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Thread: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

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    Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Thoughts?

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    I think Morgan has the edge on defense, but other than that, yes.
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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    I think he has a shot to come close, but he'll fall short both in career value and peak value.

    If you want a guage of how dominant Morgan was for how long, take Utley's career and stretch it out an additional 11 full seasons at the same rate of production. That will give you Morgan's career. Utley may be able to match Morgan's career rate of production for a bit, but I'm betting his decline phase would take him below Morgan. Plus, I'm doubting Utley has an additional 1,750 games left in him since he'll be 31-years-old in two months.

    As for career value, I expect Utley to put up a few really great seasons ... but I don't expect him to touch Morgan of 1975-1976 (or for that matter, Morgan's five year stretch from 1972-1976).

    Among historical second basemen, I think Charlie Gehringer may be the closest comp to Utley in terms of overall production, though it wouldn't shock me if Utley passes Gehringer in the process.
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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Well, it depends.... how is good defined?

    If you mean peak value- I'd argue no way. Morgan was a freak.

    If you mean value over their careers, Utley has a chance depending upon how he ages.

    Here's a comparison based upon WAR over similar ages:

    Code:
    Morgan				Utley		
    year	age	WAR		year	age	WAR
    1970	26	4		2004	25	1.3
    1971	27	5.4		2005	26	7.4
    1972	28	10		2006	27	6.8
    1973	29	10.1		2007	28	8
    1974	30	8.8		2008	29	8.1
    1975	31	11.8		2009	30	7.7
    1976	32	9.9				
    1977	33	6.1				
    1978	34	1.6
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    Well, it depends.... how is good defined?

    If you mean peak value- I'd argue no way. Morgan was a freak.

    If you mean value over their careers, Utley has a chance depending upon how he ages.

    Here's a comparison based upon WAR over similar ages:

    Code:
    Morgan				Utley		
    year	age	WAR		year	age	WAR
    1970	26	4		2004	25	1.3
    1971	27	5.4		2005	26	7.4
    1972	28	10		2006	27	6.8
    1973	29	10.1		2007	28	8
    1974	30	8.8		2008	29	8.1
    1975	31	11.8		2009	30	7.7
    1976	32	9.9				
    1977	33	6.1				
    1978	34	1.6
    Definitely value over career.

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    In a word, no.
    Utley's stats have been helped by playing in a more run friendly environment that Morgan enjoyed. Utley is not as great an offensive force as Moragn was in his prime, nor is Utley a five time Gold Glove defensive player.
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    Definitely value over career.
    well, no. Not even close.

    jojo's comparison starts at the age of 26. Before the age of 26 Utely had 420 below average at bats and Joe Morgan had three FULL seasons where he put a 130 OPS+ over 500 or more at bats in each of those season. Plus another season where he put up a 110 and a couple of injury type season.

    Utely isn't going to make that up at the other end either. Morgan aged exceptionally well.

    I guess anything is possible, but the odds aren't close to good.
    Last edited by dfs; 10-12-2009 at 12:44 PM.
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Before reading this thread, my knee-jerk reaction was yes. Maybe.

    After reading, I can absolutely say there is little chance of utley being close to Morgan either in terms of top seasons or career value.
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    In a word, no.
    Utley's stats have been helped by playing in a more run friendly environment that Morgan enjoyed. Utley is not as great an offensive force as Moragn was in his prime, nor is Utley a five time Gold Glove defensive player.
    At the same time, you could argue that Utley plays in a much tougher league now than Morgan did when he played. The pitching is definitely better now then was back then.

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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by dfs View Post
    well, no. Not even close.

    jojo's comparison starts at the age of 26. Before the age of 26 Utely had 420 below average at bats and Joe Morgan had three FULL seasons where he put a 130 OPS+ over 500 or more at bats in each of those season. Plus another season where he put up a 110 and a couple of injury type season.

    Utely isn't going to make that up at the other end either. Morgan aged exceptionally well.

