Chase Utley has had himself one heck of a spring, batting .448 with a .500 OBP, four home runs, and nine RBIs in 29 at bats. The 12-year veteran is poised to have a great season as long as his legs cooperate.
Utley’s health is a big question mark heading into this season, although he’s coming off his healthiest season in the last five years, playing in 155 games in 2014. Before that, Utley only managed to appear in 432 of 648 games the previous four seasons.
He missed time at the beginning of spring training this year due to a sprained ankle he suffered back in January, but the second baseman looks like he has fully recovered from it, homering in four of his last five at-bats this spring.
If he is able to stay on the field, the 36-year-old could be the best second baseman in the NL, and one of the best in MLB.
Last season, Utley was one of the hottest hitters in MLB to start the regular season, batting .355 by the end of April. However, he wasn’t able to maintain the same success through May, but still finished the month with a .291 batting average and .358 OBP.
Utley’s production took a hit in June, where he managed only a .240 batting average. His average went up a tad in July, where he hit .268, but his average steadily declined towards the end of the season, batting .243 in August, and .220 in September.
Utley may have started the season hot, but he had a weak finish. Nobody expected him to maintain his .355 batting average, but it was disappointing to see his production drop so sharply by season’s end.
The Phillies’ offense needs Utley to be more consistent this season. He has been very consistent in his career, but at age 36, the reality is that Utley will unlikely be able to maintain a .290 or above batting average like he once did in seasons’ past
Another reality is that Utley could very well join Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon in trade discussions come July if he’s playing well. Utley has stated his desire to remain in Philadelphia for as long as he can, but if he’s playing well, there will be plenty of teams interested in the Phillies’ most beloved player, and Amaro will have to do what’s best for this rebuilding team.