The Best Rookie And Early Career Cards Of Hall Of Fame Candidate Chase Utley
Every year, a number of players become eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time. Some are sure-thing Hall of Famers, like Adrian Beltre. Others are hometown heroes who rank in the top 10 in career WAR at their positions, like Joe Mauer. Those are the somewhat easy selections, the ones that surprise neither fans nor collectors.
But then there are players who need a deeper look. Are they Hall of Fame worthy? What were their career accomplishments? And were they actually better than we remember? One of those players is Chase Utley, who joins Beltre and Mauer as a first-time candidate this winter.
But who is Chase Utley? Is he worthy of the Hall of Fame? And will voters agree? And most importantly, what are his rookie and early career cards that you should be taking a closer look at?
Who is Chase Utley?
After being drafted in the 2000 draft, Chase Utley made his big league debut in 2003 and quickly became a cornerstone of the excellent Philadelphia Phillies teams of that era. Utley would play in parts of 16 big league seasons with the Phillies and later the Los Angeles Dodgers. He helped lead the Phillies to the 2008 World Championship.
Along the way, Utley, a second baseman made six All-Star teams and won four Silver Slugger awards. Along the way, he put up a line of .275/.358/.465, goof for an OPS of .823 and OPS+ of 117. He hit over 250 home runs in his career, and stole more than 150 bases, as well.
Chase Utley was worth 64.5 WAR in his career.
Chase Utley and the Hall of Fame
Was Chase Utley’s career worthy of the Hall of Fame? He’s not a cut-and-dry candidate like fellow first-time ballot players like Adrian Beltre and Joe Mauer, but he’s worth a long second look.
Utley’s 64.5 career WAR ranks 15th all-time among second baseman. The average career WAR for the twenty second baseman currently in the Hall of Fame is 69.6. While Utley’s total isn’t quite at this level, the average is skewed by 100+ WAR totals from Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, and Joe Morgan. 10 of the 20 current Hall of Fame second baseman have a career WAR lower than Utley.
Of those ahead of him on the career WAR list, 10 are already in the Hall of Fame. Looking at those that aren’t, Robinson Cano would be a sure-thing except for a PED connection. Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich are two of the two biggest Hall of Fame slights of their era. Willie Randolph has his Hall of Fame advocates as well.
The arguments against Utley as a Hall of Famer have less to do with what he did on the field and more with the volume of his time there. He appeared in fewer than 2,000 games and had fewer than 2,000 career hits. He topped 140 games played in only 5 seasons, and 130 or more only three additional times. This leaves his career counting numbers a big light.
Will voters look past the lack of games played and see a Hall of Famer? My guess is that the answer is “yes, eventually”. It will likely take some time, and the continued evolution of the voter pool. How Utley does in the Hall of Fame ballot will say a lot about the future chances of upcoming players like Ian Kinsler (54.1) and Dustin Pedroia (51.9).
Chase Utley Rookie Cards
Considering the quality of player he was, and the era in which he played, it’s somewhat surprising that Chase Utley has effectively only two rookie cards.
These two rookie cards appear in 2001, a year after Utley was drafted. Both were produced by Bowman. The 2001 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects is the most sought after Utley rookie card. PSA has graded fewer than 800 copies of the card, which sells for between $90 and $100 for a PSA 9.
There are 110 PSA 10s out there, with the most recent sale at $550. For one of the few rookie cards of a Hall of Fame caliber player, that feels very reasonable, especially in a PSA 9 slab.
Additionally, Utley appears in the 2001 Bowman Heritage set, giving him a vintage-themed rookie card. The Heritage card has been graded only 292 times, but in a PSA 9 slab it sells for a very reasonable $30-40.
In a PSA 10 slab, of which 80 copies exist, you’ll pay more, with the last copy sold going for $115. Either way, these prices suggest a card that’s very under the radar. Considering it’s one of only two Utley rookie cards, it feels like it should have some upside.
It’s worth noting that Utley also appears on his first relic card in 2001, with the 2001 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Futures Game Relics card. We don’t usually mention relic cards in articles like this, but with so few big league rookie cards of Utley, it is worth mentioning.
They sell for $15-30 raw, and PSA has only graded 32 copies, with 4 PSA 10s.
|Card||Total PSA Pop||Recent Sale Pop||Recent Sale Price|
|2001 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chase Utley #BDP69||784||PSA 9 = 373||PSA 9 = $90-100|
|2001 Bowman Heritage Chase Utley #304||292||PSA 9 = 145||PSA 9 = $30-40|
|2001 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Futures Game Relics Chase Utley #FGR-CU||32||PSA 10 = 4||RAW = $15-30|
Chase Utley Minor League & Prospect Cards
In addition to having very few rookie cards, Ultey also appears on what feels like a smaller number of minor league and prospect cards than he should have, considering the era. The story here is very small to non-existent PSA populations, and very few copies available. If you come across one and the price is reasonable, it’s probably a good idea to jump on it.
The 2000 Batavia Muckdogs team issue card that Utley appears on has only been graded by PSA six times. Of those, five are PSA 8s, and none grade higher than that. No raw singles or team sets are currently available on eBay. The one copy that is available is a PSA-authentic graded autograph.
2000 Just Graded 2k, which also includes Utley in 2000, is an interesting set. Each pack contained one prospect card, which was graded by USA Sportscards. The grades tended to range from 8.5 to 10.
Because of this, I have found no evidence that any have been broken out and graded by PSA. They’re another tough find, and while the demand may be low, it’s a unique Utley collectible worth having.
In 2001, Utley appeared in two minor league sets, as well…both of which are difficult to track down nowadays. The 2001 Grandstand Florida State League Top Prospects card has been graded 12 times by PSA, with five PSA 9’s. Recent PSA 9 copies have fetched around $80.
The 2001 Multi-Ad Clearwater Phillies is another tough one to find. No copies have been graded by PSA as far as we can tell, and singles and sets are hard to come by.
After 2001, Utley began appearing on more cards each year, especially after his big league debut in 2003. While these other early career cards likely aren’t in high demand, they offer some interesting cards and low-cost ways to add Utley cards to your collection.
|Card||Total PSA Pop||Recent Sale Pop||Recent Sale Price|
|2000 Batavia Muckdogs Chase Utley||6||PSA 8 = 5||PSA 8 = NA|
|2000 Just Graded 2k Chase Utley #44||NA||NA||NA|
|2001 Grandstand Florida State League Top Prospects Chase Utley||12||PSA 9 = 5||PSA 9 = $80|
|2001 Multi-Ad Clearwater Phillies Chase Utley #26||NA||NA||NA|
Final thoughts on the best rookie and early career cards of Chase Utley
Chase Utley was a better baseball player than most remember. He is Hall of Fame worthy and should eventually make the Hall of Fame. Will it be this year? Probably not. It will be interesting to see what his first-year vote total will be, as that will likely help us determine just how long a road to Cooperstown he has ahead of him.
Regardless, with very few rookie and early career cards out there, and low PSA populations, it’s worth starting to acquire some Utley cards. When he makes the Hall of Fame, it will likely surprise some people and cause a bit of a spike in his card values, particularly in the short term.
Are you a Chase Utley fan? What do you think of his Hall of Fame chances? Have a favorite Utley card? Tell us all about it at card_lines on X (Twitter).
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