Phillies Best Individual Seasons By Number (21 – 30)
Chase Utley’s career has gone down as one of the greatest in Phillies history
26 – Chase Utley (2007)
Number 26 was another easy selection, obviously going to “The Man”. It was just a matter of which of Utley’s seasons from his incredible run from 2005 through 2009. As case could be made for any during the stretch in which he averaged nearly 30 home runs and 100 RBI per season, which made him the best second baseman in the game.
In 2005, Utley became a fulltime starter and as a 26-year old hit .291 with 39 doubles, 28 home runs, and 105 RBI. He was recognized next season for his first of five consecutive All-Star selections and hit .309 with 40 doubles, 32 home runs and a league-best 131 runs scored.
During the Phillies NL East Championship season in 2007, Utley perhaps had the best all-around season of his career. Although his home run total dropped to only 22, Utley hit .332 with 104 runs, 48 doubles, 103 RBI, a .410 on-base percentage, .566 slugging percentage, and .976 OPS.
For those that want to argue the 2008 season was his best, the argument is just as valid. Utley hit .292 with 41 doubles, 33 home runs, 104 RBI, 113 runs, and 14 stolen bases. He also had some key hits and defensive gems in the postseason.
But what about 2009? All Utley did was had another 30-plus home run, 100-plus run season with 23 stolen bases in 23 attempts. Who can forget the World Series in which he tied Reggie Jackson with five home runs in a single series?
Utley’s career was on a Hall of Fame pace before injuries took their toll. He remained relatively productive for years, but clearly not nearly at the same level as before. Utley retired after the 2018 season with 259 home runs, 1103 runs, and 1025 RBI.
27 – Aaron Nola (2018)
Nola was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 22nd round in 2011, but didn’t sign. The Phillies then selected Nola seventh overall in the 2014 draft. It didn’t take long for Nola to make his run through the Minor Leagues, making his Major League debut on July 21, 2015. He showed immediate promise, going 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 13 games for the rest of the season.
In 2016, Nola went 6-9 with a 4.78 ERA in 20 starts, but largely pitched better than those numbers indicated. He allowed only ten home runs in 111 innings with an excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio of 121-to-29. Nola made further steps to becoming a top of the rotation starter in 2017, going 12-11 with a 3.54 ERA, striking out 184 in 168 innings.
The Phillies 2018 rotation was set on paper for Jake Arrieta to be the ace and Nola as the number two. However, it was Nola that showed he was the ace of the staff. In a remarkable season that earned him third-place votes for NL Cy Young Award, Nola went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA He allowed only 149 hits and 58 walks in 212 1/3 innings, striking out 224.
Last season, Nola couldn’t duplicate the 2018 magic, but was still solid at 12-7 with a 3.87 ERA and a career-high 229 strikeouts. As 27 years old, Nola should just be entering the prime, which is an exciting time for Phillies fans.