List of top 100 performers in the game – MLB 2012 Update - Part 37
73. Chase Utley
Selection of Chase Utley was the toughest one to make throughout the entire list. Utley has produced some magical performances since he made his Major League Baseball debut in 2003. The guy has amazing hitting abilities and his glove work is very neat and tidy as he claimed the 2010 Fielding Bible Award. For his consistent performances, he has been selected for the All Star team five times since 2006.
Not only he possesses high quality batting skills, he is also a great team-mate to have. Showing great composure, mental toughness and determination, he helped Philadelphia Phillies secure memorable wins last season. However, his physical fitness and health has always remained a problem for the Phillies.
In his last two big league seasons, the left handed striker averages only 109 games played. Injuries played a big part in halting his progress in 2011 as he managed to hit only .259/.344/.425, which is well below his career average.
However, considering Utley’s performances for the last few years, it will not be fair to exclude him from the list of top 100 performers all together. His 17.6 WAR is ranked eighth among all hitters since the start of 2009. He performed consistently from 2005-2009 to make a name for himself. Hitting at least 20 home-runs and 90 RBI’s during that period, he achieved an excellent OPS north of .900.
“I've always been taught to play the game hard. Baseball is such a tough game, it really humbles you at times, you just have to try not to get too high or too low. I don’t really like the spotlight,” said Utley in an interview.
“I didn’t go up to the plate thinking, ‘OK, my goal now is to get a hit’—I tried not to think about [the streak]. I figured out that there are occasions where you have to get pumped up and take charge, situations where you have to have fun and situations where you need to settle down,” he further added.
If Utley can improve his health in 2012, he will have a great chance to change the course of his career. Although it will be huge challenge for him, considering his fighting skills, he is likely to turn the tables in the upcoming season. So, it should not be a surprise to anyone if Utley is placed a lot higher on next years’ list of top 100 performers.
74. Brian Wilson
Undoubtedly, Brian Wilson is one of the best closers in the game right now. Right from the start of his Major League Baseball career, he has showed glimpses of his talent but it wasn’t until the second half of 2010 season when he fulfilled his immense potential. Since 2009, the reliever has made 122 saves, which is the second highest behind Heath Bell.
Brian was unable to make the most of available opportunities in the 2011 season as he missed most of the games due to injuries. Even when he returned to the field, he struggled to find his rhythm to post a poor 1.47 WHIP. At the age of 29, Brian still has a lot of baseball left in him. His goal in 2012 will be to stay healthy to get things back on track in the upcoming season.
Continued in Part 38
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