So you drafted Chase Utley in the second round of your draft expecting the number 1 fantasy second baseman and instead got a guy that you could outproduce using Bill Mueller? Getting some trade offers that have you wondering if you should cut bait and run before getting stuck with Utley's sophomore slump?
Ok...feeling better now? Not yet?
Let me set your mind at ease.
Chase Utley had a great first full season last year. He hit .291/.376/.540 with 28/93/105/16. He also struck out 109 times against 69 walks in 543 at bats. Just a repeat of these numbers would put him near if not at the top of the second baseman list this year.
Rotowire's projections for Chase Utley are even better: .299/.376/.536 with 31/93/103/16 with 106k/68bb in 576 at bats.
So why is Utley hitting so poorly? The answer is simple - he isn't.
Yes, I know he's put up .241/.311/.537 numbers with 4/6/5/0 numbers. Here's the key though - he's struck out 6 times against 5 walks in 54 at bats. Last year his bb/ab ratio was 12.7% while his k/ab ratio was 20.1%. So far this year those ratios are 9.3% and 11.1%. Yes his walks are down about 33% but his strikeouts are down almost 50%!!!
Last year Utley put 406 balls in play and had 130 hits on those balls in play (a .320 clip for BABIP). That's a bit above the league average of .300 but not unreasonably so. This year he has put 44 balls in play for only 9 hits in play (a .225 BABIP)! That's absolutely terrible luck. If we take his BABIP from last year of .320 over those 44 hits we could expect 14 hits in play which along with his 4 hr's to this point would give him 18 hits in his 54 at bats or a .333 average to go along with a .390 obp.
People watching Shelton and Pujols go off on their early season home run march might be disappointed in Utley's 'paltry' 4 hr's. But if you project those 4 hr's over just 543ab's (he'll likely get more than that this year) and the math is simple...he's on a 40 hr pace. Ditto for his doubles - he's on a 40 double pace as well.
Lastly people might point to the fact that Utley has yet to steal a base as a reason for concern. Give him some time. Most players run less in April and it's not like Chase has been on base all that much - only 9 hits that didn't leave the park along with 5 walks. Rotowire projects him to be on base about 240 times this year to get those 16 sb's so that means he averages a stolen base every 15 times on base. Looking at 14 times on base and expecting to see a stolen base already is simple impatience.
So to sum things up - there is NOTHING wrong with Chase Utley. He's still the player that he was last year. In fact he may even be a better player this year. He's even been on base 5 times in 14 plate appearances against left handers (.429 obp).
This would be the perfect guy to try and buy low on but if you have him don't give him up unless you're getting full value. His average will rebound and all of his other numbers are right in line with what they should be right now.