Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE
Through all the injuries, Utley has shown very little decline in his on-field performance heading into his mid-30's.
When discussing the best players in the game, an all-around skillset is present for most on the list. You think of players like Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen, and other power/speed guys. To show some of these players, let's look at a list of players who fit the bill offensively, defensively, and on the bases. Here are all the players who had at least a 110 wRC+, +2 UZR, and +2 Baserunning total each of the last two seasons, minimum 200 PA:
... and that's it.
It's amazing that, despite all of his knee and hip troubles the past two seasons, Utley has been able to perform at a high level, even in athleticism skills. Among players with at least 750 PA the past two seasons, his 5.74 fWAR/650 PA is 23rd in the majors, fifth among second basemen.
The surprisingly optimistic part of this is his poor BABIP luck over the two seasons. Well, his first season was clouded by a 12.7% line drive rate, but the BABIP went further down when his LD% rebounded last year. With just the expected BABIP regression, he should add a win to his value offensively. There's also a good chance some more of his power will return being healthy from day one of spring training.
Obviously, this doesn't mean Utley is the best all-around player in the league, as defensive and baserunning metrics are notoriously volatile year-to-year. Mike Trout obliterated all those totals as a rookie, while Alex Gordon, Brandon Phillips, and many others averaged those parameters over the two seasons.
Everyone is talking about Robinson Cano being the big position player available in the free agent market next winter, and rightfully so. However, with the Phillies already having over $100M committed to only six players next season, Utley may be the odd man out if Philadelphia does not rebound in 2013. If he enters the free agent market at age 35, he won't get the years that Cano will, but with a good season could command a couple high-priced seasons on his next contract.