Chicago White Sox: What Sox Fans Want to See from Paul Konerko Before Retirement
"Paulie, Paulie, Paulie."
Picture me and 30,000 White Sox fans at U.S. Cellular field screaming that loud and clear after Paul Konerko belted a homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the Sox ahead for good.
I've said this before, but it's too good not to say again. Paul Konerko, captain of the Chicago White Sox, is like a fine wine. He just gets better and better with age.
Look at the guy's numbers since age 30: He's belted 186 HRs, driven in 569 RBI and been on three American League All-Star teams. Before age 30, he only earned that honor once.
Sadly, facts are facts. Players get old, their performance eventually declines and then they retire.
It's unfortunate, but it's life.
As a Sox fan, what do you want to see No. 14 accomplish in his remaining years playing the game we all know and love?
A healthy dose of irrational hopes mixed with more realistic ones is due. Here's my list.
500 HR Club
I'll start out with the most obvious objective that Sox fans like myself expect to see.
The prestigious 500 HR club, aka an almost automatic bid to Cooperstown.
Entering the 2012 season, Konerko is sitting at 396 home runs.
He's 35 years old—closer to 36—and he needs 104 more round trippers to reach this milestone.
Let's say Konerko plays three more seasons. Can he average 35 bombs a year for those three years?
Unlikely, but possible.
Realistically speaking, Konerko's going to have to play for roughly five more seasons at 21-HR per season clip.
Definitely a possibility considering Paulie's game isn't necessarily built on speed.
Swipe 100 Stolen Bases
Sorry, I'll get my head out of the clouds.
The speedster has currently swiped nine bags in his 15-year career. He's a menace on the base paths that opposing pitchers and catchers need to constantly worry about.
Paulie, swipe one more for an even 10. That should be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.
There's nothing more exciting than a walk-off walk in the bottom of the ninth.
In all seriousness, drawing 1,000 free passes in a career is definitely noteworthy. The achievement exemplifies the hitter's discipline and knack for not swinging at garbage.
The slugger currently sits at 810 BBs. With opposing pitchers not necessarily intimidated by the rest of the lineup, Konerko will probably reach this goal no problem.
It's not Barry Bonds territory—who drew 2,558 BBs in 22 seasons—but it's still something I can write about and actually believe will happen.
Konerko should have no issue reaching this plateau as he already stands at 1,261 RBI for his career.
The only question is whether or not the Sox will get guys on base for him to drive home. This is directed at you White Sox hitters. Maybe my cry for more base runners will be answered.
He just can't hit 239 solo HRs and call it a day. Can he?
Barring significant injury, he should hit this mark furthering his case for glory.
Realistically, let's say Konerko ends up with somewhere between 1,550-1,600 RBI for his career. That's good enough for the top 50 in that category in MLB history. Not too shabby.
One Gold Glove
He's never won one and probably never will. Nonetheless, his ability to scoop up countless bad throws from White Sox infielders over the years saved them from so many errors.
While he might not have a lick of range, his reliability at first cannot be taken for granted.
Too bad, he has to compete against the likes of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Pena year after year. They both are just phenomenal fielders and play on better teams.
While the chances might be slim, adding this notch to his belt might make White Sox fans think of Paulie as the best White Sox ever.
We'll continue this discussion a couple more slides later in the show.
One More Chance at a Ring
Why not? He's already got one ring, so let's not get greedy. But wouldn't it be marvelous if he got one more crack at winning it all?
Barring some sort of Christmas miracle, the White Sox don't look like they are sniffing a World Series for a while.
So the question begs to be asked: Do you trade Paulie to a contender for prospects this season?
There are two answers—a selfish one and a moral one.
While he might fetch a good prospect or two, do you really want to trade the face of the organization?
He would probably waive his no trade clause if he smelled the opportunity. But would Kenny and Jerry ever pull the trigger?
Nah. At least I hope not.
Cementing His Legacy as the Best White Sox Player of All Time
OK, hear me out before you decide to rip me apart in the comments.
Frank Thomas is by far and away my favorite player of all time. But can Paul Konerko eclipse him for being the most revered in White Sox history?
I might be completely off here, but take a look at their statistics with the White Sox.
Frank Thomas: .307 BA, 448 HRs, 1,465 RBI and 1,667 BBs
Paul Konerko: .284 BA, 389 HRs, 1,232 RBI and 793 BBs
Frank's got Paulie in terms of statistics and AL MVP titles. But both sluggers went to five All-Star games and Paulie actually plays in the field.
Add in the fact that he's a vital part of a World Series team (2005) and you've got a closer comparison than what meets the eye.
While the Big Hurt was definitely more feared and much better during his prime, Konerko has definitely narrowed the gap after age 30.
If PK keeps it up for two to three more years and gets his numbers up, I've got a legitimate gripe.
Go ahead and disagree. I dare you.
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