Chasing History

By jason keen
Updated: September 17, 2009

When a former major league ball player give a complement about another player people listen, especially when it pertains to a player at his same position. Anybody that follows baseball knows that Joe Morgan thinks very highly of himself, and rightfully so as he is regarded by many as the best ever.

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So when Joe Morgan said in the middle of an ESPN broadcast this year that Utley could go down as the best 2nd basemen ever, I was speechless. Morgan would add “he’s got a beautiful stroke, what a beautiful swing, great hands.”

Would Nicholas ever say the same about Tiger? Would Jordan ever say that same about Labron? If Joe Morgan of all people complimented Chase Utley, it has to be justified.

This got me wondering where Utley currently ranks amongst the best 2nd basemen of all time.

The top ten 2nd Basemen of all time in no specific order are Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan, Rogers Hornsby, Nap Lajoie, Charlie Gehringer, Jackie Robinson, Frankie Frisch, Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, and Ryne Sandberg

Through the first six years of his career, his first being a half season and the sixth being just about 3/5 way through, Chase Utley has more Home Runs, RBI’s, and Total Bases than every player on the list, and more doubles than every player but Nap Lajoie, who has 17 more. And by seasons end, he will have more runs than everyone but Lajoie, Gehringer and Robinson.

Where Utley Ranks
HR 1st
RBI 1st
TB 1st
2B 2
nd (trails Lajoie by 17)
R 4
th

While Utley may trail in avg he has a career .300 average and a slg above .500 good for the last three silver slugger awards. And while he is not necessarily known for stealing bases his 74 and 85 tries gives him a career 87% stolen base percentage.

While we may not know for a while if he Joe Morgan is correct, tt is pretty safe to say that Utley will end up being the best Phillies 2nd Basemen of all time. Of the 32 players in the Hall of Fame that have worn a Phillies jersey, 5 were second basemen; Sparky Anderson, Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, Johnny Evers and Nap Lajoie.

However, Anderson was voted in as a manager, Sandberg and Evers were both only a Phillie for one year, Morgan showed up towards of the end of his career after the Big Red Machine, and Lajoie was enshrined more so for his work with Cleveland.

The second tier Phillies 2nd basemen of all time, Tony Taylor, Juan Samuel, Manny Trillo and Dave Cash were all “All good second basemen but not great second basemen,” this according to unofficial team historian Rich Westcott, who would go on to say that he would put Chase far and away the best.

So what do current and former managers think of Utley? Current Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel described Chase as the most prepared player he has ever been around. Former Phillies GM Ed Wade said the “only thing standing between Chase and the Hall of Fame is a potential health issue.” Former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi described him as “The best…A complete player…Improved so much defensively…The way he plays. The kind of hitter he is. The power he displays…Just the all-around ability he has.” And, Phillies chairman Bill Giles said of Utley, “The best that I have ever seen play, or know about in the history of the Phillies.”

Is Utley the best 2nd Basemen of all time? The numbers speak for themselves. Even if they didn’t, former managers, chairmen, and coaches do. Only time will tell.

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