Paul Konerko has put up some impressive numbers since coming to the White Sox in 1999. But the Tribune's seven Hall of Fame voters agree the slugger is not worthy of Cooperstown —for now.
There is some hesitation to declare Konerko a definite Hall of Famer, only because he's under contract for 11/2 more seasons and his legacy could become even greater.
The fact that he leads the American League in batting average this year despite only one infield hit is a testament to his prowess as an all-around hitter.
Consistency has been a staple of Konerko's success.
What has been just as impressive is Konerko's ability to carry the offensive freight in contract years, after which he remained loyal to the Sox in turning down more lucrative offers.
During the second half of the Sox's 2005 World Series run, Konerko batted .323 with 20 homers to prevent a Sox collapse. In 2010, Konerko batted .312 with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs.
There will continue to be a debate about fellow first baseman Jeff Bagwell, whose impressive career was diminished at the end because of injuries. But Konerko's Hall of Fame candidacy will get stronger if he continues a semblance of his consistent pace.
In my quest to bolster Paul Konerko's Hall of Fame chops, I did a little research. Now I wish I hadn't.
Konerko actually fares well in the traditional categories, especially if he hits 93 more bombs to reach 500. But in the new-school category of WAR (Wins Above Replacement position player), Konerko rates 45th among active players at 26.0.
He somehow trails Orlando Hudson, Mark Ellis and Grady Sizemore, who had four good seasons. Jim Thome, fourth among actives, has a comparatively Ruthian 67.4 WAR.
Of course, that stat does not measure this: Which teammate would you want to go to WAR with? Konerko is off the charts there.
So if he continues to rake, I'll continue to look for reasons to check his box. He brings every intangible. He's an A-plus guy in the clubhouse.
I covered his dreadful 2003 season (.234 average, 18 homers), and he did not snap at the media once. He has been terrific nearly every year since. I would like to think that's good karma.
I would consider Paul Konerko seriously for the Hall of Fame even though his career stats are excellent but not head-turning (.284 BA, 407 HR, .863 OPS).
Konerko is a good fielder with an offensive consistency (eight seasons with 97 to 117 RBIs in a lineup often devoid of table-setters; eight seasons of 30 or more doubles from a guy with no speed) and a professionalism that make him far more than the sum of his stats.