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Hall of Merit
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Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Chase Utley

Eligible 2024

DL from MN Posted: January 04, 2023 at 08:42 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. cookiedabookie Posted: January 05, 2023 at 11:41 AM (#6111974)
Easy yes for me - #172 all time, #15 at 2B.
   2. bachslunch Posted: January 05, 2023 at 12:42 PM (#6111989)
He’ll probably be third on my ballot behind Beltre and Mauer.
   3. DL from MN Posted: January 05, 2023 at 12:51 PM (#6111996)
Ranks right next to Ryne Sandberg in my spreadsheet.
   4. Jaack Posted: January 05, 2023 at 01:38 PM (#6112007)
Lots of strong 2B coming on the ballot soon - Utley looks to be the best of the bunch. Biggest and longest peak of the group. For a few years there, he was as about a complete player as I've ever seen - traditional 5 tools and all, plus being good at all the little stuff as well.
   5. Michael J. Binkley's anxiety closet Posted: January 05, 2023 at 02:25 PM (#6112016)
Utley will likely be #2 on my ballot. I have him as my #13 all-time 2b.

If not for Albert Pujols, he'd have an MMP (2008) and another NL MMP (2009) at worst for me.
   6. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: January 08, 2023 at 10:20 PM (#6112492)
He really was a late bloomer, he was 26 before he had his first really good season. Great player, just seemed to kill the Mets when he was with the Phillies.
   7. Chris Cobb Posted: January 08, 2023 at 11:08 PM (#6112496)
On the subject of Utley as a late bloomer, a couple of years ago, when I was trying to track down any early work on minor-league credit for Gavvy Cravath, I ran across the following comment from an early HoM thread that references Utley before he made it to the Majors. I thought it was such an interesting combination of prescience and skepticism about Utley that I copied it and saved it, promising myself that I would remember to post it on Utley's HoM thread when he became eligible. The comment about Utley as a late bloomer jogged my memory, so here is Phillybooster's prediction of Utley's HoM-worthy career from 2004. I've bolded the relevant passage but pasted the whole comment for the record:

16. PhillyBooster Posted: November 08, 2004 at 09:02 PM (#958294)
The NBJHA strongly implies that Faber was unfairly stuck in the minors until age 25 despite very good credentials. Any insight as to whether we ought to give him a little more career-value credit?

On the one hand, evidence of "unfairly stuck" should not be ignored. Especially if the evidence is extensive (I am a big fan of Gavvy Cravath based largely on his 9 years of AA/PCL stats), or if there is evidence of actual discrimination (I will be a big fan of Dolf Luque, who played for Negro League teams while trying to break into the majors).

On the other hand, there is something to be said for availability heuristics. Assumedly, most players had some minor league time before or after (or during) their careers. And a lot of the judgments is Monday Morning Quarterbacking.

Chase Utley is the Phillies' "second baseman of the future". Was Chase Utley, the Phil's "second baseman of the future" was unfairly stuck when he spent all of 2002 in AAA Scranton, performed well, and in 2003 was sent back, and he had an OPS of over 900? Should he be given credit (when his HoM case is examined in 20 years) for that time? If he had turned around and posted a 900-1000 OPS in 2004, his case for being "unfairly excluded" gains steam. As of now, it doesn't look like such a bad idea.


Phillybooster should get some serious props for accurately, if ironically, predicting Chase Utley’s HoM-worthy career and pretty much nailing the year in which we would consider his HoM case (by calendar reckoning he is one year off, having said in November 2004 that his case would be considered in twenty years, but we are considering Utley for the 2024 HoM election), and he raises the interesting question of whether Utley deserves credit for any of his extended stay in the minor leagues. I am curious what people think about his record in that respect, but, to Utley's credit, it's a question that has no bearing on the strength of his candidacy.

Someone with better site skills than I have could add a direct link to the comment, I suppose.

So, is anyone planning to give Utley any minor-league credit for his big AAA season in Scranton in 2003?
   8. Jaack Posted: January 09, 2023 at 11:41 AM (#6112535)
Truly an incredible prediction from PhillyBooster.

I don't credit Utley for his minor league play in 2003 - I don't doubt he probably could have been a major league level player that entire year, perhaps even an above average one. But his usage does make sense. He had a good not great year in AAA in 2002, slumped in the majors in April 2003, crushed the minors through the summer, and then came up for August/September. That seems normal enough. Perhaps if the Phillies don't have an above average starter in Placido Polanco, Utley gets a longer leash at the begining of the season, but it's not exactly a classic case being of being blocked.

Luckily he's well beyond the point of needing that kind of help.
   9. Banta Posted: January 09, 2023 at 12:29 PM (#6112543)
As interesting as it may be to contemplate, it seems like any minor league credit would only matter if someone had Utley essentially tied with another player before adding it.
   10. DL from MN Posted: January 09, 2023 at 01:32 PM (#6112550)
I don't do any minor league credit the first season of balloting. Past year one I'll do more detailed analysis.
   11. Chris Cobb Posted: January 09, 2023 at 01:54 PM (#6112557)
Per Banta's point, players who get elected to the Hall of Merit on the first ballot are indeed seldom essentially tied with another player who appears on that ballot.

