What happened in 2016: Started the season strong but faded pretty noticeably down the stretch.
Chase Utley came to the Dodgers at the 2015 trade deadline and signed with them as a free agent during the offseason. Brim did a good job recapping Utley’s 2016 in his post about the Dodgers re-signing the veteran this offseason (oops, spoiler alert for 2017 status):
Utley played regularly last season, and on the full-season balance he did pretty well, hitting .252/.319/.396 (97 wRC+) in 565 plate appearances. He put up exactly 2 fWAR, which probably overrated his defense, but he had a very respectable season as a whole. However, Utley’s production faded quite badly as the year wore on. From June 1st onward, he hit just .236/.292/.381 (83 wRC+). For most players, it would be best to look at the full season performance as being the most indicative number going forward. However, Utley just turned 38, and it’s fair to wonder if his age caught up to him by the end of the season.
Since Brim pretty much already did my work for me, let’s use this season review to focus on some of Utley’s more notable moments — and there were plenty.
On May 27, the Dodgers played the Mets in New York. Mets fans, still not over what happened with Ruben Tejada in the 2015 NLDS, predictably gave Utley a hard time. Utley responded by doubling with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th to tie the game, 5-5. It was pretty effective trolling (although it would have been more effective had the Dodgers not subsequently lost that game on a Curtis Granderson walkoff home run).
The next day, Noah Syndergaard got himself ejected in the third inning for throwing at (well, behind) Utley. Utley later drove in the game’s first run with a solo shot in the top of the sixth, much to the chagrin of the Citi Field crowd. He wasn’t done, either. The next inning, Utley came up with the bases loaded. This time, he hit it out for a grand slam.
Now that is effective trolling.
On July 6, the Dodgers lost to the Orioles, 6-4, in 14 innings, despite Utley’s best efforts. Utley went 6-for-7 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and a total of eight bases.
On August 16, Utley played his first game at Citizens Bank Park as a former Phillie, and man did he remain beloved there. Coming to the plate for his first at bat, he received a nearly 90-second long standing ovation. Utley proceeded to go 2-for-4 with two home runs (one of which was a grand slam) and a walk, as the Dodgers routed the Phillies, 15-5.
Utley also made a ton of great defensive plays throughout the 2016 season. Here’s just a few of those:
The man is surprisingly nimble for his age.
Unfortunately, Utley did not have a very productive postseason. He went 3-for-16 in the NLDS, and 0-for-12 in the NLCS.
2017 status: Reported to be re-signing with the Dodgers for one year and $2 million (plus incentives). As Brim notes in the article linked above, the acquisition of Logan Forsythe means Utley will be relegated to the role of backup second baseman/lefty bat off the bench.