Apr 22, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko (14) bats during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Tigers won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
There is no doubt the Paul Konerko is one of the Chicago White Sox all time greats. He was the cleanup man on their first World Series championship team in 88 years, and is in the Top 3 in many career offensive categories in franchise history.
Konerko also has been a mainstay on the South Side since 1999.
Is Paul Konerko the second best White Sox position player besides Frank Thomas?
That can be debated, just because the White Sox have had many other great players, such as Louis Aparicio who had different skill sets.
There is no doubt Konerko is the second greatest home run hitter in franchise history, just due to the fact that he is second in home runs only to Thomas. Carlton Fisk is another great who played for the White Sox for parts of 13 seasons, but he also played 11 seasons with the Boston Red Sox.
When Konerko came to the White Sox in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds before the 1999 season for centerfielder Mike Cameron, no one expected him to have this kind of a career.
Konerko was a hitter that had his ups-and-downs early in his career, but in 2004 he broke out. Konerko hit 41 home runs and drove in 117 runners that year, and was a key cog in a lineup that saw Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez go down mid-season to injuries.
He backed up ’04 with another banner year in ’05, hitting 40 homers and knocking in 100. As all White Sox fans know, that was the year the curse of Shoeless Joe was broken and a World Series title came to the South Side.
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After another good year in ’06, Konerko fell off a bit, hitting 31 homers in ’07 and 22 homers in ’08. In 2008 the Sox made the playoffs, only to be defeated 3-1 by the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
Since the 2008 season, the Sox have failed to make the postseason.
Konerko had good years in ’10 (39 HR, 111 RBI), and ’11 (31 HR, 105 RBI) and a good start in ’12.
However, in ’12 Konerko was slowed in the second half whether by his wrist issue and age. The White Sox had a three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers with a couple of weeks to that year, however could not maintain it.
In his final two campaigns, Konerko’s age has finally caught up with him. In ’13 he only managed to hit 12 home runs, while this season he was reduced to the role of a bench player due to Jose Abreu’s arrival.
Konerko will always be a legend on the South Side, and his contribution to the 2005 World Series winning team will be remembered forever by Sox fans.