Can Chase Utley Really Lose the World Series and Win the MVP?

↵ ↵Shanoff led off his WUC with the question that many of us were discussing in the stands of Monday's World Series victory for the Phillies – is Chase Utley the World Series MVP? But there's more to the story than just a blog/sports talk/newspaper talking point. There is a legitimate case to be made that the Phillies second basemen – win or lose – should be the World Series MVP. Let's break this down. ↵

↵

↵ ↵

↵

↵First, a little history. Making the claim that a player from the losing team should be World Series MVP is indeed lofty, as only one player in the history of the award – dating back to 1955 – has come from a losing team. That player, of course, is Bobby Richardson. Who is Bobby Richardson, you ask? Well, he was the second baseman for the 1960 New York Yankees, who amassed 12 RBI and hit .367 in a losing effort to the Pittsburgh Pirates. ↵

↵

↵The fact that Utley is playing against the Yankees and Richardson played for the Yankees is nothing more than coincidental. But the fact that Richardson is not just the only player to win from a losing team, but is also the only second baseman to ever win the World Series MVP award could, perhaps, be an omen. And then there's the good Karma in Philadelphia with past playoff MVPs from losing teams – namely Ron Hextall's Conn Smythe in 1987. So is Utley baseball's next Bobby Richardson? Is he Philly's next Hextall? ↵

↵

↵Before we just give Utley this award, we need to be mindful of the fact that his team is down 3-2 heading back to the Bronx and it'd be very tough to give the award to a player whose team won half as many games as they lost. Utley has been spectacular, but if his play only leads to two wins, how valuable could it have been? ↵

↵

↵So with two games left in the World Series (if necessary) let's make the case for who can be the MVP. ↵

↵

↵Chase Utley: Through five games, Utley is batting .333 and slugging a World Series-best 1.222. His OPS is 1.651, has a team-best six runs scored and has eight of the Phillies' 24 runs batted in. Then there's this whole tying Reggie Jackson thing. Utley's five home runs in the Series tied the record that Reggie Jackson set in 1977 with the Yankees. Said Utley after Game Five's win: ↵

↵
↵⇥Obviously it's great company. At some point, not right now, maybe I'll look back on it and see what kind of special moment it is. But right now, our goal is to win two more games. ↵
↵Perhaps the best case for Utley stems from the fact that he has no protection. Ryan Howard, who himself was NLCS MVP, is hitting .158 with one RBI, so there's really no reason the Yankee pitchers should be giving Utley anything to hit right now. If he continues his hot streak against another Yankee lefty in Andy Pettitte – Utley has been torching the other Yankee lefties in this series, including CC Sabathia – he'll make the best case for MVP of anyone. ↵

↵Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod started off the World Series slowly, but has picked up his production in the last few games, adding in some very timely hits. Phillies fans will not soon forget his shot off the wall that plated the eventual winning run in Game Four. He is leading the team in RBIs (six) and extra base hits (four) in the Series. That said, he also has seven strikeouts to just one walk in five games and has played sub-par defense at third base. For A-Rod to win the MVP, he'll need to not only have a big Game Six (and Seven), he'll need to factor in on the game-winning plays. ↵

↵

↵Andy Pettitte: If you were to pick a pitcher who might win the MVP heading into the World Series, you'd think the answer would be CC Sabathia or Mariano Rivera. We'll get to Rivera. But Pettitte has a chance to end this series in Game Six and if he can put together a performance that shuts down the Phillies lineup – most notably Utley and Jayson Werth – he'll have two wins in a six-game series. His numbers in Game Three weren't great, giving up four earned runs in six innings, but he did have seven strikeouts and, most importantly, that victory. Another and he could be holding the trophy. ↵

↵

↵Mariano Rivera: Rivera is an interesting case, as relief pitchers have only been named MVP four times in the World Series. One of those times, obviously, was Rivera's effort in 1999 when had had a win, two saves and 4.2 scoreless innings. In this World Series he has two saves, a two-out appearance that was ostensibly a save and has only given up two hits, let alone any runs. If he gets the save in either Game Six or Seven, he could win. Even without another save, he might be given the award as a lifetime achievement. Nobody would deserve it more. ↵

↵

↵Johnny Damon: Damon has been involved in so many of the Yankee runs, it's hard to count him out of anything. He scored the eventual game-winner in Game Four and has five runs and four RBIs in the Series. He's also tied for the team lead in hits with Derek Jeter but has a better average, slugging percent and OPS than Jeter. While Jeter might be Mr. Clutch, it's Damon that suddenly has Phillies fans more worried. ↵

↵

↵Hideki Matsui: Can a guy who isn't even starting in three of the games in a World Series be considered for MVP? Matsui has five hits in nine at bats and leads the Yankees in home runs (two) and total bases (11). He wouldn't win the award yet, but he'll be back in the lineup in New York, so he's still a dark horse if he has a productive end to the Series. ↵

↵

↵Cliff Lee: If the Phillies do come back to win the World Series, it will be because of Lee as much as anyone. Fans in the stands were upset that Lee came out in the eighth inning of Game Five, not because he had thrown 97 pitches and they were concerned he might be tired, but because they wanted Charlie Manuel to pull him so he could have something left in the tank for Game Seven if they get that far. ↵

↵

↵Yes, Cliff Lee has been so amazing in this playoff season that Phillies fans fully expect him to pitch in Game Seven on two-days rest. It's improbable that Lee, who has never pitched on as little as three-days rest, would be available for a Game Seven. But if he is, and if he pitches a few scoreless frames, he'd have to be a candidate. After all, Lee does have two World Series victories, including a complete game with ten strikeouts and no earned runs. ↵

↵

↵The Field: There isn't much left out there. With a big hit in Game Six the award could go to Jeter. After all, everyone loves the captain and he is batting .364 with eight hits in the series. But he has just one RBI – the run he knocked in late in Game Five came on a totally un-clutch double play – and six strikeouts through five games. ↵

↵

↵If Sabathia wins Game Seven in convincing fashion there's a chance he'd get some votes. But currently he has a loss and a no decision in his two starts. Hardly MVP worthy. On the other side, Werth could be a big factor in the next two games if the Phillies were to win this, especially against solid lefthanders. ↵

↵

↵And if the award was given to the player who walked out to the mound the most times and complained about balls and strikes with the home plate umpire the most, well Jorge Posada's name would already be engraved. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

Latest News

In This Article

Topics
Teams
Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.