As the baseball Hall of Fame voting has started, Chicago White Sox legend Paul Konerko is on the ballot as a candidate. There are some great players on the ballot and this is how Paul fits in.
The Hall of Fame allows voters to vote for a maximum of ten players. Personally I think this is a bad rule as there are at least 13-14 players on the ballot that I would want to vote for. Nevertheless, not filling all ten spots is a wasted ballot and voters who do so usually do this for attention. Now, I think the case could be made that Chicago White Sox great Paul Konerko could be one of the ten once you break down the ballot and consider who is deserving.
First, we have to deal with the steroid issue. One way to get Konerko to be one of the ten players voted for would be to just not vote for anyone associated with steroids, as I think he is in the top ten among clean players. However, I think this would be lazy and cheap. While steroid users should be punished, they can’t be discarded entirely considering that MLB did nothing to stop them at the time. Furthermore, there are two players who were Hall of Famers before they even touched steroids, and those are the two that I would vote for among the steroid users:
1) Barry Bonds
Next, we have the lock candidates. These are guys that unquestionably belong and you absolutely have to vote for:
3) Derek Jeter
4) Larry Walker
Here are the next four next-most deserving players:
(6) Todd Helton
(7) Jeff Kent
(8) Scott Rolen
(9) Andruw Jones
If you’re going to vote for Paul Konerko, you have to vote Todd Helton. While they were similar players, Helton was overall better than Konerko. It could certainly be argued that Konerko was a better player from 2005-onward, but the first half of your career counts too.
Jeff Kent is another guy that was better than Paul Konerko. If you’re going to vote for Barry Bonds, it’s only fitting you would have to put on his rival teammate as well. Kent was the 2000 MVP and has the record for home runs by a second baseman. As one of the greatest second basemen of all time, it’s amazing that he’s not in yet. This guy has got to get more votes.
Then we have Scott Rolen, who probably deserves to be ranked more among the shoo-in candidates. It’s amazing that he doesn’t get more support considering the fact he was probably a better player than Derek Jeter.
Andruw Jones deserves a vote as well. He was as a slightly worse hitter than Konerko but was so much more valuable on defense that you can’t vote for Konerko without including Jones. He may still not get in because he didn’t get 2,000 hits, as that stopped Jim Edmonds from getting in as well. Nonetheless, he’s one of the greatest fielders all-time at his position. He also hit 434 MLB home runs, so I don’t see how you can’t vote for him.
(10) Paul Konerko
So now we have one spot remaining, and I would argue that it should go to Paul Konerko. The other options are Bobby Abreu and Omar Vizquel. Konerko made six all-star teams, which is better than Vizquel and Abreu combined (5). The fact that Konerko made six all-star teams needs to be mentioned more in his Hall of Fame candidacy. It’s called the Hall of Fame not the Hall of WAR.
Plus, Omar Vizquel does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame at all. He has annually been getting way more votes than he deserves (42.8%), mainly because the voters think that he’s similar to Ozzie Smith. Well, they are right, if by Ozzie they mean Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox fired Vizquel from being a minor league manager recently, which is kind of a good thing because now I feel more freedom to criticize him. He was a terrible hitter when he was with the White Sox (75 OPS+), and he wasn’t that much better for his career (82 OPS+).
Besides Konerko, the other options are mostly steroids guys. The fact that Jason Giambi needed to take steroids to hit just one more home run for his career than Paul Konerko (440 to 439), means that it would be pathetic to vote for him over Konerko. Manny Ramirez was a fantastic hitter for his career, but he was literally one more flunked drug test away from being banned from baseball for life. Guys like Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, and Sammy Sosa were all better players than Konerko, but the fact is their stats are extremely inflated by steroids, and the facts are that they cheated and Konerko did not. The Hall of Fame’s good character clause should keep them out.
The difference of course with guys like Clemens and Bonds is that they were already going to make the hall before they began cheating, so it’s hard to cut them out on a ballot that includes Konerko. Plus they are also all-time greats. So is any Hall of Fame voters happen to read this, there are ways for you to include Paul Konerko on your ballot. Please consider voting like this, we’re practically begging you at this point.