Friday, January 20, 2012

Anatomy of an Underrated Player

Over the past seven seasons, Albert Pujols has been, by far, the best position player in baseball.  That should be no surprise to anyone with some sort of baseball knowledge.  While the experienced sabermetric crowd knows who #2 is, this player exhibits many skills that are vastly underrated by the mainstream media.  He's also not the great 5x5 fantasy type.  The only major category he's ever led the league in is runs scored one season.

Chase Utley has never been widely regarded as the best player on the Phillies, with stat-stuffers Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins around.  He isn't that big (6'1", 200), fast, nor does he possess the strongest arm.  His 173 HR are tied for 21st in the majors during that span, his 104 SB are tied for 37th, and his 616 RBI are 18th.  He's never finished higher than 7th in the MVP voting.  His walk rate is right at 10%, which is good but not great.  His knees and hip have caused him to miss over 100 games the past two seasons.

That being said, he uses his talent to the fullest.  2B and 3B are not generally considered premium positions, even though they have positive positional adjustments in WAR.  He plays 2B as well as anyone, with most of his value coming from range.  Without the great speed, it's all instinct for Utley.  Instincts also come into play in baserunning.  His 104 steals have only been accompanied by 12 CS, a nearly 90% success rate.  That's at least 15 less outs he's made than the average base stealer.  He has extremely quick hands, which allows him to crowd the plate, also resulting in 131 HBP, leading the league from '07-'09.  The last underrated stat is doubles, where Utley is tied for 16th since 2005.  Finally, add in his very unassuming personality and you have quite the underrated, and possibly future HOF, player.

1 comment:

  1. [...] fewest PA of any position player on the team, Utley makes up for the lack of playing time with a great all-around game.   Both he and Jeff Kent produced just shy of 40 WAR, but Utley gets the nod for doing it in 1500 [...]