Chase Utley holds the Phillies' chances of repeating a pennant and world championship … well, not in his hand, but in his surgically mended hip pocket. With Utley at full strength, something he really hasn't been since last season's All-Star break at the latest, the Phillies could likely count on another MVP-level performance from the player who averaged .305/.385/.541 from 2005 to 2007. However, November surgery on Utley's right hip has placed his readiness for the 2009 season in doubt, and even if he is ready to start the season, his ability to hit and field up to his previous high standards will remain an unknown.
Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA forecasting tool predicted a .295/.377/.522 season in close to full-time play. This would be roughly consistent with Utley's 2008 performance. However, Utley's is a rare case in which PECOTA is not dealing with a full set of information. It does not "know" about Utley's surgery, an arthroscopic debridement of the labrum, nor the way that the hip injury affected the final tallies from Utley's 2008 season. Having hit .360 with 11 home runs in April, Utley cooled considerably thereafter. Though he was able to maintain his batting average despite his discomfort, his power began to ebb. Utley hit his 31st home run of the season on August 22. Though he would bat .317/.423/.439 in the 33 games remaining in his season, he would hit just two more round-trippers.