It feels like a few years ago we were talking about the demise of Paul Konerko, yet three straight seasons of 28+ home runs (including a 39 HR year) quickly ended that talk. However, after a hot start to 2012 (through the end of May he was hitting .381 with 11 HR and 33 RBI), things have completely fallen apart.
In 83 June at-bats, Konerko struggled mightily, hitting .241 with 3 HR and 7 RBI. He has been even worse thus far in July (through Tuesday), not yet hitting a home run and picking up just 3 RBI despite continuing to hit in the middle of the lineup.
Is this finally the end of the line for the 36-year-old slugger?
Obviously the early season average was buoyed by some tremendous luck (BABIP over .400 each month) and no one expected him to maintain that type of pace. While he has struggled lately, what is important to note is that he continues to hit the ball well overall, as he’s posted the following line drive rates:
Couple that with the fact that he continues to make good contact (8.6% and 13.5% the past two months) and there is little to worry about in regards to his average. He isn’t a .380 hitter, but he never was going to be. However, a .300 hitter is a different story and that’s what I would expect him to be going forward.
The bigger question mark has got to be his power outage. These numbers are a little bit trickier, but I still would hold off on pressing the panic button.
Overall his 14.6% HR/FB is reasonable, as is his 37.2% fly ball rate. Baseball is a game of averages, so while the past month-and-a-half has been poor, I wouldn’t use it to ignore the first two months. Granted, the power disappeared after the All-Star Break in 2011 (22 of his 31 HR came before the break), which just adds to the problem.
However, he plays in a hitter’s park and you have to think that the power is still there. Last season was the aberration, as he had never shown that type of split in the previous few seasons. Throw in the fact that he hit for power early this year and it is hard to draw a correlation.
The bottom line is, I would expect a rebound to come in the not-too-distant future. If you are a Konerko owner, all you can really do is stay the course and wait (or should I say, hope) for the impending turnaround.
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