Chase Utley batted second in today’s spring training game for the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s something he has done in the past for the club, but after a year in which he batted exclusively at the three spot in the order, it may come as a bit of a surprise. So is it possible that Utley could bat second more often in 2013?
It’s something Charlie Manuel will have to consider, but it will depend on whether or not Michael Young can be a productive bat in the Phillies’ lineup. Utley has started 176 games in the second position in the lineup in his career with 71 of those coming in 2006. While the much-discussed swap of Utley from second base to third base last season drew plenty of talk, the more reasonable switch to talk about in Utley’s future could be the one in the batting order.
Utley has produced when batting second, hitting .315/.390/.528 for his career in that spot. When he saw so much time in the spot in 2006, he had Bobby Abreu hitting behind him most of the time, giving the Phillies two guys at the top of the order in Utley and Abreu who had the capability of seeing a lot of pitches and working the count. The reasoning for moving Utley to the second position this time around would probably be played out more as splitting up the lefties from the righties, with Young potentially hitting third and Ryan Howard fourth.
One thing is for sure: the Phillies have plenty of flexibility when creating a lineup this year. Ben Revere, who brings plenty of speed to the lineup, could also bat second with Utley third, Howard fourth, and Young fifth. Young also has the chance to bat second. Either way, the Phillies would love to just focus on making sure Utley is healthy first, but batting second could be a boon for both the Phillies and Utley in 2013.