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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Baer: What Does the Future Hold for Chase Utley and the Phillies?

Chase: A breathless explosive story of tomorrow!

The Phillies are in an interesting spot with Chase Utley. The 34-year-old is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season and the Phillies are in the midst of what appears to be a transitional phase. The 2014 roster very well could feature new, younger faces at catcher, second base, third base, and at both outfield corners depending on what if anything the Phillies do to finish out this off-season. Yes, for the first time since 2002, the Phillies may feature a roster that does not include Chase Utley. Diamonds aren’t forever.

GM Ruben Amaro must decide if his team will go into a total rebuild or will simply tread water until the roster is permuted to satisfaction. Just as he must choose between Carlos Ruiz and youth at the catching position, Amaro must do so at second base with Chase Utley. Freddy Galvis is the obvious heir to Utley’s throne despite an incredibly weak offensive game. Aside from Galvis, the Phillies don’t have any prospects at second base, meaning that other options would be found via free agency or via trade.

The 2014 free agent class at second base may include such names as Robinson Cano and Ben Zobrist (if his $7 million club option is denied, which seems unlikely at the moment), but the two will be 31 and 33 respectively. It is hard to project which second basemen will be made available via trade as it depends on many factors, including the success of their teams in 2013. Suffice it to say the Phillies will have a very hard time replacing Utley’s production, even the old, broken-down Utley of recent vintage.

The Phillies could sign Utley to a short-term contract extension, covering two or three years, at around $10 million per year. It would be risky since the second baseman hasn’t surpassed 115 games played in a season since 2009. Utley may see his impending free agency as his last chance at a big contract, so he could choose to test the waters, turning over a new leaf with a different team.

At the moment, Utley is one of just 27 players all-time with five seasons of seven or more WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Of the 21 others, only nine others had five consecutive years of seven or more WAR as Utley did from 2005-09. Utley is also third all-time in Phillies history in WAR, trailing Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn. He will likely surpass Ashburn this season with little effort.

Repoz Posted: December 26, 2012 at 08:49 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies, sabermetrics

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   1. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 26, 2012 at 09:21 AM (#4332391)
At the moment, Utley is one of just 27 players all-time with five seasons of seven or more WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Of the 21 others, only nine others had five consecutive years of seven or more WAR as Utley did from 2005-09.

Is this Bizarro math or are my brain cells dead?
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4332426)
Utley had his breakout season - which was his first full season in the majors - in 2005. Baseball Prospectus always liked him but didn't quite predict early on - when he was in the minors - the lofty heights he would achieve.

Quoting now from their writeup before his 2005 breakout season:

Before 2005:
The Phillies are believers in Utley, citing his improved defense at second base and the ungodly number of RBI that he accumulated in the big leagues (57 in 267 at-bats, a rate that exceeded Thome's). We're believers too, though we could care less about the RBI and would like to see Utley refine his pitch selection. Utley is not going to be a star, but second base is a thin position and his extra-base power should provide the Phillies with a competitive advantage. Polanco's unexpected return might seem to cripple Utley's fantasy value, but it's not the disaster that it may seem; Utley should still get the lion's share of at bats against right-handed pitchers, and he's posted a pretty big platoon split in his brief time in the bigs.


Before 2007:
...[Y]ou can safely buckle up and enjoy several seasons` worth of stardom from here on out...


Before 2008:
The reason that Chase Utley is even cooler than you think: in his first major league exposure, 439 plate appearances split over the 2003 and 2004 seasons, he batted .257/.313/.436, drawing just 25 unintentional walks. That's a pace for about 40 walks in a 700-plate appearance season. His minor league rates were a little better, but with a discount applied for the greater difficulties of major league pitching, it was safe to conclude, yes, that's all there is. Almost magically, Utley became more selective, seeing more pitches per plate appearance and upping his walk rate. In 2004 he hit .200 against lefties, in 2005 he hit .219. Again, he got better, hitting over .300 against them in both '06 and '07. This is the rare player who actually grew on the job...


