One of the big questions regarding the future of the Philadelphia Phillies is what to do with star second baseman Chase Utley.
When healthy, Utley is one of the best players in the game. In fact, he ranked second in the National League in wins above replacement from 2005 to 2010, trailing only Albert Pujols.
But over the past couple of seasons, Utley has spent just as much time on the disabled list as he has on the field. He missed the first 46 games of the 2011 season due to a case of patellar tendinitis in his knee. The same thing happened again this season, as Utley didn’t get on the field for the first time until June 27th.
He homered in his first at bat and has still collected 1.6 WAR this season, second-most among Phillies hitters.
He is scheduled to become a free agent following the 2013 season and with the arrival of rookie second baseman Freddy Galvis, who played well in Utley’s absence, the Phillies may have reached the end of the Chase Utley era.
According to a report by CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury, Utley was taking ground balls at third base today and says he would be willing to consider a switch to third base in the near future.
Utley has never played the position in the major leagues, not even for an inning. But he play 123 games at third base in Triple-A in 2002, although he recorded 28 errors and posted a very subpar fielding percentage of .918.
Then again, Utley struggled initially at second base, and he’s proven himself to be among the best fielding players in the game. I think he could handle a move to third. I’m not saying he would ever turn into a Gold Glover there, but if he was an average fielder, the Phillies would be happy, especially because it would allow Galvis to play regularly at second base.
Look at current third baseman Placido Polanco. He has the highest fielding percentage in MLB history at both second and third base, proving that a player can definitely succeed at both positons.
The Phillies say they have no official plans to move Utley to third, but it’s common knowledge that they will need a starting third baseman for the 2013 season. Polanco’s bat has really tailed off as of late, and Kevin Frandsen has played extremely well this season, but he is 30 years old and not a hotshot prospect. He’s better suited as a utility player.
Utley to third base? It could be a reality sooner than you think.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.