Chase Utley
There is no debate that Chase Utley is one of the greatest baseball players in Philadelphia history, but is he worthy of a plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame? 
 
The Phillies great is one of 26 players on the Baseball Writers' Association of America's Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2024. Voting concluded on Dec. 31. and results will be announced via the MLB Network on Jan. 23. 
 
Utley's case is fascinating. He pieced together an outstanding six-year stretch between 2005-2010 where he was an All-Star every season, hitting a combined .298 with a 133 OPS+ while averaging 27 homers and 95 RBIs. He earned MVP votes in five of those six seasons, secured four Silver Slugger Awards, and was arguably the best defensive second baseman in baseball. He also played a significant role in lifting the Phillies to a World Series win in 2008 and homered five times in six games during the 2009 Fall Classic against the Yankees. 
 
“At times he can put close to what you’d call a perfect swing on the ball,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel once told Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News. 
 
“It’s good balance, rhythm, load, and at the same time getting a ball that you’d like to hit. And just, very slight, underneath the center of the ball. “He’s a very stylish hitter. He’s a good guy to talk about because, if you watch him day in and day out and look at him from a mechanics standpoint, he would be a tremendous guy to use as a demonstration for young kids.” 
 
In addition to his skills on the diamond, Utley was a leader in the clubhouse. He possessed a sense of grit and determination that commanded respect from his peers. 
 
The lone knock against Utley's career is his durability. Knee injuries began impacting his playing time in 2011 and remained until his retirement in 2018. He averaged playing in just 116 games over that eight-year span. 
 
The drop in playing time means Utley falls short statistically if you compare his career output in counting statistics to other players of his era or those already in the Hall of Fame. For example, Utley finished his career with 1,885 hits over 16 seasons, and the BBWAA has never voted in a player with less than 2,000 hits. 
 
While he displayed an impressive peak in his career, spanning six dominant seasons, the brevity of this period might be perceived by voters as insufficient for induction, given the BBWAA's emphasis on longevity as a defining factor.
 
Utley amassed a formidable 64.5 WAR over his career, a figure that places him 12th all-time among second basemen. However, this statistic falls just shy of the average WAR of the 20 second basemen currently honored in Cooperstown, trailing by a margin of five points. 
 
Candidates for the Hall of Fame can stay on the ballot for up to a decade, yet they face removal if they receive less than 5% of cast ballots in a given year. 
 
According to Ryan Thibodaux's analysis of publicized ballots, Utley's chances of reaching the 75% vote required for Hall of Fame induction this year seem notably distant. As of Tuesday, he has appeared on just 47 of 105 ballots for 44.7%.
 
The debate continues.

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