As for the HOF, he's got the HOF peak, but, due to the late start and injuries, doesn't have enough outside of it. And only 1200 games. He's going to need another two or three good years here to get serious consideration, I think. Is an all-time great five-year peak enough? His WAR was 7-7-8-9-8 for that stretch. And outside of that he goes 6-4-3-2. It's an interesting case.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 26, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4332430)
Well, near all-time great five-year peak, anyway. Starting in 1972 Morgan goes 9-9-8-11-10.
   4. Tippecanoe Posted: December 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4332454)
Also exceeding Utley were Lajoie 10,7,8,6,9; Jackie Robinson 9,7,9,8,7; Eddie Collins 99997. Gehringer's bWAR peak is almost equivalent to Utley's, at 78877 (total Utley 38.6, Gehringer 37.3). Carew switches over to first base druing a run of 7,7,8,7,10.
   5. Matt Welch Posted: December 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4332485)
Among the 2Bmen who never had 7 WAR even once, let alone 5 consecutive seasons: Whitaker, Doerr, Kent, Evers, Schoendienst, Mazeroski.
   6. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 26, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4332489)
Joe Morgan (1972-76): 9.3,9.1,8.4,10.8,9.5
   7. Matt Welch Posted: December 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4332571)
Joe Morgan (1972-76): 9.3,9.1,8.4,10.8,9.5

And if you adjust his 1972 to a 162-game schedule, that 9.3 goes to a 9.8!
   8. Tippecanoe Posted: December 26, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4332602)
Hornsby goes 11-10-7-12-10 in his best run, all at 2b.
   9. Tippecanoe Posted: December 26, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4332603)
Hornsby goes 11-10-7-12-10 in his best run, all at 2b.
   10. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4332878)
Utley has always looked smooth in the field, but I never quite bought his otherworldly ratings from the advanced metrics. He averaged 20 DRS per season from '05-'10, and about 16 by UZR. He wasn't even a shortstop in college, and as the BPro writeup hints there were concerns about his defense in the minors. Still a heckuva peak even if you discount the defensive ratings by ~10 runs a season.
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4332884)
kind of a latter day joe gordon in how when he was healthy and playing he was awesome but then he got hurt and then he was done

maybe utley can bounce back. but boy he's fighting a lot of history between injury and second base and body type and the cumulative effect of all those hbp.

i wish him well and that he proves me wrong
   12. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4332889)
by the way, i don't think it's mere chance that a guy who led the league in hit by pitches for 3 straight years is now battling injury issues on a consistent basis

being a brewer fan i have observed this up close with rickie weeks

i don't know what research has been done but i have come to strongly suspect that whatever equipment is used that being hit by pitches has a cumulaitve negative effect on a player.

anything out there?
   13. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4332898)
Until #8 I thought Bill James must have been directing the thread.
   14. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4333028)
back to Utley--I was perusing his BRef page and was reminded of his bizarre batting line in the 09 world series--he was 6-21, with 5 dingers and a double (not a single single)
   15. AndrewJ Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:09 PM (#4333357)
Chase has seven World Series homers already. A couple more would help his HOF chances.
   16. bobm Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:46 AM (#4333455)
[12] i don't know what research has been done but i have come to strongly suspect that whatever equipment is used that being hit by pitches has a cumulaitve negative effect on a player.

Utley and Weeks are in rare company among high-frequency HBP batters. Of the top 10 through 10 seasons, 8 are middle infielders (C, 2B, SS) and 1 is a center fielder. Utley leads the pack in SLG.

