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Chase Utley

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Chase Cameron Utley

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[edit] Biographical Information

Chase Utley is a second baseman with the Philadelphia Phillies. When fully healthy, he hits for power, has good range defensively, has speed, and his average has climbed steadily since he broke in in 2003.

At UCLA, his batting average was .342 with 174 RBI in 177 career games. In his junior year, he hit .382 with 22 HR and 69 RBI in 64 games.

Drafted in the second round of the 1997 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school, he chose instead to play college ball and was later drafted in the first round in 2000 by the Phillies. He played in their minor league organization from 2000 to 2004. A peak was in 2003 for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons of the AAA International League, where he hit .323/.390/.517. He also played 33 games there in 2004.

His first Major League hit was a grand slam off Colorado Rockies' pitcher Aaron Cook at Veterans Stadium. This happened during his first call up to the majors in 2003; he played 43 games for the Phils that first season, hitting .239 with 2 home runs, and he was sent back down to AAA to start the 2004 season. He hit .266 with 13 home runs in 94 games in the big leagues after being called up for good. He showed his first signs of stardom in 2005 when he was a starter for the entire season and belted 30 doubles and 28 homers while hitting .291 in 147 games.

Utley at bat

In 2006, he improved on that already high standard, batting .309 with 40 doubles and 32 home runs. He also put together a 32-game hitting streak and was named to the All-Star team for the first time, while picking up the Silver Slugger Award as the National League's best-hitting second baseman. In 2006, Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins were the first National League double play combination to hit at least 25 home runs each.

In 2007, Utley was batting .336/.414/.581 and leading the National League in doubles, was second in runs and total bases and fifth in OPS when he broke his right hand on July 26 after being hit by a John Lannan pitch. To deal with his absence, Philadelphia traded for Tadahito Iguchi. Utley came back later in the year but played only 132 games, and was not at his best in the postseason, going 2 for 11 with no extra base hits as the Phillies were swept in three games in the NLDS by the Colorado Rockies.

On April 8, 2008, Utley tied the major league record by being hit by pitches three times a game. He was plunked twice by Oliver Perez and once by Scott Schoeneweis on his way to leading the league for the second consecutive year with 28 hit by pitch. He was healthy all season, playing in 159 games as the Phillies won the NL East title for the second consecutive year. While teammate Ryan Howard outpolled him in the NL MVP vote, he was probably the team's best all-around player, and arguably the second-best player in the NL after St. Louis' Albert Pujols: his batting line was .292/.380/.535, with 41 doubles and a career-high 33 home runs, while he scored and drove in over 100 runs. He was at his best in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting .353 with 2 doubles, a home run, 4 runs and 3 RBI in his team's 5-game win. In the World Series, he only picked up 3 hits in 18 at-bats, but two of them were home runs and he contributed to the Phillies' win over the Tampa Bay Rays with 5 runs, 4 RBI, 5 walks and 3 stolen bases. His two-run home run off Scott Kazmir in the first inning of Game 1 set the tone for the Phillies; he then made a fabulous defensive play in the 7th inning of the clinching Game 5, gunning down Jason Bartlett, who represented the winning run, at home plate after faking a throw to first. The Phillies scored the Series-winning run in the bottom of the inning.

Utley had another good season for the Phillies in 2009, batting .282 with 31 homers 93 RBI and 112 runs scored in 156 games. He led the National league in being hit by pitch for the third consecutive year, and played in his fourth straight All-Star Game and again won a Silver Slugger Award at second base. He was at his best in the World Series against the New York Yankees, as he blasted five home runs in 21 at-bats - including three homers and a double off Yankees ace CC Sabathia. However, the Phillies failed to repeat as World Champions, bowing in six games to the Bronx Bombers. He continued to be one of baseball's top players in 2010, although he was limited to 115 games by injuries. He hit .275/.387/.445 when he did play, blasting 20 doubles and 16 homers and driving in 65 runs. He once again played in the All-Star Game, but the time he missed cost him when the time came to vote for the various postseason award winners. The Phillies won their 4th sright NL East title that year, He went 3 for 11 with a homer and 4 RBI as the Phils swept the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS, but like most of his teammates, his bat was stymied by the San Francisco Giants' strong pitching in the NLCS, when he hit only .182 with a single RBI.

Utley missed the beginning of the 2011 season with a knee injury; Wilson Valdez filled in for him during his absence. He came back to the line-up on May 23rd, going 0 for 5 against the Reds. He ended up playing just 103 games, with a career-low batting average of .259, although he did hit 21 doubles, 6 triples and 11 homers, and his OPS+ was still a very solid 109. In spite of his limited contribution, the Phillies had one of the best seasons in team history, but were upset by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. It was not Utley's fault, though, as he hit .438 in the series, with a pair of doubles and a triple, and scored 5 runs in the 5 games. He was bothered by injuries again at the start of 2012, missing all of spring training with chronic tendinitis in his knees. With presumptive back-up Michael Martinez out with a broken foot, the Phillies were down to minor league veteran Freddy Galvis as the only in-house option to start the season at second base. Utley was finally cleared to begin rehabilitation in the Florida State League on June 4th, and returned to the majors on June 27th. By then the Phillies were quite desperate, as Galvis had just been handed a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. In his first at-bat of the season, Utley homered off James McDonald of the Pittsburgh Pirates; however, the Phillies still lost the game, 11-7.

Chase Utley has picked up many awards in his short time in professional baseball. In high school, he was a second team All American infielder. In 1999 in college, he was a Pac-10 Conference All-Star, and in 2000 he was again a Pac-10 conference All-Star as well as a first team All-American. In 2003, he was the Baseball America Second Team Minor League All-Star at second base. In 2005, he was the Phillies Player of the Year. He has also picked up four Silver Slugger Awards and has been selected five times to play in the All-Star Game.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 6-time NL All-Star (2006-2010 & 2014)
  • 4-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2006-2009)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (2006)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2005-2009)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2006, 2008 & 2009)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (2005-2008)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2006-2009)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2006)
  • Won a World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008.

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