Four Former Bruins Lead MLB Teams into Playoffs
Oct. 1, 2007
LOS ANGELES - Four former UCLA baseball players - Garrett Atkins, Eric Byrnes, Ben Francisco and Chase Utley - will continue their major league seasons this week in the Major League Baseball playoffs, slated to begin Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Former Bruin infielder Garrett Atkins (1998-2000) helped the Colorado Rockies clinch the National League Wild Card in a one-game playoff Monday evening, earning Colorado its second playoff berth in the franchise's 14th season. Outfielder Eric Byrnes (1995-98) helped the Arizona Diamondbacks capture the National League Western Division title.
Outfielder Ben Francisco (2001-02) earned a midseason call-up from Buffalo (AAA) and helped lead the Cleveland Indians to the American League Central Division title. Infielder Chase Utley (1998-00) earned his first trip to the playoffs as the Philadelphia Phillies won the National League Eastern Division on Sunday afternoon.
Byrnes finished the regular season hitting .286, posting team-highs in hits (179), runs (103), doubles (30), RBI (83) and stolen bases (50). Atkins registered a .299 average with 25 home runs, 110 RBI and a .365 on-base percentage in 157 games.
Francisco made his major league debut May 1. In his second stint with the Indians in late June, he belted a walk-off home run in his first major league start (June 28). In 25 games, Francisco logged a .274 average, recording three home runs, five doubles and 12 RBI. Utley logged a team-leading .332 average, collecting 22 home runs, 103 RBI, 176 hits, 104 runs scored, a .410 on-base percentage and a .566 slugging percentage in 132 games.
As former Bruin teammates, Utley will face Atkins in the playoffs for the first time when the Rockies play the Phillies in a best-of-five series beginning Wednesday, Oct. 3. Byrnes and the Diamondbacks host the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series. Francisco and the Indians host the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series.