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Monday, May 23, 2011

Opening Day, Part Deux

At long last Chase Utley is making his season debut tonight, batting second in the lineup behind Jimmy Rollins. Finally, Phillies fans can stop wondering if the offense will turn around when Utley returns and start finding out. I’ve always said Utley is the key to this most recent era of Phillies baseball, but no one really knows what he will be coming back from a knee injury that will have to be managed for the rest of his career.

In my opinion the most telling stat in measuring Utley’s impact this season will be the Phillies average runs per game. They currently rank 12th in the National League, which seems incredibly high after the last couple of weeks, with 3.8 runs per game.

Obviously, there will be plenty of other factors that play a role in whether or not that number improves (or gets worse), and this is a major simplification. But it’s a safe bet that if Utley is anything close to his old self that number will be significantly higher by September.

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