[FuquaManuel and I wrote our two Utley pieces independently. There is some overlap, and he's more eloquent as usual, but this has moar stats!]
SB Nation is built around the idea of letting fans voice their opinions. As one might expect, that can have varying degrees of success.
For example there is Phil Allen ("Phil of Mt. Airy"), who achieved many fans' dream when he was given his own show on 97.5. On Saturday Phil was regaling listeners with his opinions on Chase Utley: that the Phillies' offense is suffering due to the lack of production from their second baseman.
This was obviously before Utley's 2-homer, 4-time on base game.
I've gotten the impression that Phil has an issue with what he perceives as unfair treatment the fans and media have given Jimmy Rolilns and Ryan Howard because they are African-American, while Chase Utley skates by even while his production "continues declining."
So what was the situation at the time of his latest salvo today?
Best-Hitting Second Basemen
Of the 35 second basemen with 200+ PA's, these were the best hitters (again, all stats are before Saturday's game):
*WAR per 700 plate appearances
Pedroia had been fairly convincingly the best hitting second baseman, and then there is a five-way tie for second best, including Utley.
Shane Victorino is having the best season among position players, and based on WAR, even better than any starting pitcher, but if you extrapolate WAR to a full season, there are other contenders (hitters extrapolated to 700 PAs, pitchers from 98 to 162 games).
The resurgence of the Phillies' offense since Utley returned has been reported elsewhere, but bears repeating:
Runs per game
- before May 23: 3.83
- May 23-July 22: 4.65
The highest-scoring team in the NL this year has been the St. Louis Cardinals, with 4.67 runs per game, so since Utley's returned, the Phillies have essentially turned into the best-hitting team in the league.
I don't know that all of this improvement is due to Utley, but replacing Wilson Valdez with Utley is worth about .4 runs per game (32 wRC for Utley, vs. 12 for Valdez, both in approx. 48 games).
I sometimes think it's a waste of time responding to every crackpot in the media, but when I think of the unsuspecting listeners who think this stuff is based on reality and there must be some valid reason this guy on the radio is saying these things, it seems like a response is warranted.