The Fall of Paul Konerko

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November 30, 2005: Paul Konerko signs with the Chicago White Sox (Age 29)
- 5 years / $60 Million

He was coming off a 136 OPS+ season along with his World Series Game 2 heroics.

Age 30: 134 OPS+
Age 31: 116 OPS+
Age 32: 78 OPS+

Is there a contemporary player we can compare Konerko to?

December 15, 2004: Richie Sexson signs with the Seattle Mariners (Age 29)
- 4 years / $50 million

He was coming off an injury-shortened 126 OPS+ campaign, but the year prior put up a 140 OPS+.

Age 30: 144 OPS+
Age 31: 117 OPS+
Age 32: 84 OPS+
Age 33: 88 OPS+ (Released)

So, is this another example of old player skills? Bill James defines the old player skill set as: power, walks, low average, lack of speed. Konerko definitely fits the bill on three of those, but low average is a little trickier. His BA has ranged from as low as .234 and as high as .313. He's a lifetime .277 hitter. Sexson appears to fit the old player skills more so than Konerko since his lifetime BA is .261 and there isn't as much variance in his range of season long BAs.

I've looked at Sexson's and Konerko's Pitch Data and nothing really stands out to me. Konerko's Contact % is down this season, but everything else looks in line. (Note, someone else might see something I missed).

The one wild card to all of this is consistency. I alluded to this above in regards to Batting Average. In Sexson's career (before his drop-off), he was consistently above 120 OPS+. With Konerko, we've gone thru this before with his 03 season. Much like this season, he was dismal with a .234/.305/.399 line. He rebounded with 4 good seasons.

So, will Konerko rebound and fulfill his last 2 years of his contract with 120 OPS+ seasons (and perhaps even rebound in time this year), or will he suffer a similar fate as Sexson?

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