Weekly fantasy baseball league news: Utley’s frustrating campaign

January 30, 2011
Fantasy Baseball
by Skyco

Since 2005, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has been the top performer at his position in weekly fantasy baseball leagues. In the last five seasons, he has averaged 29 homers, 101 runs batted in, 111 runs scored and 15 stolen bases per campaign. The 31-year-old is a .294 career hitter. However, the 2010 season has been marked by some frustration for Utley. In the first half of the year, all of Utley’s key numbers were down from his career averages.

In 72 games, he hit 11 homers while driving in 37 runs. He was able to score 49 runs but his batting average was a sub par .277 in 264 official at-bats. Still, a player of Utley’s ability figured to turn things around in the second half of the season. Unfortunately, Utley won’t get that opportunity for several weeks. After suffering a right thumb injury in late June, he will be on the shelf until September.

The injury is a major blow to the Phillies and weekly fantasy baseball league owners that count on Utley’s strong bat. Most of the season, Philadelphia’s usually potent lineup has been a disappointment. Since starting the year 24-13, the two-time defending National League champions are just 24-31 in its last 55 outings. Through July 19th, the Phils are six games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Philadelphia ranks 12th in the league in team batting average at .255. The Phillies are hoping to still be in the playoff chase by the time Utley returns to the lineup.

His primary replacement, journeyman Wilson Valdez, hasn’t provided much offense for his club or weekly fantasy baseball league owners seeking a replacement for Utley. Valdez ranks about 45th among fantasy second basemen. In contrast, Utley ranks about 10th in the rankings. The 32-year-old Valdez has been a reserve middle infielder for most of his career. He has fared better with his glove than as a hitter. Entering the 2010 season, Valdez had only one career home run in over 300 at-bats.

With some more consistent playing time since Utley’s injury, he has managed to club four homers in just under 200 at-bats. Still, his numbers aren’t in the neighborhood of what Utley produces on a yearly basis. Until Utley returns to action, fantasy owners will have to show some patience. While there aren’t too many great options beyond Valdez that could be obtained in a reasonable manner, weekly fantasy baseball league owners should keep a close eye on some other second sackers that could emerge in the next few weeks.

So Utley is someone to avoid in your Daily Fantasy Baseball leagues at www.fantasyfactor.com . The Home of Daily and Weekly Fantasy leagues.

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