Thursday, October 23, 2008

Second To None

Chase Utley could do something no second baseman has done in almost 50 years: become a World Series MVP. Utley’s Game 1 fireworks—2-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2 stolen bases—put him on pace to become the first one since New York’s Bobby Richardson in 1960 against Pittsburgh.

Utley showed no rust after a week off, pounding a 2-2 first-inning pitch into the right-field seats in his first World Series at-bat. He gave the Phillies a lead they’d hold for their first Series win 15 years.

“I don’t think [the layoff] threw off our timing too much,” said Utley.

While Richardson is one target for Utley, past Phillies second basemen are simply low-hanging fruit. In only one game, his chase to match the output of past Phillies second basemen in the World Series is already over when it comes to driving in runs.

There have been six second basemen on the Phillies’ five World Series teams:
1993: Mariano Duncan/Mickey Morandini
1983: Joe Morgan
1980: Manny Trillo
1950: Mike Goliat
1915: Bert Niehoff

Those six combined drove in just seven runs in 26 games. Utley already has as many as Duncan, Trillo, and Morgan each managed. Coincidentally, Morgan opened Game 1 in 1983 much like Utley, going 2-for-4 with a home run.

Of the six, only Duncan came through in the World Series, though, hitting .345 (10-for-29) with 2 RBIs. Morandini (.200), Morgan (.263), Trillo (.217), Goliat (.214), and Niehoff (.063) produced largely forgettable results.

“When you watch Utley day-in and day-out, and the way the guy goes about playing baseball, I think he’s one of the best players in the game,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “His mindset is, I know I’m going to do good.”

Perhaps also worth noting about Richardson and that 1960 Series: His American League team lost to a team from Pennsylvania.

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