After an injury-plagued year, Chase Utley enjoyed a nice bounce-back season in his second season, and first full year, with the Dodgers in 2016.
What went right
Back with the Dodgers on a one-year deal, Utley through May 31 was hitting .283/.369/.428.
Universally respected in the clubhouse, Utley provided mentorship to double play partner Corey Seager. Clayton Kershaw said in May of Utley, “If I had a son, I’d tell him to play the game like Chase Utley.”
Utley, a 13-year veteran of the Phillies, came alive at the plate in National League East parks in 2016. In 13 such games, Utley hit .268/.311/.571 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 61 plate appearances.
With runners in scoring position, Utley hit .276/.354/.460. He hit two of the Dodgers’ seven grand slams in 2016, and was 4-for-5 with a double and those two home runs with the bases loaded.
Utley drove in the winning run in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Nationals.
Utley hit .281/.343/.466 with 10 home runs and 16 doubles on the road.
What went wrong
Utley hit .216/.290/.312 with four home runs and 10 doubles at Dodger Stadium.
Utley over the final four months hit .236/.292/.381 in 91 games, and was miscast as leadoff hitter with 73 of his 78 starts from June 1 through the end of the season batting first despite his low on-base percentage.
He hit just .154/.206/.264 against left-handed pitchers. But the Dodgers mostly platooned Utley; he only started seven times in the club’s 46 games against southpaw starting pitchers.
Utley was 3-for-28 (.107) with three walks and a hit by pitch in the postseason, including 0-for-12 in the NLCS against the Cubs.
Stats: .252/.319/.396, 14 HR, 26 doubles, 95 OPS+, 2.0 rWAR, 2.0 fWAR
Salary: $7 million
Game of the year
In one of the more magical games of the season, Utley on Aug. 16 triumphantly returned to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded to the Dodgers in August 2015. Utley homered twice, including a grand slam in the seventh inning in the Dodgers’ 15-5 win over the Phillies.
More amazingly, in a night filled with standing ovations for Utley, the city that booed Santa Claus gave a visiting player not one, but two curtain calls.
Utley is a free agent.