2007 - .296 Avg, 30 HR, 94 RBI, .875 OPS
2008 - .277 Avg, 11 HR, 59 RBI, .786 OPS
2009 - .250 Avg, 21 HR, 77 RBI, .719 OPS
2010 - .243 Avg, 8 HR, 41 RBI, .694 OPS
2011 Salary - $8.5 million (free agent after 2011)
Age - 32
A Phillies optimist would look at Rollins’ 2010 season and point out how great he started (9 hits in first 7 games), how much time is spent injured (74 games missed) and conclude that it is was one of those unfortunate lost seasons, a fluky thing that happens to best of them, like Josh Hamilton in 2009 or Ken Griffey in 1995.
I’m not so optimistic.
Even if you discount 2010 as a fluke season marred by injuries, his overall numbers still were decreasing in the previous two years. And Young James just isn’t that young anymore. Can you think of a 32 year old shortstop who improved his numbers after three consecutive down years? Don’t bother, there isn’t one. The closest example would be Cal Ripken, who had a real bad year in 1992 (age 31) following his MVP in 1993 but then was top 20 in MVP voting in 1994. The reality is, once middle infielders start aging and posting OPS’ of around .700, the offensive numbers generally don’t rebound. The defensive abilities often remain and these type of players can still be quite valuable (see: Edgar Renteria) but to expect anything close to 2007 ever again is foolish. My prediction:
.265, 13 HR, 59 RBI, .745 OPS, 30 games missed due to injury
2007 - .332 Avg, 22 HR, 103 RBI, .976 OPS
2008 - .292 Avg, 33 HR, 104 RBI, .915 OPS
2009 - .282 Avg, 31 HR, 93 RBI, .905 OPS
2010 - .275 Avg, 16 HR, 65 RBI, .832 OPS
2011 Salary – $15 million
Age – 32
See any trends in the above statistics? Average, homers, RBIs and OPS are all going down. Injuries? Fatigue? Dare is say, declining skills? Whatever the reason, the trend is real and it follows the same pattern of Jimmy Rollins, who is the same age. However, I see Utley’s 2011 going significantly better than J-Roll’s.
While Utley’s numbers are declining, if you extrapolate his worst ever full season, the injury plagued 2010, his numbers would only be slightly worse than J-Roll’s MVP season of 2007. Basically, less than expected from Utley is still better than most because he’s that good. Also, his decline is relative. Look at the 2009 season from above. That is still a terrific, All-Star caliber season.
Utley’s been pretty beat up at the end of the last few seasons. I’m hoping Fuqua gives him a few more days off this year. If so, his power numbers may dip slightly. But other than that, I’m expecting Utley to rake. My prediction:
.291, 24 HR, 94 RBI, .902 OPS