Chase Utley and Craig Biggio | Another Hall of Fame debate

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
@Philabaseball
The culmination of two decades worth of bruises and cuts may finally come this week for Craig Biggio via a phone call from the Hall of Fame.

He is not the best player on this year's ballot, but his stellar career numbers coupled with the fact he has no known ties to performance-enhancing drugs give him an excellent chance of being elected. 

Chase UtleyFast forward a few years from now and we may be having a similar conversation about Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. 

Biggio played in 2,850 games while Utley has appeared in just 1,192, so looking purely at career totals does not make much sense. What does make sense is looking at the figures each put up during the peak of their career, conceding the notion that Utley's best days are behind him.

Baseball-Reference uses a statistic called WAR7 that sums the seven best WAR seasons for a player, so looking at the graph to the right you can see Utley has an advantage. Biggio carries  a significant advantage in WAR, but that partly is because he has a ten year advantage in playing time compared to Utley.

JAWS is a newer metric, measuring Hall of Fame worthiness by averaging WAR and WAR7 together. Again, Utley falls short but that simply is because of Biggio's advantage in games played.

Given that Utley has played just ten seasons, here is a comparison of his numbers to Biggio's first decade in the majors:

 
The figures indicate it is the numbers Biggio put up on the backend of his career that truly give him a boost towards the Hall of Fame. 

Due in part to injuries, Utley likely will not have a similar resurgence at the end of his career.

For one final comparison, here is how the two compare averaging their career totals over a traditional 162 game season:

Realistically, Utley needs another three or four productive seasons to show he belongs in Cooperstown.

- Patrick Gordon is the editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Contact him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com or @Philabaseball on Twitter.

2 comments:

Chase said...

Its a shame Utley began to be plagued by injuries starting in 2010 because from 2005-09 Utley was a viable MVP candidate and in my opinion, the best player on the Phillies. If Lannan didn't plunk Utley in the hand in '07, I think Chase would have won the NL MVP.

Given the numbers Utley was posting during that span, he was well on his way to a Hall of Fame caliber career, but I'm not sure that is the case now with his recent drop off in play due to injuries and the fact he couldn't put up all star numbers for a longer period of time.

I think Utley does have a comeback year in '13 and hits around 20 homeruns, though. Hopefully his best days are not past him because he defines the way baseball should be played in Philadelphia.

Patrick Gordon said...

Yeah, he was on pace to be one of the greatest at his position until injuries derailed him. Projections show him failing to get to 500 plate appearances, so who really knows what to expect this year. I can't see him putting together three or four more productive years though, and I that is what he needs to be strongly considered for the HOF.