Opening Day Starter (2003-2008)
2008- Chase Utley
2007- Chase Utley
2006- Chase Utley
2005- Placido Polanco
2004- Placido Polanco
2003- Placido Polanco
Chase Utley was the frontrunner to win the NL MVP award before John Lanaan got a little too excited in his first MLB start and popped him in the hand with a fastball. At the time, he was on pace for a historic season for a second basemen. Just how historic? Well, lets take a look – because that’s what I do in my free time.
Had Utley continued on the pace he was at through 100 games of the season before his injury, and assuming he rested for about 5 games, his numbers would have looked like this: .336 BA, 125 R, 212 H, 65 2B, 5 3B, 27 HR, 130 RBI, 11 SB, .414 OBP, .581 SLG, .995 OPS, 367 Total Bases, 96 Extra-Base Hits.
When you look at single season records for 2nd basemen, the rankings usually consists of about 5-10 straight Rogers Hornsby seasons (more on him later) at the top, so you have to take that into account. Below are Utley’s would-be all-time single season rankings, with the number in parentheses representing his ranking if you only count Hornsby once. (Did that make sense at all?)
2B – 1st (1st, and 2nd all time, first since 1936 with 60 doubles)
RBI – 5th (3rd)
SLG – 11th (4th)
OPS – 12th (5th)
Total Bases – 7th (3rd)
Extra-Base Hits – 2nd (2nd)
Essentially, Utley was on pace for one of the all-time great seasons for a second-basemen, behind only Hornsby and a couple Joe Morgan seasons from the mid-70s. He also might have been able to make a run at the all-time doubles record. Unfortunately, this can only be hypothetical because of that errant pitch that found the back of his hand.
What We Need In ‘08
This is easy, no analysis needed: we just need Utley healthy. He is the best pure hitter on the team, and with the past two NL MVP’s residing in the same line-up, that’s saying something. He has rare bat speed, which means he can make up for timing issues that might put other players in a long slump. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll produce at a high level. I don’t think it would surpise anyone to see him bring home the city’s 3rd straight MVP award in 2008.
Second Basemen of the Future? Well, it’s clearly Utley, but the Phillies best offensive prospect in the minors also plays 2nd base. Adrian Cardenas, 20, has drawn comparisons to Utley because of his great bat. He is a couple years away and may be moved to a different position if he proves he is too good to keep off the field. He is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2008.
NL East 2B Rankings
- Chase Utley, Phillies
- Dan Uggla, Marlins
- Kelly Johnson, Braves
- Luis Castillo, Mets
- Ronnie Belliard, Nationals
Top 3 2B in MLB for ‘08
Top 3 2B 25 or under for ‘08
Best Season for a Phillies Second-Baseman: Utley, 2007 (.332 BA, 22 HR, 103 RBI, 48 2B, .566 SLG %, .976 OPS)
Best Season Ever By a Second-Baseman: Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals, 1922 (.401 BA, 42 HR, 152 RBI, 250 H, 141 Runs, .722 SLG%, .459 OBP, 450 Total Bases)
This was just an obscene season by any measure. You think Utley played well this season? Even with the “would-be” Utley numbers, Hornsby had 22 more RBI, almost EIGHTY-THREE more total bases despite the fact Utley would have been chasing the doubles mark, about 150 points higher on slugging percentage alone, 20 more HR, etc, etc.
Led the NL in 11 categories. 2nd most total bases in a season in the history of baseball. One of 2 players (Chuck Klein) to put up 150 RBI, 250 H and 140 Runs in a season, but Klein didn’t hit over .400 while doing it. As second basemen go, there is Hornsby, and everyone else. His single season ranks for 2nd basemen in the 1922 season are as follows:
– Total Bases – 1st (the closest person not named Hornsby, Alfonso Soriano, is 69 back)
– RBI- 1st
– Extra Base Hits – 1st
– Hits – 1st
– HR – 2nd (Davey Johnson, 1973 hit 43 for the Braves. Bet you didn’t know that)
– SLG % – 2nd (behind himself)
– OPS – 3rd (he holds 8 of the top 9 spots in this category)
– BA – 3rd (he’s also 2nd and 3rd)
– Runs- 6th (His 1929 season, 156 runs, is first)
– OBP – 9th (and 1st-3rd)