The Hall is Calling: Paul Konerko
The Stats Are There But Does He Get In?
When I got the idea to write articles about players I feel should have a chance at the Hall of Fame, I was gearing it more towards players still playing. When I saw that the Chicago White Sox were going to retire Paul Konerko‘s #14 this season I felt compelled to start the discussion on him. He played a long time and put up some nice stats, but is it enough for Cooperstown?
Konerko was drafted as a catcher by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round in 1994. He played that position his first two seasons in the minors before being switched over to first base. He made his major league debut as a 21-year old in September of 1997 for the Dodgers, appearing in six games and managed one hit in seven at-bats. He would start 1998 as a member of the Dodgers but would be traded to the Cincinnati Reds in July for pitcher Jeff Shaw. He finished out the season as a member of the Reds before being shipped out in November of 1998 to the White Sox for Mike Cameron.
The Chicago White Sox were able to pencil Konerko in at first base and were able to do it for 16 seasons. All he did in return was record 2,292 hits, 432 home runs, 1,383 RBI, and had an average of .281. He made the postseason three times and brought the White Sox their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005, picking up ALCS MVP honors along the way.
So where does he rank?
Reaching 3,000 hits almost ensured you a place in the Hall of Fame which Konerko fell short of (2,340). Hitting 500 home runs (prior to all of the steroid talk) was another thing that would just about seal your fate for a Cooperstown bid. He fell short of that too with 439. Looking at the list of all that are enshrined there, many didn’t reach those numbers either.
Konerko finished his career tied with Barry Larkin in hits, but is short of the Hall of Fame average of 2,402 which really isn’t that big of a deal. As far as home runs go, Konerko and his 439, would be ranked 22nd among all Hall of Famers sandwiched between Carl Yastrzemski and Andre Dawson. The home run average is obviously lower due to all the different types of players in there, but it is 212. The 1,412 runs batted in is good enough for 47th place for Hall of Fame players, six above Robin Yount. His lifetime .279 batting average puts him in a tie with players like Tony Perez and Ricky Henderson, but is 24 points lower than the HoF average.
It is hard to say with the way the voting goes whether he gets consideration by the writers to get elected to the Hall of Fame. He is going to be placed on the ballot with Derek Jeter, since they both retired the same year, and it is hard to say which players will still be there five years from now. In my opinion Konerko will get in but it may take a few seasons to get there.