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Highs and Lows of UZR 2007-9: Utley

As explained in the overview post, here, this is part of a series looking at the best and worst defensive performers over the past three combined seasons. Rankings are done by adding a player’s UZR with his aggregate positional adjustment so as to level the playing field with regards to difficulty. Essentially, it’s removing the grading curve.

Previously covered:
5th, Ryan Zimmerman 43.7 runs above average.
4th, Omar Vizquel 45.8 runs above average.
3rd, J.J. Hardy 48.7 runs above average.
2nd, Franklin Gutierrez 51.4 runs above average.

Tonight, the best player from 2007-9: 2B Chase Utley.

Consistent greatness is Chase Utley‘s calling card. His wOBAs from 2005 through 2009 have all been inside the range of .389 to .420. His UZRs during that stretch vary only from +9.8 to +20.5. In the last five seasons, Chase Utley‘s worst season, 2006, had him as a 6.8 WAR player. His best, 2008, he was an 8.1 WAR player.

For five seasons Chase Utley (38 total wins) has been just a smidgen less valuable than Albert Pujols (40.4 total wins) has been. Thank goodness that he is losing his mind in this World Series because hopefully now he’ll start getting more credit. He’s been close to the best player in baseball over the last half-decade and how many people would have included him in the top ten?

Utley’s 54.8 runs above average came in nearly equal portions each season. His 17.6 runs was 11th best in 2007, his 22.8 runs was the overall best in 2008 and his 14.4 runs was 18th best this past year.

By the way, with the pretty big caveat that the 2009 awards have yet to be announced, I find it worth pointing out that none of the top five players for the period of 2007-9 have won a Gold Glove in that period. Hopefully the 2009 slate rectifies that.