After two long and arduous seasons in which the Philadelphia Phillies really did not know what they still had in All-Star second baseman Chase Utley, 2013 has come as a revelation.
Having missed significant parts of the last two seasons with a degenerative knee condition, Utley took a huge step forward in the sole fact that he actually participated in the 2013 spring training. For Utley, this seemingly small accomplishment was a sign of something greater. It marked that Utley was entering the 2013 season with his health and with a chance to reclaim some of the past glory he enjoyed.
Utley’s spring stats weren’t anything spectacular, but just the fact that they were there meant something. Having not played in a spring game since the 2010 season, the fact that Utley played in 24 of the Phillies’ spring games in 2013 was significant. In those games, Utley recorded 19 hits and 17 RBI. He hit five home runs, which was the second highest of the team, and walked nine times.
Off of those stats, Utley entered the regular season prepared and ready to go. In his first game, Utley led the team with eight total bases. He scored two runs, had three RBI and fell just a double short of hitting for the cycle.
Utley continued his hot start with seven hits and six RBI in the Phillies’ first four games.
Now, there was a period when Utley struggled a bit, but he quickly regained his stride.
To this point, Utley leads the Phillies with his six home runs and 21 RBI. His average has dipped below .300, but he has still recorded nine walks and has scored 16 runs. Plus, and maybe in an attempt to show his knees are working just fine, Utley has successfully stolen four bases in five attempts.
Ultimately, Utley’s great start to 2013 could earn him a chance to play in the All-Star game. In the final year of his contract, however, it is more likely going to earn him a ticket out of town to a team that unlike the Phillies, is competing for a spot in the playoffs.
Utley has shown that he still has value and that he could be an asset to a team down the stretch. Plus, he is in the last year of his contract and the Phillies might not be looking to resign him anyway. With how he has been playing this season, however, Utley has trade value and the best bet could be to move him while his stock is still reasonably high.