    I guess anything is possible, but the odds aren't close to good.
    I think you might be selling Utley short. I think he has a strong chance at aging quite well and being more productive later in his career than Morgan was.

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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    I think you might be selling Utley short. I think he has a strong chance at aging quite well and being more productive later in his career than Morgan was.
    You may be right. But Joe was a good player at 39 and league average at 40. Joe didn't lose any time to wartime service. He didn't lose any years to injury. He never really had a bad year. By OPS+ a bad year for Joe Morgan would have been pretty much the year that Brandon Phillips has been putting up the last couple of years. (That's sick, but it's true.) In order to make up those extra four years Utely will have to, not only match little joe year for year during his peak, but also have four good years after his age 40 season.

    How many guys have four good season left in them after the age of 40?

    Molitor didbn't. Heck, Pete didn't. Honus Wagner is revered for how good he was as an older player and he didn't have four full good seasons after the age of 40.

    Julio Franco...There we go...Julio Franco had four good years after his age 40 season. Of course the kicker is that although they were good season,little Joe's early years were still better.

    Maybe there's somebody else. Maybe if legal problems had not caught up to Bonds. ...That's the kind of generational talent that Morgan was and it's not meant as a slam against Utely. Utley is a fine player. Morgan was unreal.

    Corrections are always welcome.
    Last edited by dfs; 10-12-2009 at 01:10 PM.
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by dfs View Post
    You may be right. But Joe was a good player at 39 and league average at 40. Joe didn't lose any time to wartime service. He didn't lose any years to injury. He never really had a bad year. By OPS+ a bad year for Joe Morgan would have been pretty much the year that Brandon Phillips has been putting up the last couple of years. (That's sick, but it's true.) In order to make up those extra four years Utely will have to, not only match little joe year for year during his peak, but also have four good years after his age 40 season.

    How many guys have four good season left in them after the age of 40?

    Molitor didbn't. Heck, Pete didn't. Honus Wagner is revered for how good he was as an older player and he didn't have four full good seasons after the age of 40.

    Julio Franco...There we go...Julio Franco had four good years after his age 40 season. Of course the kicker is that although they were good season,little Joe's early years were still better.

    Maybe there's somebody else. Corrections are always welcome.

    That's not meant as a slam against Utely. Utley is a fine player. Morgan was unreal.
    I don't think that Utley has to have 4 good seasons past 40 to be better than Morgan. I think he just has to be better than Morgan was in his mid to late 30's to make up the difference lost in his 20's.

    Will he do that? No way of knowing, but he's been pretty awesome thus far.

    And so it's clear, I like Morgan more than Utley, just thought it would make for an interesting discussion.

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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    At the same time, you could argue that Utley plays in a much tougher league now than Morgan did when he played. The pitching is definitely better now then was back then.
    Maybe pitching is better now than it was back in Morgan's prime years, but definitely better? What evidence to you have to support that statement?
    I realize that there is an argument that the quality of play has improved over time, which does give some basis to rate current players over those who played decades ago--it is an argument, but not one that I believe has been absolutely proven. Apart from that, what evidence is there that pitching is definitely better now than it was in, say, the mid-1970s?
    In Joe Morgan's two MVP seasons of 1975 and 1976, the NL team average ERA were 3.63 and 3.98; in 2008 and 2009 the NL avearge team ERAs were 4.49 and 4.63. That doesn't really prove much other than support the argument that this is a more offensive friendly era.
    However, I then looked at the pitching staffs Morgan batted against in those years. The Mets featured Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack and Jerry Koosman. The Phillies had Steve Carlton, Jim Kaat and Jim Lonborg. The Dodgers had Tommy John and Don Sutton. The Astros had J.R. Richard, Joaquin Andujar and Joe Niekro. The Braves had Phil Niekro. The Pirates had John Candelaria and Jerry Reuss. The Padres had Randy Jones. The Expos had Steve Rogers. That is a lot of quality starters, a lot of 20 game winners and Cy Young award winners, and includes four Hall of Famers plus two other pitchers who won more than 280 games in their careers. It is also a lot of tough southpaws.
    If anything, pitching may have been even tougher when Morgan started his major league career in the 1960s. The starters then included Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, and Don Drysdale, all future Hall of Famers, all at their peaks.
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    I don't think that Utley has to have 4 good seasons past 40 to be better than Morgan. I think he just has to be better than Morgan was in his mid to late 30's to make up the difference lost in his 20's.

