Chase Utley: Don’t Boo Too Soon

The fans in Philadelphia have never been known for being the most lenient fans in the world. If they don’t like you, they’ll let you know. Santa Claus was hit with snowballs and fans cheered when Michael Irvin tore his ACL. But, even with the rowdiness of the fans, I heard something Friday night I never thought I’d hear.

After grounding into a double play in his final at-bat on Friday, Chase Utley was booed. Did you comprehend that? CHASE UTLEY was BOOED!

There is no denying that Utley has been awful to start the year. He had, from a batting average perspective, one of the worst March/Aprils in MLB history. Utley’s .114 average over that time frame was good for fifth-worst all time, behind only Kevin Kouzmanoff in 2007 (.113), Aaron Hicks in 2013 (.133), Greg Walker in 1987 (.100), and Greg Vaugh in 2002 (.099).

Mike Schmidt has come forward saying he does not believe Utley’s slump will last much longer, saying, “I would have never dreamed Chase could have the results he’s had with his hitting ability.”

Interestingly enough, a slump like this one ended Schmidt’s career back in 1989. Schmidt was hitting just .203 through 42 games and decided, shockingly, to retire. The difference between the two is that Schmidt was coming off of shoulder surgery. Schmidt said, about questions around Utley being done, “I don’t think it’s time to start thinking about Chase Utley being at the end or anything like that. I put money on him being Player of the Month next [month]. It’ll turn around that fast. A couple of scratch hits, a couple of balls find holes, and the whole aura of the season can change.”

Utley has an absurdly low BABIP. In fact, he has the lowest in baseball, and it’s not even close. Mark Teixeira has the second-worst BABIP in baseball at .182. Utley’s is .111. To put that in perpective, Dee Gordon has a .482 BABIP.

That rate will go up, and his average will even out. If you remember, Utley started off scorching hot to begin last year and got progressively worse as the season went along. This could be a reverse of last year. He’s too good of a hitter to hit .100 all year.

Time will tell if the boos will be warranted or not. But, the smart money is on the latter.

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