2. Chase Utley
Has there ever been a player more embraced by the Philadelphia faithful than Phillies’ second basemen Chase Utley? From his first major league hit, a two-out grand slam, all the way to his final at-bat in red pinstripes Utley wasn’t just a fan favorite, he was the stuff of legends in Philly.
Phillies fans can talk on and on about Utley’s heart, his hustle, and his drive to win. The player affectionately dubbed “The Man” by Harry Kalas, only knew one way to play the game and it was at 110%. But there is actually a pretty compelling case for Utley to have his number retired that isn’t just tied to those intangibles that your Dad loves to talk about so much.
Look up the Phillies’ all-time leaderboards and you’ll frequently see Utley’s name towards the top. He’s 10th in walks (625), ninth in games played (1,551) and hits (1,623), sixth in home runs (233) and runs scored (949), and fifth in doubles (346). Utley’s 173 hits by pitches are nearly double that of the next closest player, catcher Mike Lieberthal (88).
Utley also passes the analytics test too. He’s sixth in Win Probability Added (26.4) and currently ranks second in franchise history for position player WAR (62.0) and defensive WAR (17.7) trailing only Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in both.
Chase Utley always found another gear in the postseason
When the games mattered most, Utley generally found a way to kick it into another gear. His seven World Series home runs are the most in history for a second baseman. The five dingers he crushed during the 2009 series tied him with Yankees legend Reggie Jackson for the most homers in a single World Series.
When Sports Illustrated created their All-Decade team for the 2000s, Chase Utley was rightfully their starting second baseman. There’s a pretty strong argument to be made that Utley was the best second baseman of his era and that he should ultimately be rewarded with a plaque in Cooperstown.
The Phillies can only control what they can do though, and what they should do is retire his number 26 as soon as possible.