As the season comes to an end, so too does Paul Konerko's career. In honor of his retirement, and to look back at his long, successful career, let's review 18 years of BP Annual comments about him, as he grew from disappointing prospect into one of the sport's most respected elders.

Year Comment
2014 It was bound to happen eventually, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch. After wobbling down the stretch in 2012, Konerko’s wheels fell off last season, as persistent back woes and a slowing bat contributed to a disastrous season at the plate. The longtime Sox captain is still a battler but when he gets his pitch he can no longer sting it, resulting in numerous fly outs that used to reach the bleachers. Sure, his balky back could improve this year, but his creaky joints are another year older, making him likely to provide more value in the clubhouse than in the lineup. He’s a future candidate for both the managerial and Hall of Fame fraternities, and in what is likely to be his final season this year a legion of grateful Sox fans will get to thank him for the ride.
2013 On June 3, Konerko's hitting was excellent (.366/.445/.617 with a .363 TAv) and the White Sox had a two-and-a-half-game lead in the American League Central. He had a minor procedure on his left wrist, returned quickly, and finished the season hitting just .263/.332/.417 after his return, while the White Sox finished three games out. While it's too facile to blame the team's collapse on its most important player the past three seasons, Paulie did set a high bar with a .327 TAv in 2010-11, not to mention his hot start. For him to suddenly turn into James Loney at the plate was a rude shock the team couldn't overcome. Lest too much blame be tossed his way, Konerko's season totals were still very good, and wrist surgery immediately following the season suggests his struggles were physical. Good health should result in another solid season.
2012 Impressive as the numbers above may be—and his late-career surge has indeed been something to behold—they go only partway to describing Konerko’s value to the White Sox. Paulie is the face of the franchise, a fan favorite and long-time team captain, a Marvin Miller Man of the Year finalist, and a voice of clubhouse sanity during an era of reality-show histrionics. His leadership skills and baseball wisdom had Kenny Williams at least momentarily considering a promotion to player/manager, an idea scotched not by concerns that he wasn’t ready to run a ballclub, but fear that the added responsibility might erode Konerko’s focus on remaining a run-producing force. Given all that, the $25.5 million he’s set to earn through 2013 (some of it deferred) will be well-earned, never mind his declining glove, ponderous baserunning, and whatever offensive value Father Time sees fit to steal away in the interim.
2011 Last year's comment that Konerko "isn't going to get any better as he ages" could not have been more decisively disproved: he set career highs in OBP, SLG, and TAv. He even tied his career-low in GIDPs, although a major factor for that was a career-low number of opportunities, a positive product of the conscious effort to play actual Ozzieball instead of just talking about it. It's fairly well-established within the sabermetric community that RBI should not count for anything, but if you haven't gotten the news, consider the uneven distribution of opportunities: Konerko drove in a slightly higher percentage of his men on base than Miguel Cabrera (18.5 percent to 18.4), but with almost 50 fewer at-bats and 90 fewer baserunners, it was utterly unsurprising that he wound up behind the league leader despite smacking one more homer. The name of the game is opportunities, and always has been. Paulie remains the most popular Sock bar none, in part because he tends to please the home fans—see his career .260 ISO at the Cell. Perhaps this three-way relationship between player, park, and patrons was on his mind when he agreed to a three-year, $3.75 million deal to continue bashing on the South Side as he heads toward the back half of his 30s.
2010 While the five-year, $60 million contract that the White Sox gave Konerko following the club's 2005 World Series title is hardly offensive, it does seem like one of those deals that was more of a payment for what a player has done as opposed to what he's going to do. Konerko had just one very good year (2006) during the deal; otherwise, he's been your standard, everyday, run-of-the-mill first baseman with a decent batting average, a decent number of walks, and some power. That combination of skills was enough for Konerko to rank eighth among American League first baseman in VORP. He's neither much of an asset nor a liability at this point. This year will likely be his last with the White Sox; possessing the dreaded "old player" skill set, the soon-to-be 34-year-old isn't going to get any better as he ages.
2009 Konerko’s 2008 looked a lot like Dye’s 2007. Hitting just .215/.325/.368 on June 15, Konerko landed on the DL with a strained oblique. After returning on July 8, he hit .267/.366/.514 with 14 homers in 60 games plus two more in the ALDS (to give him seven career jacks in 19 post-season games). Like Dye did in 2008, Konerko is likely to come close to repeating his second-half numbers this year. That’s good news for the Sox, who have Konerko under contract for two more years and can’t deal him unless he waives his five-and-ten rights.
2008 Konerko's comparables may seem to be damning him with faint praise, but when a slow slugger chugs into his 30s, his game starts spitting pistons and losing power. Konerko is a GIDP waiting to happen at the plate and last year was the third most likely batter in the AL to turn a DP opportunity into a twin killing. However, while he's not especially mobile at first base, he still throws out lead runners and starts double plays on defense much more often than, say, the more highly regarded Derrek Lee does for the cross-town Cubs, so it isn't like Konerko's a total slug. Even if his best days are behind him, this guy's still a ballplayer.
2007 One year and another fine season later, the five-year, $60-million deal the White Sox signed Konerko to last winter looks more like an asset than a liability. That`s Gary Matthews Jr. money, after all, and Konerko can not only turn on a fastball with the best of them, he`s improved his positioning and throw-scooping abilities enough to make himself at least an average defensive first baseman. Still, the Tino Martinez comparison that PECOTA cites works on a number of levels, and it`s worth noting that Martinez`s production declined markedly as of his age-31 season.
