For whatever reason — maybe it’s these reports about Utley maybe getting a new deal with the Phillies — I happened to look him up on Baseball-Reference.com. Noticed that he’s 34, which seems old for a new deal. But then again it’s the Phillies, and they don’t see color. Or age. Then I noticed that Utley’s sitting on 58 career Wins Above Replacement.
He’s got 58 Wins+ and he’s not even halfway to 3,000 hits. How good has this guy actually been, when he’s actually played?
He’s been incredible. I made a list of the top 20 second basemen, which includes all the Hall of Famers except Johnny Evers, Red Schoendienst, and Bill Mazeroski. Then I figured their Wins+ per 162 games. Here are the top six:
1. Rogers Hornsby (9.1)
2. Chase Utley (7.4)
3. Nap Lajoie (7.3)
4. Jackie Robinson (7.3)
5. Eddie Collins (7.1)
6. Joe Morgan (6.1)
Yes, Philadelphia, nerds love WAR, and, clearly, it’s the only metric that matters when measuring humans who play a game with sticks and balls (I like my sarcasm thick, meaty). But, in the wake of my post calling for the Phillies to do the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do (if necessary), it’s worth pointing out how good Chase Utley is when he’s healthy. Even if it took a national baseball writer a decade to figure it out.