    Will he do that? No way of knowing, but he's been pretty awesome thus far.

    And so it's clear, I like Morgan more than Utley, just thought it would make for an interesting discussion.
    I guess the easy way to put it is that by WAR Joe Morgan is currently the 19th most valuable baseball player to ever put on a uniform. He rates well above guys like Ripken, Brett or Yaz. They guys who are better than Morgan can mostly be recognized on a first name basis...Babe, Honus, Ty, Tris, Stan, Rickey and Mickey....those kind of players. Joe is likely to be passed in the next 3 years by Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez was in the majors at 18. Morgan was in the majors at 19. Utely didn't get started till he was 26. In the realm of ...is anything possible...sure Utely can catch Morgan, but it's not a bet anybody with any sense is going to propose.


    Albert Pujols.....Alpert Pujols might stand a chance at catching little joe in WAR.
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    Re: Can Chase Utley be as good as Joe Morgan was?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    Maybe pitching is better now than it was back in Morgan's prime years, but definitely better? What evidence to you have to support that statement?
    I realize that there is an argument that the quality of play has improved over time, which does give some basis to rate current players over those who played decades ago--it is an argument, but not one that I believe has been absolutely proven. Apart from that, what evidence is there that pitching is definitely better now than it was in, say, the mid-1970s?
    In Joe Morgan's two MVP seasons of 1975 and 1976, the NL team average ERA were 3.63 and 3.98; in 2008 and 2009 the NL avearge team ERAs were 4.49 and 4.63. That doesn't really prove much other than support the argument that this is a more offensive friendly era.
    However, I then looked at the pitching staffs Morgan batted against in those years. The Mets featured Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack and Jerry Koosman. The Phillies had Steve Carlton, Jim Kaat and Jim Lonborg. The Dodgers had Tommy John and Don Sutton. The Astros had J.R. Richard, Joaquin Andujar and Joe Niekro. The Braves had Phil Niekro. The Pirates had John Candelaria and Jerry Reuss. The Padres had Randy Jones. The Expos had Steve Rogers. That is a lot of quality starters, a lot of 20 game winners and Cy Young award winners, and includes four Hall of Famers plus two other pitchers who won more than 280 games in their careers. It is also a lot of tough southpaws.
    If anything, pitching may have been even tougher when Morgan started his major league career in the 1960s. The starters then included Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, and Don Drysdale, all future Hall of Famers, all at their peaks.
    Guys are bigger and stronger now than they were in that era. My eyes have confirmed that.

    As for pitching, how about the fact that in the 70s, a LOT of pitchers regularly pitched complete games? Or if teams went to the bullpen, they maybed faced 1 or 2 other guys? With the way pitching is now, you have many managers that micromanage every at bat with a different pitcher late in the game giving the hitter a decreased chance and having a good AB and many teams have power closers that are dialing it up to the high 90s. That is certainly not how it was in the 70s.

    Also, while you mentioned some amazing HOF pitchers, you did cherrypick. How about Utley facing Santana, Clemons, Maddux, Glavine, Peavy etc.? While it's too early to declare anything about Peavy, those other guys are all Cy Young/HOF caliber pitchers that are (or were) in the same league.

    Also, ERA isn't necessarily an effective way to evaluate pitching for a variety of reasons. I will grant you that there isn't quite as much data about the 70s as there is now, but it's my belief that as a whole, pitching has gotten better.


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