Paul Konerko's MVP Candidacy

Paul Konerko's MVP Candidacy

 

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It's weak.

Normally MVPs have to either be the best player on the best team (the Sox are certainly not that), or someone just transcendently better than everyone else in the league (there are two guys like that in the AL, and neither of them are Paulie).  Konerko isn't even 1st on his own team in wins above replacement; that honor belongs to Alexei Ramirez, whose absurdly good defensive ratings have put him at 3.5, compared to Konerko's 3.4.

 

But plodding sluggers rooted at 1st base are always going to be a little hindered in WAR because it measures them in comparison to other players at the same position.  And every single team puts their plodding slugger at 1st base; except the A's, because they don't have one.  Besides, if you listen only to WAR, that would mean that Josh Hamilton is TWICE as valuable as Paul Konerko and that's....that's....uh....actually that would explain a lot.

Still, by and large the people with votes for the MVP award are out of the advanced statistics loop (like, even more than I am), and they largely just reward players for raw hitting numbers....and Paulie's the best guy the White Sox have for that...and honestly is one of the best in the league.

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Paul profiting at the harm of Kevin Youkilis at an earlier point in the season

With Kevin Youkilis out for the season and soon to fall off the leaderboard due to a lack of at-bats, Paulie is very solidly the 3rd best hitter in the league (.971 OPS); a depressingly definitive cut below the uber-elite young stalwarts Hamilton (1.038) and Cabrera (1.081), but definitively superior to two guys also having absolute career years in Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista (both at .953), and the guy the White Sox should have been bending over backwards to trade for at the deadline (Luke Scott, .939).

It's against Cabrera and Hamilton where Paulie bangs his head on the glass talent ceiling.  He's far more of a pure slugger than Cabrera or Hamilton, cranking out a fly ball rate of 45.9% compared to 41.1% for Cabrera, and 36.5% for Hamilton--who simply cranks out line drives at an absurd rate.  Even though it stands at a very respectable .326, his batting average for balls in play is also the lowest of the three, as well is his ISO, a measure of pure power, and he lags behind in slugging percentage (.581, when both Hamilton and Cabrera are over .630).  He also is let down by the fact that the best offensive year of his career is coupled with his worst defensively (-8.9 UZR), and the fact that he is rated as the 3rd slowest regular player in the league by the unreliable Speed metric.  He's probably going to need to have some absurd final month that resembles his April where he hit 11 dingers, had a Barry Bonds-like OPS (1.197), while at the same time carries the Sox to an improbable division title.  Other than that, he'll probably be limited to getting Phil Rogers' vote.

Not immediately visible in this photo: anyone besides Alexei who isn't ridiculously old

But the real marvel of Konerko's season is not its overall quality, but the fact that it's coming at age 34, when he should be entering a hellish decline.  This is why I propose that Paulie be considered for a much more prestigious award, a completely fabricated award, the Most Valuable Fogie award: a new prize to be given to the best player over 30.  And Paulie is certainly a preeminent contender for the prize.

Of all the players in the AL over 30 with let's say...at least 95 plate appearances, there are only 7 players with an OPS over .900.  There's 31 year-old Adrian Beltre (.922), the injured 31 year-old Kevin Youkilis (.975), the 32 year-old Luke Scott (.939), 34 year-old Ramon Castro (.965, in only 95 PAs), 34 year-old David Ortiz (.919).  And then there's Paulie at .971, and one other....

...39 year-old Jim Thome, with a .982...higher than everyone else.

 

Ugh....that's painful.

 

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  • great post. i wish paulie had a chance but cabrera and hamilton are getting all the love these days on espn. pk barely gets a mention. it would help a ton if the sox caught fire again and won the division. gotta sweep the o's and win the yankees series.

  • In reply to dubsdread18:

    I just wish he'd at least get more credit for being the 3rd best hitter in the AL all year.

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