Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Forget Keppinger, Worry About Konerko

Quite a bit has been made of the start to Jeff Keppinger's career on the south side. Through the first six games of the 2013 season Keppinger finds himself 1-for-21 for a lovely slash line of .048/.048/.048.

Consistent in its ugliness.

And while I'd like to see Keppinger start hitting just as much as any of you, I don't think he's the problem we should really be paying attention to.

No, that would be the slow start of Paul Konerko.

We give him the benefit of the doubt because he's Paul Konerko, and while six games certainly isn't enough to really get worried about, it's important to note that the White Sox captain is 2-for-20 in his first six games for a line of .100/.143/.150.

How Konerko performs for the rest of this month could prove to be important because when we look at his history as a White Sox the month of April has been a pretty good indicator of the kind of season Paulie will have.

In his career Konerko has been a solid early-season performer, hitting .285/.358/.508 in March and April. Here's a look at how those numbers are broken down in each of Konerko's seasons as a White Sox.

So, as you can see, there are nine seasons in which Konerko finished April with an average higher than .250 and five seasons in which it was below .250. Well, here's another table to show you how each season generally turns out for Paulie based on his April performance.

As you can see, the better start he gets off to, the better season he has. However, what's important to point out is that 2005 was one of those bad Aprils and Paulie bounced back quite well, finishing the season with 40 homers, 100 RBI and a line of .283/.375/.534. If you take out the 2005 season and just look at the other four years where Konerko had a bad April the difference becomes even more drastic.

Without 2005 Konerko's line drops to .258/.339/.463 while averaging 23.75 HR, 74.5 RBI and only 138 games played.

I think the lack of games played is what worries me the most, particularly because Konerko is now 37-years old. This White Sox offense just isn't good enough to score runs consistently if it doesn't have Konerko performing to his typical Konerko levels.

And if he doesn't get it going over the rest of the month, odds are that he won't do so all season.

So you can keep your eye on Keppinger right now if you like to, I'll be hoping to see Paulie get some hits tonight and over the games to come.

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