The Philadelphia Phillies have high hopes for Chase Utley in 2013. Higher than they have been since after the 2010 season, the year after they lost the World Series. The fans realize that any dreams of a World Series Championship (hell, a playoff spot) rest, at least in part, on Chase’s knees.
These elevated hopes to start 2013 are because the he came out with some extra swagger this season. Utley was quoted as saying he felt “pretty damn good right now”, and he must, since Utley is playing in spring training games for the first time since 2010.
After being injured to start the season for the last two years, don’t think there is reason to lower the bar from Utley’s borderline MVP caliber performances from 2005-2009. Despite his injury Chase Utley has projected to finish his dismal 2010-2012 seasons with somewhat decent statistics, if you project them out to a 162 game workload.
2010 |20.5 HR |97 R |84 RBI |17 SB
2011 | 15 HR | 74 R | 60 RBI |19 SB
2012 | 16 HR | 71 R | 67 RBI |16 SB
These numbers are not awe inspiring, but we should remember that Chase was as hurt as he’s ever been the last few seasons, and remember that MLB second baseman are exactly riddled with 25+ HR power.
Doctors say that his condition, Chondromalacia, can be very manageable with the proper conditioning and strength regiment. With the help of some of the best rehabilitative minds money can buy over the course of three years, Chase Utley should have figured out what it takes to get himself into game shape. If he hasn’t Chase may have to start wondering if he has anything left in the tank at 34, after all, his contract is up this year and MLB teams aren’t exactly lining up to sign infielders with chronic knee problems.
I think after all this time Chase Utley has figured out how to play as many games as possible in 2013. If his knees can keep up, look for Utley to perform among the top second baseman in the game once again. He has a short swing that can put baseballs just over the Citizens Bank Park walls.
If Chase Utley can produce |26 HR |90 R | 90 RBI| 20 SB| over the course of a 145-155 games I think the Phillies will resign him for another season or two and the monkey will come off his back. He definitely has the talent to overcome his age for one or two more seasons, especially given his reduced workload the last few seasons.