Chase Utley tracking for Hall of Fame induction — hopefully in 2026

The former Phillies great didn't come close to being voted into the Hall of Fame on his first try, but his strong showing bodes well for his future prospects.

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies
Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies / Drew Hallowell/GettyImages
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The votes are in, and the 2024 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame is set to be inducted this July. Chase Utley didn't make the cut this year, nor was he expected to come particularly close to the 75 percent threshold to be voted in on his initial ballot appearance. But he did have a pretty strong first-year showing of 28.8 percent, and this positions him well for the years to come.

A quick glance at Hall of Fame voting history speaks to the recent trend of players making modest first appearances on the ballot and then shooting up the charts over the next several years to ultimately earn induction.

We saw it with Scott Rolen, who garnered just 10.2 percent in his first year of eligibility and was elected in his sixth appearance. This year, Todd Helton (sixth year) followed a similar trajectory to earn his plaque after debuting at just 16.5 percent, while Andruw Jones (61.6 percent in his seventh year) has come a long way from his initial 7.3 percent. Chase Utley made a bigger first-year splash than any of them, so it stands to reason that his path will be accelerated.

Utley is by no means a lock for any kind of future enshrinement, but things look quite promising even though some of the more traditional measuring sticks for the Hall of Fame eluded him during his stellar career. He fell short of 2,000 hits, and he never won an MVP award. He never even finished higher than seventh, at that.

Utley lacked the longevity that used to work against candidates, but what a peak it was. From 2005 through 2009, he was undeniably the best player at his position in all of baseball, collecting Silver Sluggers and All-Star selections while helping lead the Phillies to a pair of World Series appearances and putting together a dazzling postseason highlight reel. Voters remember how players performed on baseball's biggest stage when the pressure was highest, and it will only help his cause.

The future eligibles in the coming years for Hall of Fame voting include a few notable names, but it's not enough of a wave that the pre-existing candidates will be swept away. In 2025, the only slam dunk is Ichiro Suzuki, who will earn a near-unanimous election. After him, you have names like CC Sabathia and Félix Hernández who will also nab a fair share of votes but should not be a real obstacle to players in Utley's situation.

Other eligibles such as Brian McCann and Dustin Pedroia might pose a threat to hitters like Utley, but it's not too concerning. Ultimately, Utley's vote totals should bump up another 15 percent or so in 2025 thanks to some "ballot clearing" in 2024 and the so-so new class on the docket next year.

And then there's 2026, the first year where Utley can realistically make the leap past the threshold for entry into Cooperstown. It's an underwhelming class, and Cole Hamels might legitimately be the most deserving first-year candidate.

Ryan Braun will likely get the same PED treatment that others have, and voters aren't likely to become overly enamored with Matt Kemp, Edwin Encarnación, and the rest. This is Utley's real shot to make a sizable gain and become either part of a very small elected group that year or put himself on the cusp for 2027. Especially if 2024 close calls Jones and Billy Wagner make it in 2025 (and Wagner will be in his last year either way), the field will be wide open for Utley.

Making things even more exciting, the Phillies will be hosting the 2026 MLB All-Star Game, something that you may have forgotten about since it was announced so long ago. How tremendous would it be if Utley were to gain election in 2026, be front and center for All-Star festivities at Citizens Bank Park on July 14 of that year, and then be inducted into the Hall of Fame 12 days later? It would be one of the greatest months in the history of the franchise, and a lifetime highlight for Phillies fans.

Baseball writers aren't going to simply grant Philadelphia such a magical moment, but it's something worth looking forward to and hoping for, an all-time fairy book ending for one of the most beloved athletes in the city's history.

Let's keep pushing Chase toward the top, up over that 75 percent mark. And while it's more likely to take three or four more years and not just two more election cycles, July 2026 would be the greatest of times for "The Man" to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

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