However, when we start to look at things like positional rankings for all members of the Hall of Merit, we suddenly find ourselves having to make tough calls between two players widely separated in time who were both easily elected to the Hall of Merit when they first became eligible. In a case like that, a year of credit for minor league play that never mattered before might suddenly become relevant.

I made the post about possible minor league credit mostly because I thought Phillybooster's comment from 2004 about when Utley's Hall of Merit case would be considered in twenty years was such an amazing predictive anecdote, but as the HoM embarks on a new round of positional rankings, I thought it might be useful to signpost the minor-league credit question. It won't matter at all for Utley's election and won't matter significantly for his ballot position in 2024. Would it matter in a comparison between Utley and, say, Joe Gordon or Bobby Grich? There it could conceivably matter, I think.

I am inclined to agree with Jaack that Utley isn't a "classic case" of being blocked--I have given almost no such credit for any post-1960 players--but I think it's worth discussing what the criteria should be in any case where it might be considered.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: January 09, 2023 at 02:07 PM (#6112561)
Great player, just seemed to kill the Mets when he was with the Phillies.


And then, when he was with the Dodgers, he tried to do it literally.

   13. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 09, 2023 at 02:17 PM (#6112565)
He had a good not great year in AAA in 2002, slumped in the majors in April 2003, crushed the minors through the summer, and then came up for August/September. That seems normal enough. Perhaps if the Phillies don't have an above average starter in Placido Polanco, Utley gets a longer leash at the begining of the season, but it's not exactly a classic case being of being blocked.

Utley didn't really play until late April of 2003. Polanco came over to the Phillies at the 2002 trade deadline, and played 3B exclusively for the rest of the year (he had been traded for Rolen). The Phillies then somewhat surprisingly signed Dave Bell over the winter and moved Polanco over to 2B as the opening day starter. This was right before the team moved into CBP and the Phillies wanted to make a big splash -- they also signed Jim Thome.

Utley started his first game on April 24 while Polanco was hurt. Utley didn't hit much in his 4 starts but had a double and a HR in one of the games. With Polanco coming back the Phillies thought it'd be best for Utley to play every day, even if he was repeating a level. When Bell's back started acting up in the second half, a door was opened for Utley to come back and Polanco slid back over to 3B.

With Polanco and Utley in the fold the Phillies didn't really need to sign Bell. Utley might have lost a full season's worth of starts between 2003 and 2004. He had only 137 games and 439 PAs in those two seasons. I'm not a HoM voter and not sure whether this should matter, but thought it was interesting background.
   14. Jaack Posted: January 09, 2023 at 03:22 PM (#6112573)
I am inclined to agree with Jaack that Utley isn't a "classic case" of being blocked--I have given almost no such credit for any post-1960 players--but I think it's worth discussing what the criteria should be in any case where it might be considered.


I think this is a great subject!

Looking at older HoM discussions - there is a general sense that a player shouldn't get credit for a breakout minor league season since everyone typically has one and it takes a minute to get noticed. I think this is a good concept, but limited. Perhaps instead the framework should be 'how much value does the average player have locked up in the minors' as opposed to who long of a stay a player has there.

Just to make up a number, let's say the average MLB value produced in the minors is 1 WAR. Anything above that would be worthy of credit. So if you think Utley produced 2 WAR in the minors, he gets credit for one of those.

This method also might help a guy like Buster Posey who didn't spend long in the minors, but had some star level performance there prior to sticking in the Majors.
   15. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 10, 2023 at 07:23 PM (#6112764)
Utley was so good in the minors at an age most MLB quality players are regulars, I give him at least tiebreaker credit. He is comfortably below Beltre but ahead of Mauer for the ballot. However, I find Biggio, Sandberg, Cano, and Utley to all be close to one another, it could push him ahead a place or two. The drop off is stark after this group, and I have Frisch and Whitaker as a notch ahead.

   16. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 17, 2023 at 06:17 PM (#6113515)
FWIW, Utley's Davenport translation for 2003 Scranton: .290/.354/.466

Not that full credit should be given on the basis of Davenport translations. But I think it's pretty clear that he was MLB ready based on MiLB performance, his actual 2003 MLB stats notwithstanding.

   17. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 17, 2023 at 07:44 PM (#6113527)
FWIW, Utley's Davenport translation for 2003 Scranton: .290/.354/.466

Not that full credit should be given on the basis of Davenport translations. But I think it's pretty clear that he was MLB ready based on MiLB performance, his actual 2003 MLB stats notwithstanding.


MLB ready, sure, but nowhere near his eventual peak. That's in the neighborhood of 3-4 WAR over a full season, maybe call it 2-3 since you have to count his MLB performance in there. I would agree with the above statements that this is at most a tiebreaker in his favor (which isn't nothing).

Ironically enough, the hitter closest to Utley's projection among NL infielders in 2003 is probably... Placido Polanco, the Phillies' actual second baseman (.289/.352/.447). Of course, both of them are vastly superior to David Bell.

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