After being Mr. Consistent and the best second basemen in the game for about five years, Chase Utley has been anything but consistent since 2010. The injury prone infielder has experienced a roller coaster of highs and lows over the past few years. That being said, after four weeks of the 2014 season that he entered with lowered expectations, he seems to be back.
His talent was never in question, being one of the most sure handed infielders in baseball and having one of the most compact swings you will ever see. What was in question was his race against father time, having endured so many surgeries over the past few years. However, Chase is healthy now and he is on a tear, being on pace to bat .500 about a week ago.
Utley will likely get more days off than most star players and will eventually come back down to earth but the Phils roll of the dice to extend his contract two more years last season seems to have been a logical deal. He has already endured a 15 game hit streak this season and 10 of those games were multiple hit showings.
The key to his success seems to be his eye. Chase is seeing the ball very well which has resulted in putting the ball in play regularly and a very high walk to strikeout ratio. A main concern of an aging player is always power numbers but Utley is hitting with a lot of pop, getting his hips around and pulling most of his shots and get multiple bases frequently.
Ryan Howard, who often hits behind Utley, is also showing signs of improvement. When Phils fans think about Howard, they think strikeouts. However, this season he also has been seeing a lot more pitches and drawing a lot more walks than he typically does. This takes pressure off of other big bats in the lineup like Dom Brown. It is early in the season but if Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins can set the table, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to the ‘old and washed up’ middle of the lineup in Philadelphia.