A few nights ago, Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley reached a career milestone. He notched his 1000th career RBI. After seeing this, I asked myself, “Will Chase get into the Hall after he retires?” It brings up an interesting debate.
Chase made his MLB debut in 2003 with the Phillies as a 24 year old. He wasn’t a full time starter until 2004. He spent 13 years with the Phillies before being traded to the Dodgers in 2015. In 2005, he had his break out season. From 2005-2010, Chase was the best second baseman in the league. 5 all star appearances, 4 silver sluggers, many MVP votes, and a World Series Champion in 2008. He was one of the best players in the entire MLB.
It was in 2010, though, where Utley’s career started to take a dip. He couldn’t stay on the field. In 2010 he sprained his thumb and only played 115 games. In 2011, he had knee problems that included patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation which limited him to 103 games. In 2012, he had more chronic knee issues that made him miss April, May, and most of June.
The injuries is what will really hurt Chase’s chances at making it into the Hall of Fame. After all these injuries, he didn’t hit more than 18 home runs, didn’t hit higher than .284, and only made one more all star appearance. When he was in his prime, Chase always hit 30+ homers, 100+ RBIs, and a .290+ batting average. Yes, he was a GREAT player while in his prime, but due to injuries his prime only lasted 6 or 7 years. Are those 6 or 7 years good enough to get him into the hall?
Utley has the 11th highest “JAWS” all time out of second baseman. A player’s “JAWS” is their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR. He is higher than 13 second baseman who are already in the Hall of Fame, including greats Jackie Robinson, Roberto Alomar, and Craig Biggio. That shows that when Chase was in the prime of his career, he was one of the best.
Chase has the 5th best WAR out of all active major leaguers. The only players ahead of him are Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, and Miguel Cabrera. Pujols and Cabrera are considered by most to be no-doubt HOFers, while Beltre and Beltran have very good chances. Utley never had the greatest speed, but he was a heads up player, and is currently 2nd all time in career stolen base percentage.
One last thing (but certainly not least) that Chase had was heart. It isn’t something you can measure with stats, but Chase played the game harder than anybody. “He’s a gamer. And I think the bigger the situation, he thrives on it. And you can’t teach that.”-Former Major Leaguer Jim Thome. “I think his hustle, determination and Pete Rose style make people look to him as a leader. His opinion counts. He’s the heart of this team.” – his former manager Charlie Manuel.
Chase Utley is still playing, and he probably has a year or two left in the tank, so he has time to improve on his resume. He also has a chance to get another ring, this time with the Dodgers who currently have the best record in the MLB. It’s a very interesting debate with Utley, but if I had to vote on who gets in the Hall, he’d be on my ballot.