From BR PI:

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1961 to 2012, From 1st season to 10th season, (requiring PA<40*HBP and At least 800 games), sorted by greatest Hit By Pitch

                                                                               
Rk            Player HBP   PA    G From   To   Age   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS      Pos
1           Ron Hunt 203 5159 1243 1963 1972 22-31 .271 .363 .352 .714    *4/56
2      Jason Kendall 197 5959 1402 1996 2005 22-31 .302 .382 .407 .789   *2/79D
3        Chase Utley 151 5140 1192 2003 2012 24-33 .288 .376 .500 .876    *4/3D
4     David Eckstein 143 5705 1311 2001 2010 26-35 .280 .345 .355 .701    *64/D
5      Fernando Vina 141 4326 1058 1993 2002 24-33 .286 .352 .382 .735  *4/657D
6       Reed Johnson 119 3631 1116 2003 2012 26-35 .284 .340 .411 .752   *798/D
7       Aaron Rowand 117 4466 1250 2001 2010 23-32 .276 .335 .442 .777   *8/79D
8       Rickie Weeks 108 4015  917 2003 2012 20-29 .251 .350 .429 .779     *4/D
9        Jason LaRue 102 2928  842 1999 2008 25-34 .231 .317 .401 .718 *2/3579D
10   Mike Macfarlane  86 3271  920 1987 1996 23-32 .254 .328 .440 .767     *2/D


Seasons/Careers found: 10.

Note the distribution of batters by HBP frequency; it is quite concentrated.

At PA< 50*HBP and min 800 games:  27 batters including Craig Biggio, Don Baylor and Nick Johnson
At PA< 60*HBP and min 800 games:  51 batters
At PA< 70*HBP and min 800 games:  84 batters
At PA< 80*HBP and min 800 games: 112 batters
At PA< 90*HBP and min 800 games: 159 batters
At PA<100*HBP and min 800 games: 205 batters

At PA>100*HBP and min 800 games: 803 batters


Here is the HBP frequency for the top 10 listed above:

         Player   PA/HBP through first 10 seasons
       Ron Hunt          25    
    Jason LaRue          29    
  Jason Kendall          30    
  Fernando Vina          31     
   Reed Johnson          31 
    Chase Utley          34     
   Rickie Weeks          37     
Mike Macfarlane          38    
   Aaron Rowand          38    
 David Eckstein          40      



Of the 10 listed above, 3 were active as of 2012. Of the remaining 7:
*Eckstein stopped playing after 10 seasons;
*4 played no more than 2 additional seasons before retired;
*The 2 who played 3 or more additional seasons were catchers;
*Jason Kendall's hitting fell off a figurative cliff and Aaron Rowand had run face first into a literal outfield wall; and,
*Only Hunt matched his prior OPS.

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1961 to 2012, For players in the saved report : (Cum, 1961 - 2012, 1st 10th season, (requiring PA<40*HBP and At least 800 games), sorted by greatest Hit By Pitch: Results), From 11th season to last season, sorted by greatest Games Played

                                                                                        
Rk            Player   G From   To   Age   PA   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS    Pos              Tm
1      Jason Kendall 683 2006 2010 32-36 2743 .257 .330 .317 .647  *2/7D OAK-TOT-MIL-KCR
2    Mike Macfarlane 244 1997 1999 33-35  776 .241 .297 .389 .687   *2/D     KCR-TOT-OAK
3           Ron Hunt 240 1973 1974 32-33  999 .285 .395 .320 .715  *4/56         MON-TOT
4       Aaron Rowand 108 2011 2011 33-33  351 .233 .274 .347 .621 /*879D             SFG
5      Fernando Vina  90 2003 2004 34-35  416 .243 .308 .348 .656    /*4         STL-DET
6        Jason LaRue  80 2009 2010 35-36  175 .225 .283 .325 .608   /*23             STL


   17. CONservative governMENt! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:37 AM (#4333473)
Tom Boswell created a stat called 'total average', that was more informative that the traditional triple slash numbers. Does anyone have Utley's total average handy?
   18. The District Attorney Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4333542)
Tom Boswell created a stat called 'total average', that was more informative that the traditional triple slash numbers. Does anyone have Utley's total average handy?
not sure if serious...

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