2011 MLB: Why Chase Utley Means More To the Phillies than Ryan Howard

January 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

For most teams, reaching the 2011 National League Championship Series would be considered a successful season but not for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies have won their division in four-straight seasons and appeared in two consecutive World Series, and anything but a World Series championship is a failure.

Looking back on the 2010 season, it is surprising the Phillies even made it that far. Plagued by injuries and inconsistency, the postseason in general was in doubt in Philadelphia. Two of those injuries, in particular, really crippled the Phillies’ offense.

On Jun. 29, 2010, the injury bug struck Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. While sliding headfirst into second base, Utley caught his thumb on the bag while the weight of his body pulled against it.

Though he stayed in the game, it was later revealed that Utley’s thumb had torn ligaments and that he would miss six to eight weeks after surgery.

In the Utley way, though, he returned sooner than anticipated, but his swing suffered. Though he finished with a strong September, Utley hit just .208 in the month of August. Like most of the Phillies, he struggled through the postseason and will be fully healthy come spring training.

A little over a month after Utley’s injury, first baseman Ryan Howard hit the disabled list as well.

In a game against the Washington Nationals, Howard was late rounding second base on his way to third, and in an attempt to get back to the base, rolled his ankle over the bag.

In a report from earlier this month, the ankle still has not healed entirely. Though he returned for the final month of the season and the postseason and had some success, his trademark power was noticeably absent come October.

With pitchers and catchers set to report for spring training in just over two weeks, Howard’s health is still in the air.

Even still, both Utley and Howard will report to camp ready to play baseball, and if the Phillies are going to reach their third World Series in the last four seasons, those two men are going to have to have seasons they are accustomed to having.

Still, that leaves us to wonder — if the Phillies want to win the World Series in 2011, whose resurgence is going to mean more to the team? The next few slides will explain why Utley is going to be an absolute necessity if the Phillies’ offense is going to get back on track this season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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