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Paul Konerko says his 2012 was “smoke and mirrors”

Jan 28, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

paul konerko getty Getty Images

White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko had another fine year in 2012, posting a line of .298/.371/.486 with 26 homers.  It was especially notable for its fast start, as Konerko was pusing .400 through late May. But Chuck Garfien of reports Konerko told folks at Sox Fest over the weekend that it was a major struggle:

“I never felt that good from the get-go, so it was kind of one of those years where it was smoke and mirrors for most of it,” Konerko admits. “Looking back on it, I feel like it could have been a disaster if I didn’t grind through it probably as much as I can. I just didn’t feel like I had it. You have years like that.”

The rest of his comments suggest a guy who knows the end is near and is perfectly realistic about it.  Always love to see that.


  1. Mauricio Rubio Jr. - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Reblogged this on Chicago, A Drinking Town With A Sports Problem and commented:
    Welp, this is interesting.

    • brewcrewchamps - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      Speaking of interesting, your comment and shameless plug were not.

      • Jeremy T - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        It’s automatically posted by WordPress, I doubt that he did it on purpose. It is still annoying, though.

  2. danaking - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    I’ve been a Konerko fan for years,, which can be hard, since al he does is put up numbers. He doesn’t run his mouth or get arrested or fued with the manager/teammates/media. He’s not a superstar, but he could play for me any time.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      Absolutely Dana. Dude is solid. As you said…all he does is put up numbers.
      This reminds me of Chris Carter. All he did was catch touchdown passes.

  3. csndrew - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Imagine if Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens came out and said the last 10 years of their career was “smoke and mirrors”….

    • historiophiliac - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:02 PM


  4. jarathen - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Konerko has quietly put together quite the career. Aside from his 2003 season, in which he was 27 (which is spectacularly odd, since it’s supposed to be his physical prime), he’s has an OPS+ of 103 or better every year since 1999. Take out his subpar 2008 season and his lowest OPS+ in that time frame becomes 116.

    If he can hammer out a few more solid seasons, he will have an interesting case in Cooperstown as a clean first baseman with roughly 500 home runs and solid plate discipline. Like a Tim Salmon without the injuries.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      If he can hammer out a few more solid seasons, he could be the first member of the 500 home run club without any legitimate argument for Cooperstown enshrinement at all.

      From 2004 to 2012…so chosen because that the span at which Konerko was at his absolute best….
      …he ranks *11th* in WAR for first baseman. (Pujols, Cabrera, Teixeira, Berkman, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Votto, Fielder, Lee, Helton). If we shorten that to just the past 3 years, he still only ranks *9th*.

      He currently ranks 555th all time in WAR and 325th all time in OPS+.

      His case for Cooperstown is a very solid “no”.

      • skids003 - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Just because he ranks 11th in some BS stat doesn’t mean he should be written off. He’s been solid for many years, does his job, and doesn’t create havoc and drama. I agree with jarathen.

      • oldnavyperformancefleece - Jan 28, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        Speaking of “smoke and mirrors” I give you….a statistic known as WAR….. So are going to tell me that Paul Konerko is the 555th best player of all time?

        I’d like to see that list of 554 players that had better careers.

      • scatterbrian - Jan 28, 2013 at 5:29 PM


        “He’s been solid for many years, does his job, and doesn’t create havoc and drama.”

        These things don’t make someone a Hall of Famer, and Konerko is not a Hall of Famer.

        Since you clearly don’t like WAR, compare Konerko’s “real” stats to Fred McGriff’s.

        .283/.359/.499/.858, 422 HRs, 1336 RBIs, 134 OPS+
        .284/.377/.509/.886, 493 HRs, 1550 RBIs, 121 OPS+

        Konerko is below across the board, and McGriff is not sniffing the HoF.

      • scatterbrian - Jan 28, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        Damn, I blew it. Swap the OPS+ (McGriff = 134).

      • Jeremy T - Jan 29, 2013 at 5:52 PM

        Even if he’s better than 555th, there’s no way he’s in the top 250 or so, which seems to me to be the absolute borderline of how good a player has to be to even be an undeserving HOFer.

        These kinds of debates, by the way, are the main reason I’m sick of talking about the HOF. Paul Konerko has been a great player with a great career. It doesn’t seem right that we’re bringing him down…

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 29, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        “Speaking of “smoke and mirrors” I give you….a statistic known as WAR….. So are going to tell me that Paul Konerko is the 555th best player of all time?

