White Sox

14 facts about former White Sox slugger Paul Konerko on his birthday

konerko.jpg
USA TODAY

14 facts about former White Sox slugger Paul Konerko on his birthday

Paul Konerko was one of those players who united a fan base. Maybe he won’t ever have a plaque in Cooperstown, but when you walk through the gates at Guaranteed Rate Field, you see the retired No. 14 and you see the statue. And you don’t get those things unless you were a big deal.

Most White Sox fans know that Konerko is second on the Sox career home run list with 432. And they also may know his seven postseason home runs (five of them for the World Series champs in 2005) is a franchise record. 

Well, here are 14 nuggets about Paulie you may NOT know…

155 players in MLB history have at least 2,300 career hits. Only one had fewer than 10 triples: Paul Konerko (eight). 

Next fewest is 12 by Frank Thomas, but that’s not to say Konerko didn’t have a flash of speed at least once in his career.

His first home run in the 2000 season was an inside-the-park “blast” at Tropicana Field. Speedsters Ozzie Guillen, Lance Johnson, Tim Raines, Ray Durham and Juan Pierre combined for 4,800 games in a Sox uniform. They never hit an inside-the-park homer.

Career with White Sox                          Games           SB             IPHR

Paul Konerko                                         2,268             9                1

Ozzie Guillen, Lance Johnson, Tim Raines, Ray Durham & Juan Pierre      

                                                              4,800             846             0

Konerko also had a knack for not getting caught stealing. In fact, from June 22, 1998 to September 2, 2007, he went 1,350 straight games without getting caught stealing. Granted, he only had five attempts, but the fact remains (hat tip to Ryan Spaeder for sharing this fact).

Konerko only had nine career stolen bases. Even Greg Maddux (11) had more career steals than Paulie.

Konerko was known best, however, for hitting the ball out of the park. Did you know Konerko’s first Major League home run (with the Dodgers) as well as his first home run in a White Sox uniform were both hit at the same ballpark? It was Seattle’s Kingdome of all places.

Konerko hit the same number of home runs (259) at Guaranteed Rate Field as Babe Ruth hit at Yankee Stadium.

Konerko was born in Providence, R.I. He has the most career home runs of anyone born in the smallest US state. His 237th career home run (passing Gabby Hartnett for the record) came off Mariano Rivera.

Konerko’s 81 home runs from 2004-2005 is a White Sox record over a two-season span.

Konerko (60) is one of three players in MLB history with 60+ career interleague home runs (Albert Pujols, 60, Jim Thome, 64). 20 of those home runs were against the Cubs.

Konerko was the first White Sox player to hit a home run at four different ballparks:

Turner Field, Coors Field, Citizens Bank Park and Nationals Park

Konerko is the only White Sox player to hit three home runs in a game at Guaranteed Rate Field (June 7, 2009). Five opposing players have done it.

Konerko’s long career had moments where he was at the right place at the right time…

Konerko was teammates with: Yolmer Sánchez (born June 29, 1992) and Eddie Murray (born Feb. 24, 1956)

Adrián Beltré’s first career MLB plate appearance was a double which drove home Paul Konerko (June 24, 1998).

Konerko is the only player to drive in both Frank Thomas and José Abreu in a White Sox uniform.

Here’s to a happy birthday to PK as his age reaches three times his uniform number. #SoxMath

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

1031_frank_thomas.jpg
USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.