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Chase Utley = Don Mattingly

Apr 3, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

utley ap AP

Chase Utley has had an amazing career. And now it looks like it is being derailed in a major way due to injuries. And, as Dash Treyhorn notes over at The Good Phight, we’ve seen this before:

Don Mattingly was really, really good for the latter half of the 80s. After that, it all went downhill … Like Mattingly, Utley’s reign lasted six years, from 2005 to 2010, when he hit .298/.388/.523 with 162 homers and 572 RBIs in 869 games.

Treyhorn notes in an extended assessment of each of their careers that Utley is much older than Mattingly was when his injury-induced slide began, but the parallels are pretty striking otherwise.  As are the likely Hall of Fame implications.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    It’s a true shame to watch the elite get slammed by injuries like this. The game wears you out like crazy, in between constant workouts, 162 games not including 30-40 ST games, and a long tiring schedule. We demand a lot out of our MLB players.

    • ras1tafari - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      Pull up the wahmbulance. These players make exponentially more money than all of us to play a game 162 time a year. Get a real f—–g job then see what kind of demands are put you.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:39 PM

        I have a real job. I have a ton of bills, massive student debt and my own wedding to pay for.

        I’m just saying, we demand a lot, their body goes through a lot, and it’s a shame to see talent damaged like this.

      • nategearhart - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        It must be hell being trapped in a baseball blog, what with how much you hate baseball.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        I dont really demand a lot out of them. I just watch them on the schedule MLB has decided for them.

  2. hasbeen5 - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    This is why it’s always been hard for me to give guys crap for landing on the DL. I guess people don’t always think about what these guys put their bodies through, or how even a nagging injury can affect performance against that level of competition. It also makes me respect guys like Chipper Jones or Utley even more for doing whatever they can to overcome the injuries and get back on the field. It’s not like they need the money at this point.

  3. Kevin S. - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    You’ve got that headline wrong. Chase Utley > Don Mattingly. And I say that as a guy who came of age as a Yankee fan with a father who revered Donnie Baseball. Utley is better.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      The article wasn’t about a direct comparison of talent.

    • 5thbase - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      Saying something incorrect like it’s fact just makes you sound dumb, especially when your “point” isn’t even what the article is about.

      FYI, Utley has always had huge protection in the lineup and he’s won player of the month twice and zero MVP awards. I wonder if you would even remember who was hitting behind Mattingly when he won his four player of the month awards and one MVP (1985).

      Utley has been a great player to be sure. I just think it’s remarkably stupid to pretend that he’s objectively better than Mattingly was when there are a lot of reasons to think otherwise.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        I puked in my mouth a little when I read what you typed. So players should be judged on who they are surrounded by on the team as well as player of the month and mvp awards?

      • 5thbase - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        How do you judge players? How they look in their uniforms? Or you just like Utley so much that the logic of the benefit of protection and his lack of awards is offensive?

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:32 PM

        Like Mr. Lucky and Mr. Overrated?

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:42 PM

        I use statistics. They are the results of how well they play. Your way of judging is actually closer to how they look in their uniforms than mine is. I think they are pretty even at this point and Mattingly has much more time under his belt. I’m afraid Utley won’t last as long to prove he’s any better. If you use WAR Utley IS better though. He’s accumulated more WAR than Mattingly did in much less time.

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        Hey, 5thbase, how about you judge them on, oh, I don’t know, but maybe something like how they play? Utley most certainly was not always playing for a team that would break open the checkbook when the need arose. The last few years, the Phightins have begun shelling out money, but before Jim Thome’s first tour in the red pinstripes, and for several years after that, not so much.

      • shutupyoufuckingidiots - Apr 3, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        I agree with you, that’s why Utley has won one and been to two World Series, Mattingly managed to not win a world series with the fucking YANKEES, think about how fucking insane that is.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 3, 2012 at 2:35 PM

        benefit of protection

        You keep using this phrase. You do realize the idea of “protection” has been proven to be a myth right?

        Also, Winfield batted behind Mattingly in ’85. Mattingly also didn’t deserve the MVP, when Henderson was a far more valuable player that year.

      • 5thbase - Apr 3, 2012 at 4:33 PM

        I use statistics. They are the results of how well they play.

