Last night, Chase Utley was announced as the pinch hitter, and did the unthinkable: hit a game-tying home run off Bronson Arroyo.
It wasn’t completely. Arroyo has given up plenty of home runs before. But in the frame of this particular outing, hits seemed challenging enough, let alone runs. Not for Chase Utley, whose picking up where he left off in 2009, before the dark times. Before the Empire.
“Every day I feel good. Which is a positive sign.”
“I think Utley has another 3 or 4 solid, big years.”
Hitting .292/.340/.604, with three home runs and 12 RBI. That’s far closer to his 2003-09 days (.295/.379/.523) than the crippling 2010-12 numbers (.264/.367/.433) in which he was playing fractions of seasons on borrowed knees. It may not be what he is all year, but through statistical performance alone, it’s a far more nostalgic, far more familiar Chase Utley.
And it’s all anybody wants to talk about.*
*When you Google him.
In offensive categories across the league, he’s lurking quietly at eighth or tenth among eligible players, in territory far more sustainable than John Buck’s clearly roid-fueled early season rampage. Also, did you know Dexter Fowler has six home runs already? WTF?
Of course, he’s not hitting well against lefties, but nobody is, so that can just be some horrible thing that the Phillies all do together. Seriously, listen to this shit:
“The Phillies are worst in the majors with a .384 OPS vs. lefties. They are hitting .136 with a .186 on-base percentage and .198 slugging percentage. For reference, that is just slightly better than what all major-league pitchers did as hitters (.129/.162/.166) in 2012.”
WOW that’s terrible.
No matter, as Chase seems to have cast aside concern about his health, legging out two triples already and showing few signs of struggling defensively (with his knees) (still bobbling grounders occasionally) (but who doesn’t). Why, he almost ran no-holds-barred into collision with Ryan Howard while tracking a foul ball that they both somehow dropped last week.
People don’t do that unless they’re knees are okay. Or if they are so driven by badassdude-itude that they put health issues/not running into Ryan Howard in the back of their heads to make room for all the extreme running.
The issue, of course, is everyone else.
He’s got an OPS 50 points lower than John Mayberry, whose has half has many at-bats. Less, even. With those same numbers, Chase’s WAR currently sits at 0.6, with the second closest being Mayberry at 0.3, and everybody else just struggling to stay out of the negatives (Ryan Howard and Erik Kratz not succeeding at this). Beyond that, Chase is miles ahead of everybody else – yes, his spot in the order allows him to come up with more runners on base and allows for a greater number of RBI, but there are other people (Howard, Young) who are in similar positions and nowhere near as productive (though this may be because by the time they come up, Chase has knocked in all of the runners).
While all of this crappiness happens around him, Chase plunges into the terror, much like 2012 Chooch. The difference is, Chooch’s outburst came after years of lowly offensive work, whereas Chase is reminding us all what it’s like to be young again (as we live through him vicariously, you see) and inspiring us to write rambling, incoherent blog posts.
It’s a childish sense of blind, nostalgic pride we have in Chase, and he is tearing pages out of the past to give us one of the only quality starts to the season we have.