Sep 5, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko (14) in the dugout during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Konerko: Evaluating 1B's Fantasy Value in 2014

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Hey guys, I’ve been living in the Tibetian highlands, working with orphaned refugees and didn’t have the opportunity to watch much baseball since 2012 and…OH DEAR GOD, WHAT HAPPENED TO PAUL KONERKO’S CAREER?!?!

I marched down from the Tibetian hinterlands only to find that after a 26 homer / .298 season in 2012, Konerko could only muster 12 and .244 in 2013, making him no better a fantasy option than, say…Jonny Gomes. *shudder*

Having already taken 17 Advil this morning, I can attest that age gets everybody in their mid-30’s, profesional athlete or not. Konerko – who actually shares a March 5th birthday with yours truly – will be 38 when 2014 rolls around. With his contract playing through 2013, one wonders what his future holds. But let’s dig into some numbers behind his depressing 2013.

It sneaks up on you, but Konerko has 434 career home runs. He has quietly been a fantastic player over his entire career. Outside of a .199 blip in 2008, he had a seven season ISO (read more about isolated power) stretch of .200+. Then in 2012 he finished with a .188 ISO. This was the first clue to his poor 2013, had the fantasy baseball community had been Sherlocky enough to see it.

Konerko finished 2013 with a .111 ISO, meaning his ability to hit with power is now on par with Yunel Escobar and Erick Aybar. To further illustrate the point, to find players with an ISO comparable to .111 I sorted from lowest to highest and came up from the bottom. Brandon Crawford’s ISO was higher than Konerko’s. *shiver*

Back injuries certainly contributed to the power drought, and that’s not something you can count on to miraculously improve.  The news gets worse when we investigate off-the-field rumors.

Regardless of what Frank Thomas thinks or says, the White Sox are fully preparing for a future without Paulie. The Chicago White Sox already have Adam Dunn and his $15,000,000 due in 2014. Granted, Dunn won’t play much 1B, but he and his three true outcome ways will certainly clog the DH position, leaving no space for Konerko there.

The White Sox also signed Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu. Despite never swinging a bat in America, Abreu got 5 years and over $50 million. It sounds shocking, but the White Sox may have actually gotten a deal here. Abreu needs space of his own, so rather than waste space here, I’ll point you to his 2014 fantasy baseball profile.

So even though White Sox signed Konerko to a one year $2.5 million dollar contract, he’ll only get to play about once a week, primarily backing up Abreu at first and coming in for an occasional DH at bat against righties. Konerko has always been an organizational guy and the White Sox have dangled out some thoughts about player-coaching, whatever that means in today’s modern game, and we’ll just hav to se how that goes.

All good things come to an end, and in 2013 we witnessed the end of Konerko’s fantasy relevance. Depending on getting a few more at bats than anticipated in 2014, a small resurgence could be possible. Still, any last career gasp would at very best be only 16-18 home runs, which makes Konerko undraftable as younger options are hitting that mark and are in strong supply.

In the end, Konerko shouldn’t be drafted in 2014, should he even lace them up for the full season. Even if you’re taking a $1 flyer on the back end of a draft, you’d save that buck for a player with upside. Konerko has none. Sadly, he’s a 38-year-old slugger with back problems and little hope for significant playing time.

I knew in writing this that there was little point in encouraging fantasy owners to give any attention to Konerko in 2014. This is in effect a tribute post. Paul Konerko had a long, wonderful, consistent career on the south side of Chicago. We’re talking 434 career home runs, 6 seasons with 100+ RBI, a career .281 hitter with 4 .300+ seasons, and a string of 10 season as one of the most consistent performers in the game. He was always thought of as a true professional and will likely have a nice career in coaching.

While his years of fantasy relevance have passed, let’s celebrate a great career.

Tags: Chicago White Sox Paul Konerko

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