        I’d like to see that list of 554 players that had better careers.”

        If only there was some possible way for you to see that list! To bad you your keyboard apparently lacks the ability to visit baseballreference on your own.

        Look, Konerko was a nice player. Hit some home runs, got on base some (not nearly to the degree of elite first baseman)…but he also played 1st base at a time when there were a plethora of elite first baseman, couldn’t field and is a poor baserunner. Where is he supposed to rank?

    • Roger Moore - Jan 28, 2013 at 4:04 PM

      Konerko put up some nice numbers, but he was never really an elite player. He never led the league in any positive offensive category (his only league lead in any offensive category was once in GIDP) and was rarely particularly close to leading the league, either. He doesn’t score particularly well by things like the HOF standards or HOF monitor, and most of the players who are statistically similar to him who are in the HOF played in much lower scoring eras. I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing him- you don’t put together a 16 year MLB career and make the All-Star team 6 times by being a schlub- but he’s more of the “Hall of the Very Good” kind of player than a real HOFer.

      • jarathen - Jan 29, 2013 at 7:22 AM

        I have a soft spot for the Hall of Very Good. McGriff is already there.

  5. tfbuckfutter - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Nice to see someone being real, honest and sounding humble.

  6. scatterbrian - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    He was doing what through late May?

  7. themagicfanguy - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    @kirk Well since WAR doesn’t mean a dang thing to most voters(for good reason), his case is better than you are making it out to be.

    • Jeremy T - Jan 28, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      Essentially worthless on the basepaths and in the field. Never finished higher than 5th in MVP voting. He has had a long, consistent career of hitting around 30 HRs/year and a batting average hovering around .300 in his best years. That’s certainly valuable, but without a little bit of speed, defense, and batting eye, not nearly enough to make the hall of fame. He’s basically a lesser version of Mark McGwire, without the walks, and McGwire’s already borderline. Just because sportswriters aren’t likely to mention WAR by name doesn’t mean that they don’t care about all of the things that WAR is attempting to measure.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 29, 2013 at 8:31 PM is his case:

      1. Never anywhere close to being the best first baseman in the game
      2. Finished top 10 in the MVP voting exactly twice (5th was his high).
      3. Hit 422 home runs…which would have been impressive if he had a played in another era. In this one…not so much.
      4. Was a poor fielder and baserunner
      5. Was a contemporary of the following:
      -Albert Pujols
      -Jim Thome
      -Todd Helton
      -Lance Berkman
      -Carlos Delgado
      -Mark Teixeira
      -Adrian Gonzalez

      …all of whom were better than him. How many HOFers were the 7th best at their position?

      His hall case is rather awful actually. I will go out on a limb and say that if he retired today and were elected to the hall, he would be the worse non-veterans committee pick in Cooperstown.

  8. jimbroney - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    I’d like to see Ron karkovice get elected.

  9. cur68 - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Konerko should be honest. It was quite clear he was forced to rely on his athleticism, natural talent, and instinct for baseball since his “grit spreader” was on the fritz. He could use a grit lesson from Juan “The Ophence” Pierre.

  10. stlouis1baseball - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Well…it’s official then.
    Based on these posts…Paul Konerko might be the worst MLB player in the history of the game.

    • Jeremy T - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      Yeah, that’s the pitfall that comes with HOF debates. Really, any debate about an award or honor. The mere fact that the conversation is being had means that the player is/was ridiculously talented. I think this year’s ALMVP debate was one of the clearest examples of this. Now, I still think Trout should’ve won the MVP, and I don’t think Konerko is a Hall of Famer, but they’re both still reeeeally good.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 29, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      No, he’s a good player, it’s just that people get insane in these HOF debates. I should state that I merely responded to the absurd assertion that he would a legitimate HOF candidate by properly putting his career in some context.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        I hear you fellows. The comment was really just made sorta tongue-in-cheek.
        Konerko is very much a good player. Some of the comments just make me shake my head.

        You said it best Kirk…
        Look at all the stud 1st Baseman in MLB. Dude has some serious talent to measure up too.
        -Albert Pujols
        -Jim Thome
        -Todd Helton
        -Lance Berkman
        -Carlos Delgado
        -Mark Teixeira
        -Adrian Gonzalez

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