If He Played For Any Other Team, Chase Utley Would Be My Favorite Baseball Player
It pains me to type that, since Utley plays for the motherfucking Phillies, but the guy is just a phenomenal baseball player. And there’s too much to like about him, as opposed to the other douchebags on his team. Shane Victorino is a little piece of shit Hawaiian who plays dirty; Jimmy Rollins runs his mouth and wins MVPs due to it, even when he doesn’t deserve it; Ryan Howard is an overrated slugger who strikes out on a lefty slider seemingly every time I see him at the plate; and Brett Myers beats his wife and puts his kid in a Confederate flag shirt.
I’m sad that Fangraphs already beat me to this post, but I already had the idea in my head when I remembered the article. Yes, it’s only from 10 days ago, fuck you I’m going ahead with it. Albert Pujols might be the most insane hitter on the planet, and also the best player period, but Chase Utley is right there behind him. Utley might not be what you’d refer to as a “five-tool player”, but fuck if he doesn’t do everything you’d ever want a player to do on the baseball field. He even looks like an old-school baseball player while he does it. (a.k.a. white!)
Utley plays second base, a premium defensive position. Maybe it’s not quite catcher or shortstop, but it’s still a “fielder’s position.” Not only does he play such a pivotal position, but he plays it as well as anyone in baseball. At the very least, he’s been a top 3 second baseman over the past 5 years. You want UZR? His UZR/150 for the past five seasons: 17.1, 10.2, 21.0, 21.4, 7.7. And actually, that last one should be higher, because something is not right with Fangraphs’ formula. It should probably be closer to 9.0. But this is besides the point — the point is that Utley plays 2B better than you probably think. Maybe he should jump and twist and shout more, like Roberto Alomar.
Want more evidence? There’s a little site called fieldingbible.com and it utilizes a stat called plus/minus. An explanation straight from the site:
Video Scouts at BIS review video of every play of every major league game and record detailed information on each play, such as the location of each batted ball, the speed, the type of hit, etc.
A player gets credit (a “plus” number) if he makes a play that at least one other player at his position missed during the season, and he loses credit (a “minus” number) if he misses a play that at least one player made. The size of the credit is directly related to how often players make the play. Each play is looked at individually, and a score is given for each play. Sum up all the plays for each player at his position and you get his total plus/minus for the season. A total plus/minus score near zero means the player is average. A score above zero is above average and a negative score is below average.
Utley’s score from 2006 to 2008? +85
The next highest score at 2B? +58 from Mark Ellis
(More proof of Albert Pujols being awesome — his score was +82)
Baserunning? Utley has stolen 81 bases in his career while being caught only 11 times. That’s an 88% clip. Not to mention he’s a perfect 21 for 21 this season. Jesus Christ, he is good.
And now of course we come to hitting. We all know it’s the name of the game. It’s what makes an everyday baseball player famous 95% of the time. Either you hit a shitload of home runs or you hit for a really high average. That’s how you get into the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, Utley really doesn’t do either. Sure, he averages 30 HR a year, but that’s not an eye-popping amount, especially in this era. And his career average is just below .300 at .298. He can’t be that good a hitter then, right? Wrong. (I apologize for that.)
Utley is a great hitter who every season hovers around a .400 OBP, hits 30 home runs and 40 doubles, drives in 100 runs, and also scores 100 runs. His OBP is helped by his massive amount of HBPs every season (over 20), but he does it without wearing some huge piece of armor on his arm — unlike Craig Biggio, that fucking pussy. The guy is good. He’s not Pujols or A-Rod, but he can hit. Over the past five years, his OPS+ is at 136. By comparison, the lumbering first baseman next to him who is such a “great slugger” is at 141. And that guy plays a shitty 1B.
Anything I missed? Fielding, baserunning, hitting? Check, check, check. Fucking? Maybe Jeter has him beat there. MVP = Most Vaginas Penetrated. That Deadspin comment killed me. Intangibles? Maybe Captain Intangibles still has him beat, but Utley does have a ring now, and he played though a hip injury for half a season. He also never talks shit or complains about anything, it seems. Admittedly, he did say “World FUCKING Champions” in front of a crowd no doubt including children, but I can gloss over that; the Philly-ness has to come out sometime. He just plays the game the right way, and I can appreciate that. I’m not saying he’s GRITTY or SCRAPPY, but he goes out there and plays the game, and plays it as well as anyone. Pujols does the same for the most part, but he likes admiring his home runs a bit too much. Fuck him.
I’m going to wrap this up with Fangraphs’ WAR evaluations. WAR = Wins Above Replacement, which basically tells you how valuable a player is over some regular scrub from AAA. Let’s just go straight to the numbers.
Over the past 5 seasons, these are the totals for the top six players/pitchers in baseball:
Pujols – 40.3
Utley – 37.9
A-Rod – 33.7
Roy Halladay – 30.2
C.C. Sabathia – 30.1
David Wright – 29.7
Yes, I made it six just so I could include Wright. What are you going to do about it? The WAR evaluation is obviously not an exact science — even Fangraphs acknowledges this — but it’s probably a good approximation.
Basically, Pujols and Utley own the rest of the league. Yet Utley has never finished higher than 7th in MVP voting during the same stretch in which two of his undeserving teammates have each won one. (For the record, Howard is at 20.4 WAR and Rollins is at 22.9.) Fuck sportswriters. If Utley continues on a regular career path, he’s a Hall of Famer. Hopefully all the old dudes who can’t get past batting average and RBIs are dead by the time he is eligible.
P.S. I still can’t believe Fangraphs did this article 10 days ago. FUCK.