He’s 37 years old, he’s starting his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and opposing players aren’t really quite fond of him. None of that phases Chase Utley, and it seems that his teammates have picked up on quite a few things from him.
Last season, Utley hit .202 in 141 plate appearances after an August 19th trade to Los Angeles. He also hit three home runs and knocked in nine runs, but he greatly struggled at the plate and it looked like age was starting to be a major factor.
“When you see Chase out there, and he’s all business, playing hard, you’re like, ‘OK, maybe we should cut a little bit of this [stuff] out,'” [Justin] Turner said. “He’s done everything the right away for a long time. It rubs off on guys.”
While his dip at the plate was noticeable, Utley’s approach out there on the diamond made his teammates take notice of just how serious he took the game and how much winning mattered to him. Winning is the only thing to Utley, and they know it.
That wasn’t all, though. The team also benefited on the basepaths once Utley arrived:
“Once he got over here, we started running the bases a lot better,” he said.
Oh, and Turner wasn’t kidding. Utley is one of the best baserunners in baseball history despite not having the speed that would make you think it’s possible. In fact, as McCullough notes, Utley ranks 13th all-time among players since 1950 in FanGraphs’ baserunning runs above replacement.
Utley has made a massive impact on every team he’s been on throughout his career. He’s going to be a future Hall of Famer, whether you choose to accept it or not, and the team should be thrilled to have his acumen on the team, even if he’s not what he once was physically.