Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley is approaching another milestone in the 16th season of his illustrious Major League career as he is just one hit by pitch away from No. 200.
Already the active leader in that category, he would become just the eighth player in MLB history to reach that benchmark. Finding a way to get hit by pitches while avoiding injury has been one of Utley’s many specialities since entering the league in 2003.
The process has become an art for the veteran, though he believes it more’s difficult to get hit by a pitch when it’s heading toward his cleats, per Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“For me, it’s easy to not get out of the way of a ball that’s coming at your shoulder or your back or your leg,” Utley said. “It’s harder when they’re at your feet. That is a natural instinct. It took me a while to be able to fight that tendency to move. Sometimes I still do. But I’ve gotten better at it.”
Since being acquired by the Dodgers in 2015, Utley has been hit by a pitch 26 times. That’s in contrast to 173 times with the Philadelphia Phillies, who he spent 13 previous seasons with.
Utley was last hit by a pitch in Game 6 of the 2017 World Series by Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander. It proved beneficial, as it sparked the Dodgers to a rally in the inning that resulted in them taking a 2-1 lead.
They ultimately went on to win the contest and forced a Game 7, which of course then didn’t go in their favor.
Considering Utley’s willingness to sacrifice his body for the sake of reaching base, he should reach No. 200 in the near future.