Chase Utley’s recent hot bat has been a much-needed spark for the Dodgers, but has he done enough in his career to make it into the Hall of Fame?
A month ago people thought Chase Utley’s career was over. Age looked like it finally caught up to the Dodgers‘ 38-year-old veteran 2nd baseman as he got off to the worst start of his career.
Utley only went 5 for 41 in April, posting an abysmal stat line of .122/.217/.146. He hit zero home runs and only drove in one run in the month.
Fans started to voice their anger as to why the team was still playing him, but Dave Roberts and the front office stuck with him, and it has paid off. Utley has rejuvenated himself over the last several weeks and has posted an incredible stat line of .365/.461/.651 in his last 22 games. He also provided some good pop hitting three home runs and driving in 14 runs.
Utley has played a vital part of an offense that has been very productive over the last couple weeks. He has done a great job filling in at 2B for Logan Forsythe who has been dealing with some injuries and has struggled, hitting .243 so far this year.
Utley has now raised his average up to .248, which is right below where he finished last year at .252. Even though Utley is well passed his prime, he is still too smart and professional of a player to be struggling the way he was. Expect Utley to provide solid production for the rest of the season and help the Dodgers win plenty of games going forward.
Utley keeps adding to what has already been a great career, but does he have a chance to one day be enshrined in Cooperstown?
When I initially thought about it, my first reaction was no way, but after looking at some of his stats and accomplishments, I started to reconsider. When comparing Utley’s numbers to other HOF second basemen, he stacks up fairly well.
Utley is one of the greatest power-hitting second basemen of all time. He has more career home runs (252) than 13 out of the 20 second basemen who are currently in the Hall of Fame and is only one behind the next person on the list Joe Gordon.
He has four 25 or more home run seasons which is more than 17 out of the 20 second baseman. Additionally, he only needs to drive in eight more runs to reach the 1,000 RBI milestone.
Utley’s career stats match up well with who some people might argue as the greatest second baseman of all time, Joe Morgan. Morgan for his career hit .271 with 268 HR and 1,133 RBI. Utley is at .278 with 252 HR and 992 RBI.
This biggest things going against Utley are stolen bases and defensive accolades which are historically what 2B are most known for.
However, even though his steals and defense don’t quite match up with the all-time greats, he still has some numbers in those areas that help his cause.
Morgan had 689 career SB and most of the HOF second baseman were speedsters that accumulated a ton of steals. Utley was never the fastest guy, but he is great base runner stealing 148 bases while having only been caught 21 times in his career. This equates to an exceptional 88 percent success rate.
He has never won a Gold Glove but has been a very solid defender throughout his career. He led the league in defensive WAR in 2008 and had five other seasons where he finished in the top 10, according to Baseball Reference.
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Outside of his stats, Utley has been a six-time All-Star, four-time silver slugger, and won a championship in 2008 with the Phillies.
From 2006 to 2009 Utley was arguably the best second baseman in all of the league. In his prime, he not only was one of the best 2B in the game, but he was also one of the best players in the sport. The only thing that slowed him down was injuries.
He was well on his way to becoming a first ballot HOFer when he started dealing with injuries in 2010. At the time he was still in his prime at 31-years-old.
He managed to play only 301 out of 486 games over the next three seasons and by the time he was healthy enough to play a full season again he was 35-years-old.
As of right now, I believe Utley is on the outside looking in, but he is right on the door knocking to get into Cooperstown.
If he becomes a valuable contributor on another championship team or maybe gets to 2,000 hits (he has 1,805 right now) I think it will propel him to Hall of Fame status.