLB history, for players with 100+ attempts.

    He’s been often called the best base runner in baseball, and for good reason.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      April 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Wow – I knew it was atleast among all active. Didn’t realize it was among all in MLB, ever. Very cool.

      • schmenkman

        April 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        And just to be clear, “MLB history” here means since 1954, which is when reliable caught stealing data begins.

  3. George

    April 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    At least someone is being positive! I’ve been tiring rapidly of all the negative comments the first 4 games have generated, and am happy to read something good for a change.

  4. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    April 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Great idea, Ian, and an enjoyable tidbit of positivity to boot!

  5. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    April 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Just thought of one more positive, and it concerns the bullpen. At least we do not have Qualls. Poor Miami: Chad Qualls gave up a three-run homer to Daniel Murphy in the bottom of the seventh.
    Lmao! Let the positive energy flow today guys!
    Go Phils!

  6. bacardipr

    April 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I dont have the Stats but if i memory serves me correct the Phils tend to start slow. Yeah they may have some streaks here and there. Then usually they turn on the afterburners around the All-Star break. Just wondering if they can continue that pattern.

  7. Ken Bland

    April 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Ross Gload checking in at 6-14 off Big Game James with 4 doubles in his career.

    Gload has become classic whatever happened to material.

    Alright, pay attention, the Phils are gonna score here.

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