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The Phillies' golden era has been over for quite some time but this month sure felt like the final chapter, with Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley all announcing their retirements.

Utley will play out the rest of this season, but the conversation quickly shifts to his Hall of Fame candidacy. 

I'm assuming a good number of Phillies fans will disagree, but in my opinion, Utley's résumé falls just short. His peak just wasn't long enough.

From 2005-10, Utley was an incredible all-around baseball player. He hit for average, hit for power, took his walks, was the sport's most savvy and efficient base runner, and he had above average range at second base.

That six-year peak can be put up against the peak of any second baseman in baseball history. The postseason successes and Utley's legendary work ethic only add to it.

But you can't be selective about these things. When acknowledging Utley's magnificent peak, you must also account for the mediocre second half of his career.

From 2011-14, Utley's last full season as a Phillie, he hit .269/.347/.433 and missed 176 games. Decent numbers, but not Utley at his peak. From 2015-18, he's hit .235/.310/.377 as a part-time player.

All in all, Utley's OPS has been league average over his last 3,500 plate appearances. You just can't dismiss that.

I brought this up Friday on Twitter and one of the replies was that a five-year run was good enough for Sandy Koufax to make it. But Koufax had maybe the best five-year run of any starting pitcher ever, going 111-34 with a 1.95 ERA and 0.93 WHIP and three Cy Young awards in his final five seasons. 


If Utley had a bonkers run like that with a couple MVP awards, this is a different conversation.

One determinant I like to use with the Hall of Fame is "Can the story of baseball be told without this player?" Because of his peak, the Phillies' 2008 World Series and his record-setting '09 World Series, the story of baseball cannot be told without Utley.

And yet it still feels like he'll fall just short.

Longtime statistician Bill James has a formula called the Hall of Fame Monitor, which weighs different career stats to measure a player's likelihood of making the HOF. A score of 100 is seen as a likely Hall of Famer. Utley is at 94. 

That feels about right. Very, very, very good career, and one that means more to Philadelphians than it does to anybody anywhere else.

Utley just wasn't that same dynamic player over a long enough portion of his career. The serious knee injuries were the major reason why. Without them, we might be talking about a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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