Entering 2013, Chase Utley is hoping to prove that he can return to his former self. Last season, Utley played just 83 games for the Philadelphia Phillies, the lowest number for him since 2004. Utley has had major injury problems in recent years and will be beginning this season healthy and playing in spring training games for the first time in two years.
Utley being healthy has been one of the top discussions so far this season, and many people are hoping that a healthy Utley will lead to a big year for not only him, but the whole team as well. Utley was one of the most important reasons that the Phillies had such an incredible run from 2007-2012, which included five NL East division titles. From 2005-2010, Utley averaged a .292 batting average, 29 home runs and 101 RBI. Since 2010, Utley has played on average just 100 games, 13 home runs and 51 RBI. The Phillies success when Utley plays and plays well, is completely different than when he doesn’t do either of those.
The big question remains whether or not Utley can produce numbers close to those five years. So far this spring training, Utley has played four games, has a batting average of .333, with one RBI. Those numbers are nothing to get excited about, but it is still very early and just spring training. The biggest issue is that Utley remains healthy, and so far this spring he has.
As long as Utley can stay healthy, we can hope his numbers will be much better than they have been in the last two years. Even though he played just 83 games last year, he had flashes of his old self, which showed he still has some juice left in the tank. No one is expecting a 2007 type year, where Utley was one of the best players in all of baseball, but a resurgence from him can greatly help the Phillies. They need their core infielders to once again be one of the more successful in the league if they hope to return to the playoffs.