The Chicago White Sox have been lucky with all-time great first basemen over the years.
The Chicago White Sox have been blessed over the past few decades with their first basemen. They might not have, outside of the 2005 World Series victory, won a lot of baseball games but they keep pumping out quality first basemen. It might seem like an insignificant deal but a great first baseman helps keep the infield in check. A first basemen’s ability to recover bad throws in the dirt or make plays to keep the ball from sailing over his head is very important.
Whenever a guy has a chance to be the one touching the ball last on a good amount of plays, you want him to be good. In Major League Baseball, it is also ideal to have a first baseman that can hit the ball. Modern-day White Sox fans are used to having a guy that can do both as they went from Paul Konerko to Jose Abreu. Frank Thomas had his hand at first base as well but he was more known for being a designated hitter.
Konerko and Abreu stick out as some of the best first basemen in the history of the team. So the question remains, of the two, who was/is better? The easy answer is Paul Konerko because he is a White Sox legend who has his number retired and an outfield statue but it isn’t that simple. Konerko played out his whole career and has been retired for a while now so of course, he has those accolades already.
In Paul Konerko’s career, he had a slash line of .279/.354/.486 with an OPS of .841 which is very good over the span of 18 years. He hit 439 home runs and had 1412 RBIs. He also had a career WAR of 28.0. Those are all very good numbers for a player who was clean during the steroid era. His career accolades include a World Series Championship, an ALCS MVP, and six times as an All-Star.
As for Abreu, his career slash is .294/.350/.520 with an OPS of .870. He currently sits with 198 home runs and 671 RBIs. His 23.7 WAR is already creeping in on Paulies 28.0 and Abreu still has a few more years of elite baseball left in him. Abreu’s career accolades include Rookie of the Year, three Silver Slugger Awards, three All-Star teams, and an American League MVP.
Some of Abreu’s career numbers might start to come down when he regresses as he ages, it does for everyone. He also probably won’t ever catch some of Konerko’s power numbers because of the fact that he didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 27. With that said, the fact that the WAR is already evening out and Abreu has only been in the league for seven years as opposed to Konerko’s 18 says a lot.
There is a good chance that Abreu is never as beloved as much as Konerko but the fact that Abreu’s prime seems to be better than Paulie’s prime says a lot. If you had to choose someone’s overall career in the big leagues, you might take Paul Konerko’s but Abreu is a better player. There is a good chance that by the time Abreu retires, his number is retired and there is a statue of him at the ballpark as well. Hopefully, he keeps playing well and gets himself a World Series title like Konerko did before him.