Chase Utley: Knee Injury Still a Concern?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 07: Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a single in the bottom of the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Divisional Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 7, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Sunday brought some news out of Philadelphia regarding second baseman Chase Utley, and his knee that apparently is still giving him problems. Here is Bob Brookover from the Philadelphia Inquirer, with quotes from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro:

Second baseman Chase Utley will be 33 next season and missed the first 45 games in 2011 because of patellar tendinitis in his knee. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. concedes it is not magically going to disappear.

"I don't know if it's behind him," Amaro said. "Is he going to be a 30-home run, 110-RBI guy and hit .300? I don't know that. I hope he is. That will help us. Whatever we get out of Chase is going to help us. I know he is going to strive to get to the point where he can maximize his numbers and his production."

I agree with Amaro's quotes here, as Utley probably won't be the 30 HR, .300 BA hitter fantasy owners have grown accustomed to in the past. Utley hit .259-.344-.425 with 11 HRs, 44 RBI, 54 runs and 14 stolen bases in 398 at bats this season.

For a second baseman, his 2011 stats, in little more than half the season, is not bad, but for Chase Utley, they are slightly disappointing, especially in the power and BA categories. If his knee is still bothering him, it certainly doesn't bother him on the base paths.

More on Utley after the jump:

But the bigger concern, for fantasy owners, is his drop in power, and the affect that his knee will have on his power going forward. I wrote this about Utley in my review of my second base rankings recently:

Utley will be 33 years old in December, and his power has dropped in each of the last 3 years. Here is his ISO/SLG trend:

2008 - .244/.545

2009 - .226/.508

2010 - .169/.445

2011 - .166/.425

So what can fantasy owners expect from Utley in 2012? I will put a conservative projection out there for a .275 BA, 16 HRs, 70 RBI, 85 runs and 15 SBs. Not bad for a second baseman, but he is no longer a first round pick, nor is he the top fantasy second baseman anymore. I think I would rank Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, and Ian Kinsler ahead of him in 2012, but that could change as the offseason leads us into spring training.

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