Search Archives
Analyze This

Do you have something you would like to analyze? Send us a note and we will be happy to do the research!

What's New

In Broadcast Analysis
Twitter Feeds
« Rangers Extend Derek Holland | Main | Andy Pettitte Breaks out the Cutter, Unretires »

Utley Upstairs

Doc, Hamels and Lee, and pray for three (runs)? The Phillies, tied for sixth among NL clubs with a 95 OPS+ in 2011 and already down Ryan Howard for a few months in 2012, received more ominous news on Monday. Second baseman Chase Utley has left camp to meet with a specialist due to chronic pain in both knees,'s Todd Zolecki reports:

The Phillies started Monday with the following statement from general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.: "Chase's rehab process has come to a bit of a plateau. He has made some strides, but not enough to take the field."

Utley, 33, hasn't appeared in a game this spring. The bum left knee is the latest in a series of ailments including offseason hip surgery after the 2008 season, right thumb surgery in 2010 and a right knee injury that sidelined him this past year and continues to bother him. He played in 115 games in '10 and just 103 in 2011. As the former perennial MVP candidate's body has betrayed him, Utley's OPS+ has dipped from 137 in '09 to 123 in '10 and 109 in '11. Much of that decline can be traced to Utley being bullied when pitches challenge him upstairs.

First, take a look at the average in-play slugging percentage for lefty hitters on pitches thrown in the upper third of the strike zone since 2009:

Average in-play slugging percentage by LHB on high pitches, 2009-11

Overall, lefty hitters slugged .408 on pitches thrown high from 2009-11. Now, look at Utley's in-play slugging percentage on high pitches since 2009.

He came back strong from hip surgery in '09... 

Utley's in-play slugging percentage vs. high pitches, 2009

 ...Dipped to about league average in '10...

Utley's in-play slugging percentage vs. high pitches, 2010...And was ice cold against high stuff in '11... 

Utley's in-play slugging percentage vs. high pitches, 2011

Utley is swinging at more high pitches and making more contact, but the injury-riddled second baseman isn't driving the ball at all:

Utley vs. High Pitches, 2009-11

Year Swing Pct. Miss Pct. Slug Pct.
2009 28 15.5 .518
2010 33.6 14 .403
2011 35.8 7.2 .230
Avg. for LHB 38.8 19.5 .408


Utley didn't record a single extra-base hit on a pitch thrown high in the zone in 2011. And pitchers seemed to take note of his troubles against high stuff, throwing 21.8% of their offerings high after doing so about 20% the previous two years.

While Utley is clearly in decline, Philly must hope for quick progress in his rehab if its offense is going to avoid falling into the bottom half of the NL. Prospect Freddy Galvis (projected for a 261/.299/.359 line by ZiPS) is expected to take over for Utley (.265/.362/.448 ZiPS projection). Galvis is considered a plus fielder, but the difference between the two at the plate according to ZiPS is roughly a quarter of a run per game. Over 600 plate appearances, it's about 36 runs. Even if it's diminished, the Phillies need Utley's bat.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: