The enormous crater size hole at second base for the Dodgers has been the focal point of discussion for most of the offseason after the Dodgers traded Howie Kendrick to the Phillies for next to nothing earlier in the winter. With the Brian Dozier deal all but dead after the front office has decided to hoard all of their prospects, another season of the .190 hitting Kike Hernandez batting lead-off against every southpaw is looming like a speeding asteroid crashing into Earth. While we all know that the brain trust strangely loves Hernandez’s awful hitting and subpar defense we’re all still holding out hope that the Dodgers will bring in somebody else whether that comes from inside or outside of the organization to fill the second base void.
That could be veteran Chase Utley. Last winter the Dodgers brought him back on a one-year 7 million dollar contract and he played admirably, spending most of the time at second base going in and out of the lineup for the majority of the season. Utley played respectable baseball proving again that he can still play despite his age.
The 38-year old MLB veteran slashed .252/.319/.396 with 14 home runs in 565 plate appearances. Utley played in 138 games and posted a .716 OPS. That was good for a 95 OPS+ or roughly league average offense. On defense, Utley played 134 games at second base and put up a -3 defensive runs saved rating.
While Utley hit .273 against right handers, he batted just .154 against left handers. He hit better on the road (.281 .809 OPS) then he did at home (.216 .602 OPS). Utley was a decent lead-off batter hitting .264 and getting on base at a .329 clip. He did quite well when runners were in scoring position, posting an .813 OPS and a .276 (24 for 87) batting average. Utley had just a .194 BABIP against left handers compared to a .320 average against right handers. Perhaps some poor batted ball luck contributed to his poor performance against left handers. Utley has a .797 career OPS against left handed pitching.
Despite going just 3 for 16 in the NLDS against Washington, he came up with a huge go-ahead RBI single in game 4 that helped extend the Dodger’s season. He was 0 for 12 in the NLCS against the Cubs, and had just 3 hits overall in the postseason.
Right now Utley is a free agent, and has had some talks with the Dodgers about returning. Maybe the Dodgers could platoon him with Hernandez or Charlie Culberson? With a good history against left handers and a proven postseason track record, Utley might be worth bringing back on another affordable one-year deal. What do you guys think? Should the Dodgers bring back Chase Utley? Please Vote in the poll above.