Los Angeles

Chase Utley Named 2016 Dodgers' Heart and Hustle Award Winner

The Los Angeles Dodgers selected second baseman Chase Utley as the team's winner for the 2016 Heart and Hustle Award presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

Chase Utley has heart.

There's no denying that the 37-year-old baseball lifer epitomizes the toughness that comes with being a big league ballplayer, but Utley now has earned the respect of his teammates as he was named the 2016 winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Heart and Hustle Award. 

The award is presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) each year to the one player who "best embodies the values, spirits and traditions of baseball."

Each of the 30 Major League teams nominate a winner and the final award is voted on by the fans, alumni, and current players and is announced on November 15, 2016 at the annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. 

Utley hasn't even been with the Dodgers for a full calendar year, but he has reignited his career in Dodger blue not to mention become a leader in the locker room to a bountiful flock of rookies.

"The leadership, the attention to detail he has for the game—it was a huge boost for us down the stretch and into the playoffs (in 2005) and was an important thing for us to get back," Dodgers' General Manager Farhan Zaidi told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. "He just has such a strong reputation that even if you didn't get quite that offensive production there was a lot of value to having him on your team." 

Utley's heart and hustle on the field which opponents have deemed "dirty," has been evident throughout his big league career, which started in Philadelphia. It was on full display in his first stint with the Dodgers last fall when he collided into Ruben Tejada at second base to break up a double play in Game 2 of the NLDS against the New York Mets. 

Utley was suspended for the collision after it was announced that Tejada had suffered a broken leg, but remained a constant professional throughout the ordeal and has illustrated time and time again just what a team player he is, acting as a role model for younger players as well as agreeing to move to third base last season before ultimately staying at second base this season. 

"He's unbelievable. I can't even, don't even know where to start," said rookie shortstop Corey Seager who was selected to the NL All-Star team. "He's helped me on the field, off the field, in the clubhouse. Anything you can think or imagine I've asked him and he's talked to me about." 

Utley and Seager are neighbors in the Dodgers' clubhouse and the veteran player from Los Angeles has taken the young kid from North Carolina under his wing this year and the impact has shown for both players both on and off the field. 

"For me, I don't want to always be that guy, the teammate telling someone what to do. That's not the way to go about it," Utley told the OC Register. "I think you play the game the way you think you should and hopefully some guys see how that can be beneficial and try to implement that into their game." 

Utley has been nominated for the award seven times in his illustrious career, including last year with the Philadelphia Phillies. Previous winners include: Anthony Rizzo, Josh Harrison, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, Roy Halladay, Albert Pujols and Craig Biggio. 

"Chase exemplifies hard work, dedication and respect from his teammates," said Dodgers hitting coach Tim Hyners. "He's a class act on the field."

Utley is currently batting .266 with six home runs, 30 RBI and 47 runs scored as the Dodgers leadoff hitter this season.

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