        How are these for statistics … Mattingly with 4 years of OPS+ of 140+ (156 in ’84, 158 in ’85, 161 in ’86 and 146 in ’87) and Utley with one (146 in ’07); Mattingly with 4 top 7 MVP finishes (1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th) and Utley with 1 (7th)? The point that I’m making isn’t that Mattingly is obviously the better player, it’s that claiming Utley is so obviously and objectively better is very silly.

        If you use WAR Utley IS better though. He’s accumulated more WAR than Mattingly did in much less time.

        And this, I believe, is the best case for Utley. Replacing elite level hitting production at first base is significantly easier than at second base. I understand the argument for Utley, he’s been a great player.

        Utley has won one and been to two World Series, Mattingly managed to not win a world series with the fucking YANKEES, think about how fucking insane that is

        Obviously the best baseball players are always the ones with the most rings. Damien Miller was not a better player than Robin Yount. And if you think the Yankees should have been winning rings when Mattingly was in his prime you obviously weren’t watching then.

        You do realize the idea of “protection” has been proven to be a myth right?

        I would be interested to see the research you are quoting.

        Also, Winfield batted behind Mattingly in ’85

        This is exactly my point, thank you. Winfield had a weaksauce .799 OPS that year.

        Mattingly also didn’t deserve the MVP, when Henderson was a far more valuable player that year.

        Henderson had a great year in ’85. Making a case that Henderson should have won the MVP would be reasonable, but stating as fact that the voters got it wrong is, pretty stupid given that Mattingly had a higher OPS, led the league in doubles, RBI’s and total bases and completely carried the team the last two months of the season. And even if they did get it wrong, Utley has still never finished higher than 7th in MVP voting.

        Again, the point isn’t that Utley is bad or that Matting is better. It is that it’s really dumb to think that Utley is clearly better than a player who has quite a few statistics in his favor.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 3, 2012 at 4:58 PM

        “How are these for statistics …”

        5th base, now that’s more like it! It really does make me sick when people use awards to explain how A played better than B while calling someone else “dumb sounding”. There are plenty of examples of how that’s not the most accurate measuring tool. To be honest I’m not comfortable comparing those two until Utley is done with his career anyway. But yeah, I don’t think Utley can top Mattingly offensively, which would be crazy for a second baseman anyway.

  4. mdpickles - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Utley is the classic overachiever. Of course he has talent, but he wouldn’t have been Chase Utley if he didn’t work harder than everyone else to get where he was. The days of 700lb power squats and other strength intensive workouts have taken a toll on his body.

  5. chew1985 - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    During his first full season as a Phillies, Utley was interviewed on tv after hitting the game winning home run. Harry Kalas asked him “you seem to relish these pressure situations and perform even better when the outcome of the game is on the line.”

    Utley, with his stoic facial expression simply said “Isn’t that what we’re all here for?” That’s when I knew for sure that the Phillies had something special in this guy. My heart aches for him now. He loves baseball more than any of us… and once upon a time… he could live his dream every day.

    We should all be so blessed.

  6. hushbrother - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Maybe a position change (left field?) would help extend Chase’s career. Anything to get out of the minefield that is the Phillies’ infield

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      Never thought Rollins would be the last man standing.

  7. spudchukar - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Chase Utley deserves all the Kudos he gets. While I certainly have no affinity for the Phillies, his excellence in all phases of the game make him special. That said, from a purely offensive perspective, Utley is not Mattingly’s equal. But the comparison still has merit, cause they brought what is rare, a combination of talent, class, and the ability to seize the moment and exercise their respective gifts to the max.

    • ame123 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      Yeah Utley is way better offensively than Mattingly ever was. And at a premium defensive position instead of 1st base while at it.

      • mets79 - Apr 3, 2012 at 4:08 PM

        Really? Way better? I’m obviously not a fan of either team, but come on if you are comparing the 2 players during the 6 year peak the best argument you can make is that Utley is marginally better. And while 2nd base is a more premium defensive position, Mattingly was excellent at 1st (though he was the second best 1st baseman in NY at the time) so that is not going to separate the two significantly.

  8. thomas2727 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Ahhh a Yankees/Phillies pi$$ing contest means baseball is back.

    How can you not love the two most obnoxious fan bases jabbing at each other?

    This will be more fun to follow than the 2009 World Series.

  9. brewcrewfan54 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Mattingly! Trim those sideburns!!

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