Dodgers: Making the case for Chase Utley in the Hall of Fame

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 09: Chase Utley (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 09: Chase Utley (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

While his prime years came with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chase Utley has given the Los Angeles Dodgers a much needed veteran presence. With his career entering its last few chapters, has Utley done enough to enter Cooperstown?

Chase Utley is a Philadelphia Phillie, whether fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers want to admit it or not. The hometown veteran definitely has his place in the Dodgers history books, but he will ultimately go down as the best second baseman to play for the Phillies. However, is that enough to merit his inclusion in Cooperstown?

Utley is hands down one of the most iconic second basemen of this generation. Since his debut in 2003, Utley leads all second baseman in Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement as well as playing the 15th most games in that span (1817).

Utley has quietly become the perfect model of consistency. While he never had over the top power, antics or a big profile at all, Utley has continued to play and play at a very high level. While injuries have cut some seasons shorter than they could have been, Utley finished top 15 in MVP voting five consecutive years from 2005 to 2009.

One could even argue that the four-time Silver Slugger and six-time All-Star should have finished much higher. In 2006, Utley’s best year, he finished just seventh in MVP voting. Utley hit .309 with 32 home runs, 102 RBIs and 131 runs scored. Utley finished fourth in the league in WAR that season, third in the NL behind Albert Pujols and Carlos Beltran.

If it wasn’t for a 58 home run season from teammate Ryan Howard, Utley would have had a bigger spotlight. Although he likely still wouldn’t have won, Howard’s 2006 MVP campaign overshadowed the consistent Utley.

If those tweets from baseball stats guru, Ryan M. Spaeder, mean anything it is that Utley certainly deserves the Hall of Fame nod. Utley is the 11th best second baseman to ever play, per WAR. If Utley plays another year or two he can easily surpass Craig Biggio for tenth all-time. Only two players above Utley, Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich, aren’t in the Hall of Fame.

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In fact, Utley has a higher WAR than 12 of the 20 Hall of Fame second baseman enshrined in Cooperstown. The veteran second baseman is also just 167 hits away from 2000. This would make Utley just the fifth second baseman ever with 2000 hits, 250 home runs and 150 stolen bases.

Add in a World Series ring to polish off Utley’s resume and it seems almost inevitable that he will get his call to Cooperstown. Heck, he made his debut at 24, if he would have debuted just two seasons later this status would be more than cemented.

However, the biggest counter-argument against Utley is, ironically, his longevity. While he has been the model of consistency, his prime wasn’t that long. Utley started regressing as early as 2011. Although he has had promising seasons after, this could be a huge knock on him. He was never considered dominant, and for some voters that is important.

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Plus, the Dodgers second baseman could have strong competition. Just among his peers that are set to retire soon, Utley may get left in the shadows. Adrian Beltre, Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols are all guaranteed nods. If Utley wants to avoid getting scraped off the ballot early, he may want to time his retirement perfectly.