Everyone in Chicago knows the value and skill of White Sox team captain Paul Konerko. However, his recent numbers have been attracting the attention of baseball fans and authorities across the country.
Since the Sox are a much smaller market team compared to the crosstown Cubs, national attention is rare and usually negative. Because of this, Konerko’s accomplishments are refreshing in more ways than one. Since he is sitting on top (or near the top) of all of the majors in multiple batting categories, and has had phenomenal seasons the last few years, people are starting to ask the question, “Will Paul Konerko go into the Hall of Fame?”
Now very few people are as big a fan of Paul Konerko as myself. I admire the man both as a player and a team leader. I was at the World Series game when he hit the Grand Slam and will never forget the sound of the sell-out crowd as the ball came off his bat. On and off the field, he has always been a constant professional and the younger players on the team definitely benefit from his influence.
But a few good swings and the right attitude does not necessarily make him a Hall of Fame contender. As much as it pains me to say it, as of right now Paul Konerko will not make the Hall of Fame. Is it within the realm of possibility? Absolutely, but he’ll have to keep his uniform on until he turns at least 40. The problem with that is that Konerko has one year left on his contract with the White Sox and he has openly stated that he isn’t sure if he wants to keep playing past 2013.
Relative to other Hall of Fame first basemen, Konerko is similar in some respects and falls short in others. His lifetime average of .284 is decent, but low compared to players such as Jimmie Foxx (.325) and Bill Terry (.341). He also possesses an OBP of .360. That number would need to get closer to .385 or maybe even .400 if he wants to improve his chances.
Considering the previous numbers, the most important (and realistic) lifetime stat that Konerko could improve would have to be home runs. He is currently 47th on the all-time list with 407 bombs. If his other numbers were higher, he might be able to get away with 450 on his career. Given that they aren’t, though, he will HAVE to get to 500 in order to be considered. That many home runs will only happen if he plays beyond 2013.
As both a fan of the White Sox and Paul Konerko, I would love to see him get a contract extension. Not to mention that if Sox ever traded Konerko, it would be the worst PR move in the history of the team. It would be great to have a few more seasons with Paulie batting cleanup and he could remain as a very powerful DH should the Sox decide to only use his bat. He’ll get a statue at U.S. Cellular and they will probably retire his number as well. The Hall of Fame would just be icing on the cake and it would be amazing to see him get nominated.
As interesting as it is to ponder these scenarios, Konerko has always been a team player and right now, you can be sure that the Hall of Fame is the least of his concerns. The Sox are still strong going into the All-Star break and bringing one more World Series championship to Chicago is the only accolade that matters.