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  1. Utley is simply unreal. Given his glove and position he might be the best player in the game. Any chances for MVP love or does Pujols have it on lock?

    Nice to see Eddie Collins get his due! In his heyday, he was good for 25 2Bs, 4-5 HRs (probably equivalent of what, 10-15 now?) and about 15-16 3Bs. Always walked more than he struck out and stole a ton of bases. “Cocky’!

    Comment by Matt B. — September 8, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  2. To me the worst part about the lack of love for Utley over the past 4-5 years is that two of his teammates won MVPs while it likely should have been Utley taking the hardware.

    Comment by rw23 — September 8, 2009 @ 9:16 am

  3. You’re totally right on this one Erik. Utley has deserved the MVP far more than his teammates have the last few years, but he definitely hasn’t gotten enough love. I think the media sees him as more of the “gritty, hard-working” type of player, without realizing that he’s actually also ridiculous at baseball.

    One final note: “I believe he’s the type of player you’ll one day be telling your grandchildren about one day.” Come on Erik, two “one day” mentions in the same sentence? Your English teacher would not be proud (or whoever else graded your essays back then).

    Comment by Michael — September 8, 2009 @ 9:25 am

  4. Pujols probably wins it unanimously since StL is going to win the Central and there is no studs (other than Carpenter) on that roster. But I loves me some Utley. He doesn’t hit as many HRs as Howard or talk up the media like Rollins – all he does is play the game pretty damn consistenly. Reminds me a lot of Ryne Sandberg. Where does Sandberg rank in the all-time WAR rankings?

    Comment by odbsol — September 8, 2009 @ 9:26 am

  5. Hmm… Utley is the NL version of Mauer? A great player overshadowed by lesser teamates who win the awards he should’ve won?

    Comment by Rob in CT — September 8, 2009 @ 9:26 am

  6. Utley’s a victim of his own environment. Howard’s the flashy HR hitter, Jimmy Rollins gets the glove love and speedster fans. Of course, Utley is probably a better defender than Rollins, runs almost as well, and is better overall at hitting than Howard.

    I’m sure he’s fine with it as long as the Phillies keep on winning, though, it’s not like (most) fans don’t appreciate his abilities already.

    Comment by Joe R — September 8, 2009 @ 9:29 am

  7. I don’t think the comparison to Pujols is that close. Pujols has pretty obviously been hurt by the season to season flaws of UZR.

    Comment by Alireza — September 8, 2009 @ 10:18 am

  8. Even so, Utley plays a far more difficult to field defensive position and is easily among the best players at that position every year.

    And not to get all old-timey baseball writer on anyone, but Utley really does do the “little things” that they love to harp about. The guy slides into second base hard to break up double plays, leads the league in HBP’s, literally intentionally runs into the sight lines of fielders throwing the ball so he can disrupt their vision, and makes pitchers work hard (not Jayson Werth or Youkilis hard, but up there).

    Comment by bill — September 8, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  9. This year Utley also has the lowest UZR of his career. And as R.J. said, if you take a 5 year sample Utley is only 2 wins below Pujols.

    Comment by Davidceisen — September 8, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  10. Please allow myself to introduce…myself.

    I’m Richie Cunningham and this is my wife, Oprah.

    Comment by Steve — September 8, 2009 @ 10:37 am

  11. Eh, they’re 2 of the 3 best players in baseball.

    It’s hard to go wrong with Pujols as the MVP.

    Pujols, Utley, Mauer. Put ‘em in whatever order you want.

    Comment by Steve — September 8, 2009 @ 10:40 am

  12. Ugh. Fail.

    Comment by Erik Manning — September 8, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  13. Couldn’t support more.

    Comment by Ryan Hoffman — September 8, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

  14. What do you know about my father’s where… about… s?

    Comment by scatterbrian — September 8, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  15. If it was Utley vs. Pujols, for the MVP, I’d be fine with Utley winning it (despite the fact that I’m a Cards fan and the whole IBB issue). The problem is that it’s going to be Utley v. Pujols. It’s going to be Pujols vs a bunch of overrated 4 WAR HR hitters, plus Hanley.

    Comment by hazel — September 8, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  16. The HOF is nothing but a popularity contest….

