MLB Today: It Takes a Ball in the Face to Slow Paul Konerko
Very little is slowing down Paul Konerko.
Paul Konerko is the rare creature that seems to be hitting his stride in his mid-30s. He enjoyed a career year in 2010 at the age of 34, when most players are in the downward trajectory.
But no worries… he’d slow down the next season, right? Only partially correct. Konerko put up another .300 campaign, while again topping 30 homers and 100 RBI.
Stranger yet, he’s been even better so far this season, and the only thing that’s slowed Paulie down so far was a Jeff Samardzija fastball to the head on Friday.
Konerko sat the final two games of the Cubs series and the Pale Hose had Monday off. He’s expected back in the lineup Tuesday.
Tough as nails, this Konerko dude. He’s a player that’s slowly but surely starting to put himself into Hall of Fame consideration. Not bad for a guy that looked pretty much done at the age of 32. To call Konerko underappreciated still seems like an understatement.
Now, is he going to maintain a .367 BA (third in majors, second in the AL) all season? Not on your life, especially with his strikeout rate up this year.
But even with the expected regression, he’s well on his way to another stellar season, currently ranking second in the AL in OPS to that Josh Hamilton fellow. Never heard of him, but I guess he’s pretty good.
- While we’re talking about guys in their mid-30s that keep mashing, how about David Ortiz? Big Papi smoked his second dinger in three games Monday – this one completely leaving Camden Yards to start a BoSox rally that propelled Boston to an 8-6 win over the Orioles. Ortiz is scoring a boatload of runs, his extra-base pop is looking fine, and he’s been tremendously productive in what is shaping up as his best season since 2007. A healthy diet has apparently worked wonders for the big guy.
- Considering we expected him to be a Top 70 starter and he hasn’t been close, Mike Leake has been quite a disappointment so far. But don’t give up on him yet. In fact, we suggest it’s time to pick him up in NL-only leagues after his brilliant outing Monday (eight innings, two hits, one run, six strikeouts, one walk and he hit his first career homer to boot) gave him three quality outings over his past four starts.
- After getting hammered by the Royals Monday – their sixth loss in seven games – the Yanks have fallen to last place in the AL East, marking the latest into a season they’ve been in the cellar since 2008. The slump has coincided with Derek Jeter slowing down from his turn-back-the-clock start. The Captain hasn’t gone ice cold – he’s still hit safely in seven of his last eight games – but has not had a multi-hit effort over this stretch as his BA has plummeted from .376 to .343. Still, he has as many homers and RBI as his supposedly more dangerous teammate Alex Rodriguez, and has started running, to an extent, with two steals over the past nine games. Jeter looks like a pretty good sell-high candidate, but the window may be closing.
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