Everyone prepares to write their player previews differently. Some pour over their BP Annual. Some spend time clicking through Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs. All of that felt too clinical for Chase Utley. When we write these previews, we've been away from baseball for months. I wanted to immerse myself in Chase Utley, remember how it feels to watch him do baseball things. So, I decided to head over to MLB.com's video archive. Since I've already covered the classics in great detail, I stuck with more recent Chase Utley clips.
This is from last September's hot streak. His swing is so quick, but it looks effortless. The ball even sails through the air gracefully. If baseballs can dream, I bet they dream of being hit by Chase Utley's bat. And that lucky baseball's dream came true.
I had to fan myself after watching this one, because that is some sexy defense. Look at that barehanded grab! The best part about that play is that Utley gets there so quickly that he can time his grab perfectly. He gets to his spot and just waits for the ball to hop up into his hand. And then it does! I'd say it's like magic, but that would be wrong. It's not magic, it's skill and talent!
Oh how I love it when Utley flips to Rollins. There isn't a team that does it better. I like to imagine sometimes that Utley and Rollins are the stars of their own Odd Couple buddy cop sitcom. Utley's the fastidious hard-ass who always follows the rules, and Rollins is the genial, creative slob who follows his instincts. Utley smolders while Rollins swaggers. Together they are... Smolder & Swagger! This fall on CBS!
Walk-off walk, and in the classic 1991 uniforms, no less! When you're tied in extra innings and the bases are loaded, who do you want at the plate? It's hard to do much better than Chase Utley. And if you're like me and you want to see more of the Phillies playing in those sweet unis, here's the link to the two minute game recap.
You'd think that the best part of this video is Utley's giant turn at third, since you know in his heart he longs to keep going and turn it into an inside-the-parker. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. The best moment is around the thirty second mark. You can just see it before he looks down at the ground. See what, you ask? Utley smiled. Yes, Chase Utley smiled. While playing baseball! Just watch -- he wants to suppress it, but he can't! He cracks a smile and then looks down at the ground. I love that it's a triple that makes Utley smile. A triple is earned on the bases. It's challenging, and smiling after that is such an Utley thing to do.
I know what you may be thinking. Why am I featuring all these clips from the last two months of the 2013 season in my 2014 preview? Because that's the kind of player Chase Utley has always been, and what I expect in 2014. He will do Chase Utley things, and he will do them well. He'll also do what every other baseball player does: strike out, ground out, and miss plays every now and then. But the way he does his Chase Utley things, that's what sets him apart.
We don't know what's going to happen during the upcoming season, though I have a strong sense of foreboding. It's easy to pick out the negative things, as they're relatively obvious these days. So I'm making a concerted effort to find the good things contained within the 2014 Phillies. The things I know I can look forward to. Chase Utley is one of those good things. I could hash out his numbers, but I don't really want to. (If you do, here's his page at Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.) I'm just looking forward to watching him play in 2014. And I know you are, too.
I typed the words "Utley" and "inside-the-parker" really close together a few paragraphs ago, and now that's all I can think about. So here it is, one of the greatest clips ever. Watch it with me, won't you?
Still so awesome.