Plate discipline? Check. Gets on base? Check. Ability to steal bases? Check. Oh, and he'll bust it to first on every play, too.
He should lead off for the Phillies next season.
Think about it, and it makes perfect sense.
Utley's got the ability to get on base. His .373 career on-base percentage is right on par with some of baseball's best leadoff men — Dexter Fowler (.365), Ichiro (.361), Nori Aoki (.355) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.350).
Even last season, in a down year for him, Utley's .348 OBP was better than Jimmy Rollins' OBP from his '07 MVP season (.344). Since he became a full-time starter in 2005, it's never been below .344.
And Chase, the team player that he is, hits situationally. When he's the No. 2 guy, he tries to move guys over. When he's the No. 3 guy, he aims to drive guys in. As a leadoff man, no doubt, his goal would simply be to get on base.
Stealing bases? Definitely. He may have swiped just eight all of last year — and his career high for a season is 23 — but he's got the highest base-stealing proficiency rating in baseball history at 88.4 percent. That's right, the highest ever among players with at least 100 attempts.
His heads-up, smart baserunning would benefit the Phillies greatly in the top spot.
Believe it or not, Utley's only batted leadoff twice in his career. (Sept. 26 and Oct. 2 of 2004: He went 2 for 10 with a run and a stolen base.) He's batted more in every other spot in the lineup except ninth.
Moreover, Utley in the top spot balances the Phillies lineup about as well as it could be balanced, as was brought up in an earlier post. An ideal lineup might look like this:
1) Chase Utley (L)
2) Jimmy Rollins (S)
3) Domonic Brown (L)
4) Marlon Byrd (R)
5) Ryan Howard (L)
6) Carlos Ruiz (R)
7) Cody Asche (L)
9) Ben Revere (L)
In that lineup, the Phillies would avoid lefties back-to-back except in the case of Revere and Utley, and Revere's an atypical lefty anyway who's better at hitting same-handed pitching in his career (.300) than right-handed pitching (.277).
Batting Revere ninth would also limit his GIDP opportunities if Ruiz or Asche got on as, ideally, the pitcher would bunt the runner over.
It's a lineup worth considering, and Utley would be perfect for the top of it.