Injuries have riddled Chase Utley’s career, but that doesn’t mean the greatest second baseman in Phillies history will be left out of Cooperstown
Already a Hall of Famer in the hearts of Phillies fans, Chase Utley is putting as much into the remainder of his career while his legs are still underneath him. After 1,551 games in Phillies uniform, Utley has remained active for the Dodgers.
Playing in his 72nd game of the season Utley notched his 1,000th RBI, making him the 20th second baseman in history to reach the mark.
If not for chronic knee injuries through the latter portion of his career, Utley was well on his way to being a first ballot Hall of Famer. He’s been robbed of Gold Gloves and MVPs during his 15 years, but the stats speak for themselves.
In the 140+ years man has played organized baseball only seven second basemen have hit 250 home runs, knocked in 1,000 RBIs, and racked up 1,800 hits. Those men would be Jeff Kent, Roger Hornsby, Robinson Cano, Craig Biggio, Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, and Chase Utley. Four of those men are in Cooperstown, Kent is in the early years of eligibility, while Utley and Cano remain active.
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Utley’s five-tool capabilities will also help his case if he can steal two more bases to have 150 swipes in his career, a likely accomplishment barring injury.
Only Biggio, Sandberg, and Morgan have hit 250 home runs and stolen 150 bases or more. That puts Utley in even greater territory as his career reaches its tail end.
Due to turn 39-years-old this offseason Utley’s immediate future remains unknown. His hometown Los Angeles Dodgers nearly passed on re-signing the veteran, but after losing several players to trades and injuries decided to keep Utley in the fold.
It may take a move to the American League for Utley to remain on the field, but his glove is still adequate enough to play on an everyday basis. It all depends on the knees for Utley, whose competitive fire and love for the game may never die.
If Utley can manage to play in parts of two more years his numbers and chances of receiving the necessary votes for Cooperstown will increase. Reaching 2,000 hits is still on the table for Utley, who currently sits at 1,820. It’s not a guarantee, but 2,000 hits for a player that has never played 160 games in a season is impressive.
It will take health and opportunities for Utley, but even his career was to end this season the case for Cooperstown is strong enough to push him into baseball immortality.