Getting eliminated from the playoffs sucks.
In the moments immediately following elimination, it’s hard to stave off feelings of bitterness, anger and disappointment. It’s hard not to run with the overwhelmingly negative emotion and rail against the closest thing. For some, that opportunity arose when Ryan Howard stared at strike three. For others, their ire was directed toward Chase Utley and his disappointing postseason. Hey, everyone copes in his or her own way, but it’s important to maintain some perspective (especially when it comes to a franchise cornerstone).
Chase Utley played in 115 games, in large part because of a thumb injury that required surgery, and, as a result, recorded some stats that were not what we’ve become accustomed to seeing. All of these stats were Chase’s fewest since 2004, when he played in just 94 games:
- 117 hits
- 20 doubles
- 2 triples
- 16 home runs
- .275 batting average
- .445 slugging percentage
- 124 OPS+
- 3.5 oWAR
So the guy is human after all, huh? No one will argue that Chase had one of his typical years, just as I’m sure few will argue that injuries and fatigue probably had their fair share of effect.
What is most certainly arguable is the notion of trading Utley. One “subpar” season – or, microscopically, one bad postseason in which Chase hit just .182/.333/.227 in 27 PA – after a run of historically good ones is no cause to call for Utley’s head.
I won’t derail this post into a defense of Utley against the trading hordes, so instead I’ll just say this: in the land of arbitrary stat endpoints, Chase Utley has had six seasons with .275/.375/.445 or better, with a 120 OPS+ or higher to boot. Only Charlie Gehringer (11), Rogers Hornsby (10) and Eddie Collins (8) have ever had more seasons meeting those criteria as a second baseman than Utley (Utley registered his sixth such season of those numbers in 2010, too, for what it’s worth), and all three of those gentlemen are Hall of Famers.
Utley didn’t have a great season, be that because of injury, fatigue, aging, slight skill decline or demonic possession, but he’s signed to an affordable deal for a player of his caliber, and he’s a face of the franchise. We can be disappointed in 2010, but we can be assured of Utley’s dedication to returning to top form in 2011.
PAUL’S GRADE: 7.3/10
PAT GALLEN: 7.2/10 – Yes, the injury injured his chance at a productive season, however the writing was already on the wall for a down year before his thumb gave out. His not-so-good playoffs didn’t help, either.
NICK STASKIN: 7.1/10 – A down year for Utley, is almost an up year for any other second baseman in baseball. If you compare this season to almost any other second baseman in MLB, it still measures up…just not to the production we are used to.
Tomorrow: Placido Polanco