If baseball didn't learn from Carl Pavano back in 2010, it should certainly learn from Jeff Samardzija this season: Hitting Paul Konerko in the face only angers him.
In his second game back from a black eye, Konerko went 3-for-4 with a homer and three runs scored, which extended his hitting streak to nine games. Over that period, he's 17-for-30, with a glorious line of .567/.639/.900, which has elevated his status across the American League leaderboard:
- BA: .381 (1st)
- OBP: .462 (1st)
- SLG: .633 (2nd)
- OPS: 1.094 (2nd)
But his home run against Alex Burnett -- the only swing Konerko liked, by the way -- is especially cool, because it came on an 0-2 count. And that leads us to some even more incredible numbers.
Konerko's discipline in the batter's box is off the charts, and not just in terms of pitch recognition. He doesn't seem to realize when a pitcher has him against a wall.
Here's the best way to put it: Counting Wednesday's stats, Konerko is batting .321 after falling behind 0-2.
That is nuts. If you want some context, the AL is hitting .164 in such situations. Hell, the league is slugging .251 after an 0-2 count.
Or, we can look at Josh Hamilton, who has Konerko beat in slugging and OPS, and is two points behind in batting average. When Hamilton falls behind 0-2, he's hitting .171 -- although his power is still well ahead of the curve with a .371 slugging percentage.
But what is Konerko slugging after he falls behind 0-2? .714!
When describing Konerko, writers wear out the word "professional" like he wears out pitchers who don't have a breaking ball. But this is a completely different kind of hitting show, because he's operating on animal instinct. They can corner him, they can wound him, and it only makes him more dangerous.
Bonus fun fact!
Adam Dunn against lefties in all of 2011: 6-for-94, 0 HR
Adam Dunn against lefties in May of 2012: 7-for-25, 3 HR