"I felt like I swung the bat a lot better last year than the year before," Utley said. "I squared up a lot more balls and they say they work out for you. I feel like I didn't get the benefit of the doubt last year, but that's baseball. That's how it works. But again, it's a new year and I'm extremely excited."
Utley had a career-low .261 batting average on balls in play, down from his career BABIP of .306. That was despite having his highest line drive rate (21.4%) since 2008.
Power, a great eye, speed and defense still made Utley a very productive player in 2012 even if the hits didn't fall in as they should have. Utley had a .566 batting average on line drives. League average tends to hover around .730. For him, that was a difference of nine hits. Those nine extra hits would have increased his batting average by 30 points, from .256 to .286. Quite a difference.
Some other interesting quotes from Utley:
"No doubt," he said when asked if he'll play the first home spring training game.
On contract year
"Obviously I'm aware of that, but I don't think it really changes anything that I've done. I've approached every season the same way. The last two years didn't go well as getting on the field, initially. So yeah, obviously you know about it, but it's not going to change anything."
On how many more years he'd like to play
"Not necessarily a number. I enjoy this game, I feel like I have a lot to still do in this game. So who knows, but I'd like to play more than this year. That's for sure."
On team getting older/window closing/sense of pride
"Clearly we want to get back to that level. There's not many of those same guys on this team. There's a handful of guys on that '08 team. So it's a new group of guys, new faces and a new year. So yeah, we want to get back to that level, no doubt. I feel like we have the talent to do it. We're all a year older, but age is just a number. It's how you treat your body, how you take care of it.
"We have some new faces and some younger guys with a lot of energy. Ben Revere for example is pretty exciting to watch. I just watched him track down fly balls in centerfield during batting practice and he's pretty impressive. He's a tremendous athlete, so it's going to be fun to watch him play on a daily basis. Having Michael Young at third base, he's a professional, he's a true gamer. I was really happy we were able to get him. Obviously not only a great player, but a good guy."
On re-examining his style of play after what he's been through the past few years
"A little bit. As you get older, your ideal thing is to learn a little bit and to try to get something out of the game. But again, you try to have the same mindset every day. You hear it all the time but baseball is a game of repetition. Every day is pretty much the same day once the season starts, no matter who you're playing, who you're facing. You have a game, no matter what. You try not to look too far ahead."