    If it wasnt Alan Trammel would be in already… If he played in NY he would be more revered than Jeter…

    Bill James Historical Atlas ranks him as the 9TH BEST SHORTSTOP OF ALL TIME!

    Yet he only got like 17% of the vote..

    The same crap happens in the MVP votes… IT IS B.S.

    Comment by Jeff — September 8, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

  17. I keep saying on my blog that I think Utley is the kind of player you might have to be on the field with truly to appreciate what he does. The late Harry Kalas nailed it several years ago after Utley did something ridiculously clutch and good. Kalas said as only he could, “Chase Utley, you are the man!”

    Comment by Jacqueline — September 8, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  18. It is surprising how he is underrated since he is a great contributor in fantasy sports which can sometimes boost perceived value. I would guess its a combination of others on the Phillies overshadowing him and the current public level of understanding of defense not being high enough.

    Comment by walkoffblast — September 8, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  19. At least he’s still on the ballot, it’s criminal what happened to Whitaker.

    Comment by Not David — September 8, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

  20. If Derek Jeter had made the play Chase Utley made in the deciding game of the World Series last year (pump fake and throwing out Jason Bartlett at home), well, it would probably at a minimum be part of the nightly SportsCenter intro package.

    And Utley just hit No. 30 while I was typing this.

    Comment by Ken — September 8, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  21. Where did you get the WAR for Robinson/Schoendienst?

    Comment by Matt — September 8, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  22. Even if you ignore defense, he has the highest wOBA among second basemen since Jackie Robinson. If you go by ‘baseball card’ stats, he’s got a solid shot at his 5th straight year with 100 RBIs and 100 runs, while being good for about 30HRs and a ~.300 BA most years too.

    Though, he *probably* would have finished in the top 3 in the MVP vote in 2007 when Rollins won it if he hadn’t missed a month with a broken hand.

    Comment by don — September 8, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

  23. Yeah we need an Utley for Morneau trade to see if we can’t get Jason Kubel some hardware.

    Comment by archilochusColubris — September 8, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  24. I’m biased as a Phillies fan, but I have been arguing for years that he’s the second best player in baseball, although right now Mauer is making a pretty compelling case.

    Comment by Anthony Zazo — September 9, 2009 @ 12:34 am

  25. He IS the 2nd best player in baseball.

    Comment by Felonius_Monk — September 9, 2009 @ 5:05 am

  26. http://www.jacanaent.com/Photos/DemotivPost/Edumacation.jpg

    Comment by Joe R — September 9, 2009 @ 6:35 am

  27. This year he’s even beating J Ro at his own game – 18 for 18 steals for Utley compared to 25 of 33 for Rollins.

    Comment by Phillies Fan — September 9, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  28. You’re totally missing the point of this article. It’s acknowledging Pujols is still the best, just Utley is second best, not 14th as he finished in MVP voting last year. Also, no other studs on that roster? Seriously? How about Holliday and Wainwright? Pineiro, Miller, and Franklin are having great seasons, too.

    Comment by gnomez — September 9, 2009 @ 7:33 am

  29. Same for Freehan.

    Comment by gnomez — September 9, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  30. Bobby Grich, too.

    Comment by Joe R — September 9, 2009 @ 8:00 am

  31. Knowing the Phillies’ player personal luck lately, they’d probably stick Morneau at 2nd base and watch him become a gold glover.

    Comment by Joe R — September 9, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  32. http://www.baseballprojection.com/war/top500.htm

    Comment by Joe R — September 9, 2009 @ 8:22 am

  33. You’re absolutely right. That play doesn’t get nearly the regard it should. It saved the game and the Series. If Jeter did that, there’d be half-hour specials on MLB about it. Not to slight Jeter or anything.

    Comment by Greg — September 9, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  34. I just noticed this last week when getting into a discussion about Chase. Not only does he steal bags, but he does so at such an efficient rate its almost absurd. For his career he steals bags at an 88% clip – and he’s been thrown out exactly twice the last 2 years.

    I’d love to see him steal those 2 more bags he needs for 20/20 – and get hot so that average gets up over .300 by the end of the year. He is putting together what would have to be a historic season for a 2nd baseman when you take into account his defense and his offensive numbers.

