Key Stats: The key stat has to be two as in the number of promos I have seen for Sunday Night Baseball. The key stats Chase Utley had last season were enough for the premature CBS rankings (before Utley’s surgery) to list him at number four overall. He had 25 home runs and an OPS of .955 in that first half last year. He also has four straight years of over 100 RBI and 3 straight with over 100 runs scored. This type of production is usually coming from a top tier outfielder or first baseman.
Skeptics Say: It is almost certain that the hip caused Utley to hit just 8 second half home runs. Seeing that he has hit with power over the last week, there is optimism that hip surgery was effective and he is not rushing his comeback. Still there are concerns that with Utley now in his 30s, he will can never be counted to be healthy for a full season. In 2007 and 2005 he missed 30 and 15 games respectively. He doesn’t offer the same dependability as players such as Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard and Grady Sizemore have offered the last couple of seasons.
Peer Comparison: With Utley’s injury causing uncertainty who would be the first Phillies player taken off the board? Jimmy Rollins, Utley, and Howard are extremely close to each other in the rankings. Based on position scarcity and statistical scarcity Utley is the best selection.
With Howard there are just so many other options that would be great at first base. Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis are just a few of the many great options available. While the numbers that Howard puts up in the power categories are likely to go unmatched, players like Adam Dunn and Carlos Pena will go more toward the middle rounds of a draft and be among the league leaders in home runs.
Rollins is a great player for position scarcity since the next best shortstops (Alexei Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki) will go a couple rounds after him. Like Utley, Rollins will be coming off of a season plagued by injury and heading into his 30s there are plenty of skeptics who believe his 47 steals last season have to come down. In addition, Rollins has only had 2 seasons in which he has hit more than 15 home runs in his career.
I may have invented the term “statistical scarcity” in this post, but Utley has it. He will contribute in all five categories and obviously fill a position that becomes difficult to fill. Sure the 15 steals aren’t much, but it does leave a manager with the freedom of taking the best available player in the next several rounds. With Rollins and Howard selected first there are already glaring statistical weaknesses on a team.
Lineup Outlook: The Phillies have as good a lineup as any team in the NL. The prediction here is that they will have 6 players hit 20 or more home runs: Rollins, Shane Victorino, Utley, Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Jayson Werth.
What They’re Saying: MLB.com: #3 Second Baseman and #34 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #1 Second Baseman and #8 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #15 Overall; Fox Sports: #2 Second Baseman; ESPN: #1 Second Baseman; Yahoo: #2 Second Baseman and #22 Overall
Projection: Chase Utley. Chase bleeping Utley.
102R 32 HR 106 RBI 13 SB .310 AVG .930 OPS
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