1) Chase Utley is not going to be the savior of the team and
2) I couldn’t be any more excited about his return.
We cannot, nor should not, expect Chase Utley of 2009 or 2010. We should expect something like last year. Last year was a down year for Utley with a .259 BA. Though in the playoffs, he did hit around .400.
However, he did give the Phillies 4 Wins Above Replacement, which was 3rd for all second basemen. The Phillies won 102 games last year, imagine what they would have done if he was healthy all year long.
Yes, Chase Utley will be an defensive upgrade at second versus Mike Fontenot and Michael Martinez. And yes, even if he produces he worse offensive season yet, he will be an offensive upgrade.
But that is not what will be his greatest strength and contribution to this team. Utley’s main contribution will come with his presence and leadership in the clubhouse.
Many people look at the Phillies and label Jimmy Rollins as the leader, and he might be with his mouth. But Chase is with his work ethic and his intensity.
Behind close doors, Chase is the one that does not let his teammates get away with anything. He’s the one that stresses the importance of playing the game hard, the right way and with determination at every turn.
Back in May, Utley spent most of the month with the Phillies. During that time, they played their best ball all year. When he went down to Clearwater to rehab, the Phillies went back to playing painfully.
Utley has a lot to prove. Many believe that he is over the hill and to injured to play any meaningful ball. Many believe that the Phillies are done for the year and should just throw in the towel.
Utley believes neither and is determined to prove naysayers wrong.
I will be interested to see what impact Utley has on the field, but his true impact to the team, fans may never know. His true impact will occur behind closed doors.
Karilee Jeantet is Lead Contributor for A View From Section 116. Follow her on Twitter @kjeantet and @viewfromsec116 and e-mail her AViewFromSection116@gmail.com.