Dodgers: Chase Utley’s 2017 Season Grade
By Hector Ponce
The Dodgers had an amazing run during the 2017 season. Some players had breakout years while others continued their dominance. Chase Utley may not have had a great season on the field, but his impact off the field was evident.
The Silver Fox had a down year as father time finally got the best of the wily veteran. His bat speed was down, and it was visible. He was not able to get his barrel on a fastball inside. This gave the opposition more options to getting him out.
Utley hit .236 on the year with eight long balls during the 127 games he appeared in. He also played good defense at second and during his short time at first base. He saw most of his playing time during the injuries to Logan Forsythe and Justin Turner. Other than that he would get a spot start here and there but he was good enough to help the Dodgers win during this time
Utley’s age was even more evident in the playoffs as he failed to notch a single hit during his 15 at-bats. But even during this time, he was doing anything he could to reach base. Taking walks and getting hit by pitches. He was and always has been a team guy.
If we are honest, the Dodgers did not bring him back to be the productive player that he had been during his time with the Phillies. They brought him back in for his veteran leadership. The impact of his presence and leadership on the team was a key part of how the Dodgers played this season. All of the players had a little bit of that fire Chase is known for playing with.
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The team ground out every single at-bat. But the most impressive part was seeing the team’s baserunning this season. Turning singles into doubles and taking the extra base to get their team into a better position to win ball games.
That is the key part of it all; getting the team into position to win a ball game. That self-less play of the team is a direct reflection of Chase Utley. He did whatever it took to win. Whether it was taking an extra base or getting hit by a pitch, Utley was the man you could count on to do it. Never giving up always giving a hard 90 even on the most routine of plays.
A game that exemplified what he meant to this team was the day of the Kyle Farmer walk-off. The Dodgers were down by one run entering the ninth. Utley was leading off the inning. He managed to reach on what looked like a routine ground ball because of that hustle he plays with every at-bat. He then proceeded that with a steal of second base getting himself into scoring position and eventually going second to home on a base hit by Yasiel Puig.
Later in the game; Kyle Farmer got himself his first big league hit, and it was a big one as he won the game with a walk-off double scoring JT. Utley was one of the first players on the field to greet Farmer by ripping his jersey up. Many see that game as a turning point in the season, and that would have never happened without the AB by the ultimate professional Chase Utley.
That is also another thing that I’d like to point out. His blue-collar approach to the game has rubbed off on nearly everyone on the team. In particular Chris Taylor and Corey Seager. They both play the game like they are the second coming of Chase Utley. Rarely showing any emotion and just coming up and performing as expected.
Anybody can see the amount of respect that Utley has in that clubhouse. It seemed like Somehow he always managed to get mentioned by name during a post-game interview, even he did not play that day. Utley had the respect of his teammates and his manager alike. Dave Roberts has even said that Utley is his favorite baseball player because of the way he plays the game.
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2017 may have been the ending to a brilliant career put together by “The Man” Chase Utley. His production on the field hit a lull this season because of his age. Despite this, he was still able to help this team by giving advice and mentoring the younger guys. He led by example and played hard every single time he got the opportunity. Chase Utley is a baseball guy and the type of player any team would be happy to have on their team.