Paul Konerko has spent eighteen impressive seasons playing Major League baseball. This year, the longtime White Sox captain and first baseman will play his final season.
Konerko, who has been with the Sox since 1999, has played for only two other teams, the Dodgers and the Reds, at the beginning of his career. For the past seventeen years, fourteen of those spent with the Sox, Konerko has developed into a potential Hall-of-Famer. As of now, Konerko has a .280 career batting average, 434 home runs, and 1392 RBIs. Those are impressive numbers, potentially impressive enough to earn Konerko a spot among other legends in Cooperstown. 1
The White Sox have been Konerko’s team for many years and it seems only fitting that he end his career with the team he has spent so much time with.
So far this year, the face of the White Sox has had to adjust to a limited role, playing only twelve games thus far, most of them as a DH or pinch hitter. 2. Konerko initially struggled with this reduced playing time, going 0-for-17 before breaking that stretch with a RBI single against Detroit on April 22. However, after playing eighteen seasons in the big leagues, he knows that every new role takes time to get used to.
“Just because I’ve had so many thousands of at-bats in my career doesn’t necessarily mean anything for this role,” Konerko said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. 2 However, the veteran first baseman will likely find a way to adjust to his new role.
While Konerko has taken a step back during his last season, the rest of the White Sox club has managed to find a way to win even without a large contribution from him. As of this writing, the Sox currently sit at 13-13, good enough for third place in the AL Central, 1.5 games behind first-place Detroit.
Thus far, the team has been powered by Jose Abreu and Dayan Viciedo. Abreu leads the team in home runs (10) and RBI (31- a rookie record for April), while Viciedo has his team-leading .367 batting average and .413 OBP. 3 The Sox have some tough competition in the AL Central, but it’s far too early in the season to predict what this team is capable of.
If Konerko steps up and puts together a memorable season like he did in 2005, and if the rest of the club continues to play consistently, the White Sox have a legitimate chance to win the division.
Whether the Sox make it deep into the playoffs or not, Paul Konerko’s last season is sure to be a memorable one for the White Sox, as well as for Chicago’s fans.