|Point/Counterpoint: Best Player in National League East|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on July 03, 2009
The NL East features many superstars, like Ryan Howard, Hanley Ramirez, Chipper Jones, Carlos Beltran or Jose Reyes, but Jonathan Leshanski and Adam Adkins have two other players in mind when they discuss who is the best player in the division. Check out the lastest edition of At Home Plate's Point-Counterpoint.
The Wright Choice
That is if you find a .340 average with 20 steals to be a tough season. Those two rather impressive stats go with some solid, if not remarkable, other numbers -- five home runs, 42 RBIs and 49 runs scored. If you haven't guessed already the player, I am talking about the Mets' David Wright.
Some might think I'm being a bit crazy here. After all Wright has been suffering from an extreme lack of power this season. That might not be as inexplicable as some people seem to think. After all the Mets are playing half their games in Citi Field, which has played as one of the least power friendly parks in the Majors.
The other possibility is that Wright is playing injured. That would be a very David Wright kind of thing to do -- especially considering that Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are all missing from the lineup. That meant that someone had to shoulder the burden of trying to keep the Mets in contention and carry the team.
That's David Wright all over, a Gold Glove third baseman who was thrust into the role of team leader before he was even 24. Wright is the Mets' cornerstone, something you can't say about Utley, a man who while ubertalented isn't the key man for his team.
You could argue that Hanley Ramirez fills that role for the Marlins, but will Ramirez be a cornerstone of the Marlins for years to come? The odds are against it; the Marlins won't keep Ramirez when it comes time for free agency. No, Hanley will head off to Boston or New York or LA or maybe even Chicago. He's not a cornerstone player. He can't be for the Marlins, although he has all the tools.
Last year their numbers were both impressive -- Hanley went .301-33-67-125-35 while Wright posted a .302-33-124-115-15 season. Close enough, to call it a coin toss. This year the numbers almost look like they could be flopped. Hanley seems poised to get more RBIs and more home runs, while Wright looks more likely to finish with far more stolen bases. In fact Wright ranks seventh in the Majors in steals, and the only infielder in baseball with more steals in the Angels' Chone Figgins.
But what is more valuable to a team? Steals or home runs? Steals are statistically rarer, but home runs drive in more batters. So how do you judge? Maybe by the team they are on. And the Mets need David Wright now more then ever and for his whole career. You won't be able to say that about Hanley.
Chase Utley IS the Man
"Chase Utley, you are the man!"
-Harry Kalas, of blessed memory
There's a reason why Joe Morgan said that Chase may end up being the greatest hitting second baseman ever. Because he will be! No one does it better than Chase, who as of July 1, was batting .304 with 17 HR and 52 RBI. But why should anyone is surprised by these numbers? Chase is Mr. Consistent; last year, he finished with a batting average of .292 with 33 HR.
I could go on all day about his numbers, but there's more to Chase's game. Hustle, dedication and his cool, calm demeanor are other aspects of Utley's game which makes him such a dynamic player.
Harry Kalas was right: Chase Utley is the man.
But not only because of his home runs and clutch hits. I think it's safe to say that most Phillies fans wish he even showed a bit more emotion and character. However, no one really gives a damn about that with his production and attitude. But let's be real: Chase Utley is not just the man because of his gaudy statistics. There's more than that. His World Series play where he threw out Jason Bartlett to preserve the lead. The pure hustle and energy he possesses. Playing the stretch run of the 2008 season with an injury identical to the one that has Brett Myers sidelined for the rest of the year. All of this epitomizes our Chase. Busting down the line on every routine groundball -- this defines a true warrior and MVP, not just the stats.
It's the bottom of the ninth. Two outs and bases loaded, we're down by 2. Who does every Phillies fan want to bat at this moment? That's right, Chase.