Chase Utley was once the best second baseman in all of baseball, and he was a top option for fantasy baseball owners as he averaged 29 home runs, 101 RBI and 15 stolen bases per season from 2005-2009 with at least a .282 batting average in all five seasons. But injuries have limited him over the last few seasons, and his 18 home runs and 69 RBI in 2013 are his high-water marks in those categories over the last four seasons.
Utley is arguably the hottest hitter in baseball right now, with a .500 batting average, three home runs, six doubles and 10 RBI over his first 40 at-bats, and he now has multiple hits in four straight games after going 3-for-4 Sunday against the Miami Marlins. Should fantasy owners expect Utley to sustain anything close to his current pace?
Utley is obviously not going to maintain a .500 batting average all season, but he has traditionally been a fast starter during his career. He has a .316 career batting average in March and April, along with a .605 slugging percentage and a 1.005 OPS, and he has a .912 career OPS in the first half. Injuries have obviously been a factor in his inability to sustain that early pace over the last few years, and even if he never spends time on the disabled list this year that is unlikely to change at age 35.
I don’t necessarily recommend looking to trade Utley while he is going as well as he is right now, and there’s a chance he remains productive well into the season as long as he stays healthy. His injury history should not be ignored though, so it’s reasonable for an owner who has a viable backup option and holes elsewhere on a roster to look to deal Utley at the peak of his value.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.