“I just want you guys to know I’ve signed a five-year extension here,” Utley said to open the 10-minute press conference.
A great Major League career has been confirmed to end at the completion of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. Chase Utley announced on July 13th, 2018 that his MLB career would be over at the end of the season. The 39-year-old will finish his career after 13-years as a Philadelphia Phillie and 4-years as a Los Angeles Dodgers.
Chase Utley went from a UCLA star to a 15th Overall Draft Pick to a 6-time All-Star and 2008 World Series Champion after making a “late career start” at the age of 24.
Utley made his Major League debut on April 3, 2003, in which he struck out in his first and only at-bat. On April 25th, 2003, Utley garnered his first Major League Start, hit, home run, and grand slam. Utley went on to be a part of 2 Pennants (Phillies 2009 and 2010) and 5 National League Division titles while garnering 4 National League Silver Slugger Awards and 6 All-Star nods (2006-10, 2014).
Utley posted numerous Phillies franchise records such as most sacrifice flies (67), first in stolen base percentage (88.75%), and was the NL leader in stolen base percentage in 2009 (100%). Utley is also 4th All-time in Phillies WAR with 61, 2nd in career WAR among position players, 8th in games (1551), 7th in RBI with 719, 6th in home runs (633), and 5th in doubles (346), all while having the highest War on the team from 2005-2009.
Utley would also play a huge roll in the Phillies’ 2008 World Series Championship. Utley was such a smart and great player outside the stat sheet and that was on full display throughout the series, for example, in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, the game tied 3-3, the Rays threatened with Jason Bartlett on second base and Akinori Iwamura at the plate. Iwamura chopped a 0-1 J.C. Romero fastball to Utley. Utley had been shaded towards first base, and though he just barely got to the ball he had no shot at getting Iwamura. Knowing this, Utley faked a throw to first base, then threw the ball home to catcher Carlos Ruiz who applied the tag to Bartlett to end the Rays’ scoring threat. The Phillies would go on to take the lead and win their first World Series since 1980. If you had to sum up Chase Utley’s career in one play, that may have been it.
“I transitioned to a part-time player, something new for me, but I took it in stride,” said Utley. “Also, a part-time strength coach, part-time pitching coach, occasionally part-time catching coach as well as a part-time general manager. The thing I’m having the most difficult time with is being a part-time dad. So that’s really the reason I’m shutting it down. I’m ready to be a full-time dad.”
“Going from making several All-Star teams to being a part-time player kind of wrenches your pride a little bit,” Utley said on his time with the Dodgers. “My goal, the reason I came here, was to win a championship. I didn’t want to get in the way of that. If I’m part of it, great. If not, I’m still happy.”
Utley said he has “enjoyed every second” with the Los Angeles Dodgers because of the way he was accepted by teammates and staff.
In Utley’s 16-years in The Show, Chase has hit .276 with 259 home runs, 1,025 RBIs, 4 Silver Slugger Awards and has garnered a reputation as one of the greatest clubhouse presences in baseball. In 57 games this year, he’s hitting .231 with 1 homer and 14 RBIs. He started on Thursday night and went 0-for-1 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. Utley is aware of his recent poor numbers, but stated that his decision is mainly for his family.
“I’m no spring chicken,” Utley said. “There’s a lot of things letting me know it’s time. The main reason is to spend time with my family.”
In his Major League Career, Utley has garnered an immense amount of respect from his contemporaries and is seen as a father figure by many of his teammates.
“For me, this is a no-brainer Hall of Famer,” said Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, who traded for Chase Utley in 2015. “Doing this now, Chase wanted to be able to focus on helping the 2018 Dodgers win a World Series. There’s nothing that would cement his Hall of Fame candidacy more than that.”
“He adopted me,” said Hernandez. “One of the reasons he said he was retiring was to spend more time with me.”
Dave Roberts has also been heard calling Utley “probably the most well-respected guy in our clubhouse.”
It is always sad to see a great career end, almost like a good book that you never want to end, but know it will be over at some point, but it is nice to see Utley go out in the sun. While he may be retiring after this season, it isn’t over. Nope, in 5-years, we’ll be discussing his Hall of Fame case and whether or not he is worthy of having his name in bronze in Cooperstown.