2006 Any valuation of his shiny new $60 million deal needs to account for the fact that Paul E. is the most popular athlete in the country`s third largest city at a time when the White Sox are determined to leverage their championship into long-term credibility. Konerko would be overpaid for any club but the Comiskeymen. While PECOTA expects his offense to hold up reasonably well, there`s the chance that Konkero`s defense lapses into DH territory before the Sox`s commitment to Jim Thome has expired. Another concern is injury; any slow first baseman entering his thirties is an injury candidate, and there are widespread (and unrefuted) rumors that Konerko has an arthritic hip. The White Sox are probably more aware of these risks than you`d think, just as the Red Sox were when they re-upped Jason Varitek last winter.
2005 Back on track. Konerko still doesn't walk enough to satisfy some statheads, and he's not going to win a Gold Glove, but he's proven more durable than Tommy Lasorda claimed he'd be. Admittedly, Lasorda said a few stupid things after doing a lot of stupid things in his brief regency at the end of the '90s, but the preference for Eric Karros over Konerko was the most transparent mistake. His value won't get any higher, but between Frank Thomas' big and little hurts and Paulie's popularity on the South Side, it's unlikely that the Sox will have the nerve to trade him.
2004 It's not often that we say this about a player, but Konerko's struggles in the first half might well have resulted from his taking too many pitches. He's always been a good hitter early in the count, but he'd defaulted into an overly tentative approach at the plate, improving his walk rate slightly but harming the rest of his game substantially, as he often found himself stuck making weak contact on 1-2 pitches that his slightly long swing wasn't optimally designed to deal with. His second-half line of .275/.346/.507 was almost exactly in line with what we've come to expect of him, and a reasonable benchmark for what he should produce next season, though it's worth keeping in mind that Konerko's baseball age is running a few years ahead of his biological one.
2003 Konerko started strong in 2002, but a mediocre second half returned him to his standard season. That’s not something you want to see from your 27-year-old slugger, and at this point you have to ask yourself if Konerko merits the buzz and the shiny new contract he’s got. A very popular player—he’s seen in Chicago as the no-nonsense, blue-collar antidote to Frank Thomas’s prima-donna act—but he’s running out of time to make that step up to the pantheon of elite sluggers.
2002 While the overall value of his 2001 season was about the same as his 2000 season, Konerko increased his power and his walk rate relative to the league, both good developmental signs. The AL has so many great first basemen that Konerko gets lost in the shuffle, but he's been a good hitter for three seasons and is still just 26 years old. Jeff Bagwell is a good comp for Konerko, and he had a massive power spike at 26, slugging .750 in the Astrodome in 1994.
2001 You’ve read this before in this space, but it goes double now that the Sox are moving the fences in: if the Sox hold on to Paul Konerko, he’s going to outhit that projection. He'll unleash a projectile shower that’ll give the left-field grandstand at Comiskey some hokey name like Konerko’s Korner. He’s entering a great four-year run, so if the Sox deal him now, when his value is relatively low, they’ll be making a big mistake. Considering they benched Konerko for Baines last year, it wouldn't be a total surprise.
2000 Konerko finally got the playing time and the position that the Dodgers wouldn't give him. After a sluggish start, he proved he was the hitter everyone expected him to be. Slower than a three-toed sloth caught in a bear trap set in cement, he says he's going to work on his quickness over the winter. That should be enough to shed the cement. He’s still willing to go back to third base, but that will happen only if Crede isn't ready and Manuel decides to demonize Greg Norton. Konerko was targeted by an embarrassed Tommy Lasorda for some false claims about a hip condition that the Pastaman said would ruin his career, an issue that came up only after Lasorda was ridiculed for trading Konerko. The projection above is a low starting point.
1999 Not the next David McCarty, no matter what you've read, heard, or thought. Remember that the last David McCarty was Todd Walker, who is now, what, the next Craig Biggio? Konerko needs to have two things happen to succeed in 1999: he needs to get 500 plate appearances with one team, and he needs to play one position, preferably first. Neither condition would have been satisfied with in Cincinnati, so the Reds traded him to the White Sox for Mike Cameron, where it looks like he’ll get both the time and the position.
1998 I know he played third base, but I just couldn’t list him there. Defensively, he’s not going to be good. Frank Thomas isn’t either. Who cares? Konerko reminds me of a somewhat smoother Ryan Klesko from the right side. He’s going to be great. Not just good—really great.
1997 One year away from being better than Karros. Two years away from being a lot better than Karros. Three years away from making people forget Karros. Converted catcher with power in the Klesko/Canseco/McGwire class. Going to be a star. If he were still a catcher, grade A prospect. At first base, a grade B prospect whom I like much more than the numbers.

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Having lived in Evanston for 21 years, I haven't seen Paulie as often as I've liked, but, I was glad he was in Chicago when I was. He has long since joined the pantheon of Sox greats - Thomas, Appling, Fox, Baines, etc. An easy guy to convince you to root for the team, despite the owner and the general inept operation of the franchise. Thanks for running the bio capsules from each year - cool to see the BP annual covers too!
One of my favorite parts of the website is reading through chains of player comments on player pages.
David McCarty = Todd Walker = Craig Biggio. Old comps are fun!