Just a few weeks ago, it wouldn’t have been outlandish to wonder whether or not Chase Utley‘s career was finished. Or, at least, whether or not he would still be able to compete every day at an elite level.
Since at least 2010 — probably even 2009 — he’s been hindered by hushed-up chronic knee issues that have forced him to spend significant time on the disabled list in each of the past 3 seasons. And when he has been able to play, his knees have prevented him from generating much power from his lower body at the plate, as evidenced by the disturbing trend in his isolated power (ISO) between 2008 and 2011: .244 in ’08, .226 in ’09, .169 in ’10, and .166 in ’11. After averaging 29.2 home runs per year between 2005 and 2009, he hit just 27 in 2010 and 2011 combined. He also saw a spike in his ground ball rate in 2011, and balls simply weren’t jumping off his bat like they used to. Continue reading