Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Utley's Power Outage

The Phillies' crawl toward the playoffs has highlighted a few problems that could await when they get there, in particular the bullpen troubles, and Cliff Lee's inconsistency. But one more question is worth asking: Is something wrong with Chase Utley?

Utley is having the worst month of his career. He has 2 RBI in his last 14 games, just 2 home runs in September--none in his last 17 games--and no multi-RBI games in a calendar month for the first time since 2003, when he played just half of August as a rookie.

After an 0-for-4 game against Houston Tuesday, he's now 3-for-27 in his last seven games with 0 HR and 1 RBI. His numbers have fallen to season lows: .286 average, .402 OBP, .924 OPS (on-base % plus slugging %). It's the first time he's threatened to drop below .400 in OBP all season.

One reason Utley's slide has fallen under the radar: He still leads the team in runs (111), OBP, and OPS. Leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins, with a weak .294 OBP, dreams of "falling" to Utley's .402.

Still, Utley's slippage is reminiscent of his 2008 power outage, when he had a 27-game homer-less streak in August and September, and finished with just 2 HR in September. Utley also needed hip surgery after the season, an injury he played through, but one that contributed to his struggles down the stretch.

So that brings us back to the question: Is something wrong with Chase Utley?

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