It took a while for Utley to become the Phillies starting second baseman. In 2005 the Phillies went with Placido Polanco at second. They appeared a lot of ways to be close to equal, but Utley was three years younger. Utley started great in 2006 and even though Polanco was playing better in 2006 than 2005, he was traded to the Tigers. What the Phillies were left with was a second baseman who could do it all. Finally at the age of 26 Utley was a full-time starter. He did it all for 5 years (2005 to 2009). He was great in the field, a darn fine hitter for a second baseman, a solid runner who was a high percentage base stealer (he was 23 for 23 in 2009) and he hit for really good power for a middle infielder. One thing that surprised me when looking at his statistics is he had 100 or more RBIs four straight years during his prime. I considered him more of a leadoff or number 2 hitter.
Utley played for the Phillies for the best years in their history. They made the playoffs 5 straight years from 2007 to 2011, winning one World Series and 2 pennants.
Utley still played well in 2010, However, he only played 115 games due to injury. In 2011 he had chronic knee problems. He played only 103 games and not as well. While he had better seasons than 2011, he was never the same player he was never near the same player as in his peak. Finally, in 2015 he was traded to the Dodgers. He finished that season with the team and played three more seasons with the team. However, he wasn’t near the player he use to be. He was now at best an average player and didn’t have the range in the field any more. I saw him in the post season with the Dodgers and I could tell he didn’t have his formal skills.
There was something strange about Utley’s post season career. He was solid with the Phillies. Some series he didn’t hit that much, but overall, he was good player who was definitely involved with the Phillies success. He was the opposite with the Dodgers. He was able to score a lot of runs with the Phillies. In 46 playoffs with the Phillies, he scored 38 runs, an excellent rate. With the Dodgers he scored 3 runs in 22 games, not good. One issue was he didn’t always start with the Dodgers. However, more important was he had only 4 singles in 46 at bats, so he had an 087 batting and slugging average with the Dodgers. He did get on base with 5 walks and was hit by a pitch 3 times, so his on base percentage was .222. Still not good, but better than his batting average.
Speaking of hit by pitches, remember Utley was number 8 on all-time hit by pitch list and led the league three years in a row in his prime. It was helpful for him to get on base for those power hitters behind him to drive him in.