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Comparing NL East 2nd Basemen with Chase Utley


If you haven’t yet already, take a minute to read my first post, which featured first basemen. In this second edition of the series, we will be discussing second base.  As a recap, the series is focused on breaking down the NL East, position by position, analyzing the players’ past performance, injecting speculation, and ultimately ranking each player to determine what team has the best at each position.  Looking at the competition across the NL East should give us a good feel of how the Phillies will fair this year.  As always, your feedback and comments are welcomed and appreciated.  


Now, let’s turn our attention to positional matchups – who is the best second baseman and where and how do the Phillies match up?  Below is a chart with each team’s perspective starters and selected stats from 2012.  (Note:  The players are listed below in order from best (top) to worst (bottom).



Table 1: *Player’s first full year in the majors


In the NL East, second base is not beset with talent.  When healthy, Chase Utley is far and away the best of the bunch. The trouble is, Utley has not been healthy for two years but optimism has been the consensus this spring.  All signs coming out of spring training have reflected positively on Utley’s new off-season regimen to control his chronic knee pain. He has played consistently and elicited praise for looking like the Utley of old.  This is also a contract year for Utley and his ability to stay healthy, combined with proving he is still a juggernaut at the plate, will go a long way in determining whether or not Chase ends his career in Philly. Utley’s fierce competitive nature will also force Charlie Manuel to be both strong and assertive wPhoto: Kathy Willen/APhile planning a reasonable rest schedule to help protect his veteran second baseman.  


Many people are fans of Washington’s Danny Espinosa and believe that he should be considered the top second baseman of the NL East.  It is true that he scores runs, is relatively disruptive on the base path, and has a touch of power. However,  he also hardly walks, strikes out a ton, and has a meager on base percentage. The fact that he hits seventh in the lineup tells you that his own manager doesn’t consider him to be a top of the order talent.


This also helps explain why he is seated third behind Dan Uggla. Uggla will most likely bat sixth for the Braves, who have several players who can crack the ball out of the park.  He will be expected to continue the power surge started by the likes of Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and the Upton Brothers.  He has, however, battled injuries in the past, is 33, and has an atrocious average.  Uggla might be the most likely to fall to the bottom of this list by year’s end.  

Daniel Murphy is a professional hitter.  He puts wood on white consistently, walks often, and strikes out little.  He doesn’t possess elite power or speed but is solid at what he does.  He is 28 years old and will most likely bat second for the Mets. His numbers could improve a bit this year as he is in the midst of his prime but the Mets lineup in total will limit his production overall.  


At the bottom of the second base pile is Donovan Solano. This is mostly due to the fact that Solano is entering his first full year in the majors.  He will have the chance to build on solid rookie numbers batting from the six spot in the Marlins’ lineup.  He is an unknown at this point but posted a solid average and on base percentage when he was given the opportunity in 2012.      


Be sure to read and react to all of the position primers.  Next up: Shortstop.  


Let’s go Phils!


Chris Sweeney is a freelance writer and philly2philly.com contributor.  He grew up in Bucks County, played Division 2 basketball at East Stroudsburg University where he became interested in the media when he hosted a night time radio show.  He left ESU to join the Air Force, which he served in for five years (including 1 Middle Eastern Tour).  Chris was bred to be a passionate Philadelphia Sports fan and enjoys everything that the Philly sports scene has to offer (the competition, the news articles, the books, and talk radio).  He now resides in New Jersey with his wife and five children.

 You can reach him at christopher_sweeney_02@yahoo.com   

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Utley photo: Kathy Willens/AP