Chase Utley announced that he would retire from Major League Baseball at the end of the season. There is no doubt that Utley was a key fixture in the Phillies 2008 World Series run and has transitioned well to becoming a bench player and mentor for a young Dodgers team.
"I transitioned to a part-time player, something new for me, but I took it in stride," Utley said in his press conference. "Also, a part-time strength coach, part-time pitching coach, occasionally part-time catching coach as well as a part-time general manager. The thing I'm having the most difficult time with is being a part-time dad. So that's really the reason I'm shutting it down. I'm ready to be a full-time dad."
But is Utley a Hall-of-Fame player?
Those who played with Utley, that answer would likely be a resounding yes. When judging players in the minor leagues, many scouts turn to Utley as a standard for how prospects should conduct themselves. The second baseman's baseball I.Q. and instincts are off the charts, which was displayed in Game five of the 2008 World Series when Utley faked a throw to first to fool a baserunner headed home after seeing the difficult play about to be made.
"For me, this is a no-brainer Hall of Famer," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "Doing this now, Chase wanted to be able to focus on helping the 2018 Dodgers win a World Series. There's nothing that would cement his Hall of Fame candidacy more than that."
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On top of that, Utley has always advocated for playing the game the "right way." Running out routine ground balls as if he'll beat the throw, hustling to back up plays that will likely be routine in the infield, and never pimping home runs.
In fact, he runs out home runs like he's competing in a 100-yard dash. There is only one gear for Utley, pedal-to-the-metal every play.
But what about Utley's numbers? Are they Hall-of-Fame worthy?
Between 2005 to 2009, Utley batted .301 and on averaged 29 home runs and 101 RBIs per season. During that time, he was considered the pinnacle for second basemen in the MLB. One of the criteria for reaching the Hall of Fame is asking if the player dominated their era of the game (this doesn't seem to apply for steroid users).
Utley was certainly the most-dominant second baseman in that five-year period. Along with those numbers, he stockpiled four Silver Slugger Awards and four All-Star Game appearances. He finished in the Top-15 of the MVP voting each of those five seasons.
Utley's overall numbers keep him on the fringe when compared to second basemen already in the Hall of Fame. Had Utley not been plagued by knee injuries, he likely would be over the 2,00o hits mark and have over 300 home runs — which would make him and Rogers Hornsby the only two second basemen in the Hall with those numbers.
Utley is certainly not a first-ballot Hall of Famer with the numbers he currently has and will have at the end of his career. But looking at the player as a whole, how he contributed to the game, and the dominance he possessed in his career may sway voters to put him in down the road.