With as long a layover as you’ll see between games on back-to-back days, thanks to a day game on Thursday and west coast start time on Friday, I thought I’d fill the time with some Chase Utley-related knowledge.
It’s been nearly a month since the second baseman made his return to the diamond and it’s looking more and more that he is just about there (in terms of his health and contribution to the team). The days of him being a perennial MVP candidate might be in the past, but he darn sure can still do a ton of damage with the bat, as evidenced by his .275/.383/.500 line, his three homers, five doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs in 21 games.
That contribution with the ash hasn’t been lost on the rest of the team, as the Phillies are 16-8 (.667 winning percentage) since his return. In that span, they are hitting with a .255/.339/.408 line, with 24 homers, 47 doubles, and six triples and 4.83 runs per game. Prior to his return, the Phillies were 28-18 (.608) and hit with a line of .245/.312/.364 line with 3.82 runs per game. It’s a fairly significant difference, as an extra run per game – with their pitching – is huge.
*For comparison, the National League average, to date, is 4.11 runs per game, with a triple slash line of .251/.320/.386.
What does that mean?
Well, probably nothing. It’s such a small sample size that is almost entirely dependent on other factors (pitching, schedule strength, the other seven bats in the lineup, et cetera), that to extrapolate any meaningful conclusions from it would be an act of futility.
However, it’s fairly obvious that the Phillies are a far more complete team with Chase Utley than without Chase Utley. His replacement, be it Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez, Pete Orr, or one of the writers from a certain Phillies blog that I am associated with, is only so capable of filling in the massive hole that was left when Utley hit the DL. Naturally, a less-than-full-strength Utley is still vastly more valuable than the combined talent of his three replacements.
Does Utley have some magical impact on the rest of the offense? Maybe, maybe not, but when you insert skill set into an offense that has been lacking a singular player with both the ability to hit for power and get on base, you’re most certainly going to have an almost immediate impact felt throughout the lineup.
While the team’s spike in hitting might not continue for the rest of the season, and even though it’s way too early to really determine if Chase is truly “back” or not, that shouldn’t prevent any of us from geeking out over his bat or proclaiming that Utley is quite possibly the greatest thing to happen to Philadelphia since crab fries.