The Hall of Fame case for Paul Konerko
Mar 16, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko (14) during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
This season is the Paul Konerko Farewell Tour. For one last time, Konerko is going to suit up for the Chicago White Sox, likely seeing time as the occasional first baseman/designated hitter. With Jose Abreu being the future at first, and the presence of Adam Dunn on the roster, Konerko is not likely to receive the same playing time that he had through most of his career.
As Konerko embarks on one final season, it is fair to wonder how he will be remembered going forward. Naturally, Konerko will be remembered for being an important part of the 2005 World Series team that broke an 88 year championship drought. Yet, will Konerko be considered as something more than one of the best players on the team that finally brought a World Series championship back to Chicago?
Entering the 2014 season, Paul Konerko has put together a solid career. A six time All-Star, he has produced a .281/.356/.491 batting line with 434 home runs, 1390 RBIs and 2297 hits. On the all time lists, Konerko is 42nd in homers, 75th in RBIs and 149th in hits. The case could be made that Konerko may be a decent candidate for induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame once his career ends.
Those numbers, as good as they are, are not likely to be enough for Konerko to receive baseball’s highest honor. According to baseball-reference.com, Konerko does have three players that he is considered similar to in Jim Rice, Willie Stargell and Orlando Cepeda. However, the best comparison for Konerko may be the player he has been the most similar to for each of the last four years: Fred McGriff.
Like Paul Konerko, McGriff was typically overshadowed by the bigger names in baseball. Yet, like Konerko, he produced year in and year old, consistently ranking amongst the best at his position and in the game. Quietly, McGriff put together a career .284/.377/.509 batting line with 493 home runs and 1550 RBIs. Those numbers, while not enough to get him inducted into the Hall at this point, have been enough to keep McGriff between 10% to 24% of the vote.
That appears to be the type of future that Konerko will have once he reaches the ballot. Konerko had a very good career, and one that should keep him on the ballot for most, if not all, of that fifteen year window, but ultimately, it may not be good enough to be enshrined with baseball’s immortals.
Paul Konerko had a very good career, but it does not appear as though he is a Hall of Fame player.