    Comment by OD Philly Fan — September 9, 2009 @ 10:59 am

  35. I love Utley, best player on the Phillies, one one the best in MLB.

    But…..isn’t it possible that everyone is over-valuing 2B as a position and how difficult it is to play? Skip Schumaker was a lifetime OF and according to UZR (flaws and all), he’s been an above average defender at 2B since the end of April.

    I know that traditionally, big lumbering guys have been put at 1B, but does that necessarily mean that it is easier to play well? First basemen have to hold on runners, dig throws out of the dirt, have cutoff man and backup responsibilities, have less time to react to a ground ball (and often must make quick adjustments as they are coming off the bag from holding the runner on). Yeah, a 2B man has to turn double plays. He also handles fewer balls/game.

    Assumptions aside, what makes playing 2B so much more difficult than 1B?

    Comment by Steve P. — September 9, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  36. I think Utley was well-positioned to win the MVP in 07 but damned John Lannan broke his hand.

    Comment by M.A. — September 9, 2009 @ 11:29 am

  37. there isnt a day that goes by in the baseball season (and many in the off season) that I don’t remember and regret that the cards took another 2B one slot higher than Utley. I still have a hard time getting past what might have been with chase and albert in the same lineup.

    Comment by mike — September 9, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  38. You can’t really blame Lannan. Utley doesn’t move at all when a pitch comes at him, which is part of what makes him awesome and a HBP machine.

    He made a nice move on the bases last night as well running into the infield and hoping to get beaned by Dunn. It’s pretty sad Rollins got that Dick’s commercial where he was taking beanballs instead of Utley

    Comment by CitizenSnips — September 9, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  39. The media is really asleep on this guy. The funny thing is fans know how great this guy is. He is always one of the top vote getters in the all-star game. He should be top five in the MVP every year.

    Comment by Kevin Herman — September 9, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  40. Wheel plays, covering 2nd, no foul line as a defender, larger area to field (preference is that first baseman cover first on GBs), double play responsibilities, covering the “hole” when runner held on 1B, more throwing chances,

    Comment by PhillyPhantastico — September 9, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  41. ….and?

    The foul line determines how far “right” a 1B plays, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to go left.

    A 1B charges the bunt on a wheel play, jogging to first is a harder job?

    More throwing chances? From….a few feet away. So.

    covering the hole when a runner is held on? Really? Chances are he’s actually cheating toward 2B for a double play. This is a fabricated scenario.

    Covering 2B? As opposed to scooping up over 100 bounced throws/year?

    Still not convinced the given positional adjustments are justified or that UZR or any other statistic adequately quantify the varied responsibilities of a guy at 1B….a position, by the way that MUST be much more difficult than 3B, where a guy fields 2-3 balls/game.

    Comment by Steve P. — September 9, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  42. The 1B is involved in a ton of plays but the very large majority of them are simple. The 1B is involved in more plays than the SS too… would you argue with that adjustment as well? Fewer balls are hit towards first than any other infield position, which is why you hide Adam Dunn there. The 1B almost never has to make a long throw, and only rarely has to throw on the run. The 2B frequently throws on the run. The 2B occasionally has to throw over a guy trying to break up the DP. The 2B covers more popups (though this is usually more of a speed issue than anything).

    Anyway being an above average fielding 2B is clearly more difficult than being an above average fielding 1B because 2B doesn’t have all the big immobile guys like Dunn and Giambi bringing down the curve, so to speak. Unless you think Ryan Howard would still have above average range in the middle infield.

    Comment by don — September 9, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

  43. It’s not just the national media who’s sleeps on Utley yearly, it’s also the local media. It’s kinda sad that a guy as good as he is gets zero attention for being this good.

    He’s one of the few baseball players who can legitimately say makes an impact every single game whether it’s his power, defense, base running, OBP skills, etc.

    Comment by B — September 9, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

  44. Something that has gone slightly unnoticed this year is that Chase has been very successful at stealing bases–including stealing home last night. So far this year he has stolen 21 bases and not been caught. For his career Utley has stolen 81 bases and only been caught 11 times, which is pretty impressive.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — September 17, 2009 @ 10:03 am

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