What’s Required for a Paul Konerko Infield Hit

Who do you think is the slowest player in major league baseball? No fair guessing Bartolo Colon. Allow me to re-phrase. Who do you think is the slowest position player in major league baseball? You probably have a few names floating around in your mind. Many of them are probably catchers. I can tell you I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a worse runner than Jesus Montero. Montero wasn’t just slow, but his technique was so bad he had to spend the offseason learning how to run. Montero is a 23-year-old high-level professional athlete. That whole chapter was embarrassing. Maybe it’s still embarrassing; I haven’t seen the new, improved Montero in 2013.

Montero, then, is a candidate for MLB’s slowest player. So are other catchers, like Jose Molina. But allow me to direct your attention to Paul Konerko, who isn’t a catcher, but who is old and defensively unremarkable. Konerko has very quietly had an outstanding career, and Konerko has very quietly been perhaps the slowest player in the league. If he wasn’t the slowest player before, he certainly hasn’t gotten quicker with age.

Are you familiar with Speed Score? It’s not a wonderful metric, but it’s a metric, and last year Konerko came out at 0.8. Of the 193 players who batted at least 400 times, Konerko finished last, right behind — appropriately — Jesus Montero. We don’t have to go by Speed Score, though, because we also have a Fan Scouting Report. Setting a minimum of 500 defensive innings gives us 291 player-seasons for 2012. Konerko comes out with a speed rating of 14. That finds him in the basement, just behind Molina and Rod Barajas. We can’t say for certain, but Paul Konerko might well be MLB’s slowest position player right now.

Konerko has tripled before, but only three times since 2001. Konerko has stolen bases before, but only nine times in his life. Since 2002, Konerko has a UBR score of -56 runs, meaning he’s been a dreadful baserunner. Konerko plods. It took me a while, but I was able to track down a bang-bang play at first base with Konerko as the runner instead of the defender. From the moment of contact, it took Konerko about 4.9 seconds to set foot on the bag. Mike Trout is a full second faster. Most players are at least a half-second faster.

So, Konerko’s slow, is the point. This won’t be news to fans of the White Sox, or perhaps to fans of the White Sox’s rivals. Great hitter, great person, but, slow. And that made me wonder: what does it take for Paul Konerko to record an infield hit? We think of infield hits as having a lot to do with speed. Paul Konerko has no speed, yet last season he was credited with five infield hits, according to his FG player page. I elected to carefully review each of them. What sequences of events had to take place in order for Konerko to reach base safely on an infield grounder? What sorts of grounders, or infielders, was he beating out? We begin. Oddly, all five of Konerko’s infield hits came between July 8 and August 29.

July 8

vs. Blue Jays

Konerko1.gif.opt

Why, this isn’t a true infield hit. This is an error, and an error on Omar Vizquel of all people. At no point was a throw attempted to first base to try to get Konerko out.

July 17

vs. Red Sox

Here, we get confused. Konerko reached base twice in this game.

Konerko2_1.gif.opt

Konerko2_2.gif.opt

One of those counted as an infield hit. Neither was fielded by an infielder, or even touched by an infielder. One of them did actually graze the first-base bag. It seems if a batted ball makes contact with a base, and then goes for a hit, it counts as an infield hit? At no point was a throw attempted to first base to try to get Konerko out.

July 22

vs. Tigers

Konerko3.gif.opt

A hot-shot grounder that just eats Miguel Cabrera up. The ball gets through to the outfield, and at no point is a throw attempted to first base to try to get Konerko out. This is practically a repeat of that one grounder that got Cabrera in the face in spring training, only this time Cabrera wasn’t gotten in the face.

August 4

vs. Angels

Konerko5.gif.opt

Why, this isn’t a true infield hit. This is a fielder’s choice, with no out recorded. At no point is a throw attempted to first base to try to get Konerko out. The White Sox score! Konerko is so skilled at driving runners in.

August 29

vs. Orioles

Konerko4.gif.opt

This infield single very easily could’ve been an error on J.J. Hardy. It would’ve been ruled a single because of the difficulty of the play, but on the other hand, it was Paul Konerko running down to first. At no point is a throw attempted to first base to try to get Konerko out.

Paul Konerko is, perhaps, the slowest position player in the major leagues. If he isn’t the very slowest, evidence suggests he is at least among them. He is 37 years old, he is a first baseman, and at one point he used to be a catcher. Last season, Konerko was credited with five infield hits. After review, what’s required in order for Paul Konerko to end up with an infield hit is an error, a should-be error, a fielder’s choice, or a perplexing scorer’s judgment. Additionally required is that no attempt be made to try to get Konerko out running to first base. Konerko finished with an alleged five infield hits. Not one of them was an infield hit in the way that we usually imagine infield hits. That seems to be about right, for Paul Konerko.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

40 Responses to “What’s Required for a Paul Konerko Infield Hit”

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  1. Anon says:

    Nice concept for the article. I think Yadier Molina stealing bases would make for a good sequel.

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    • Dan says:

      The same Yadier Molina that has the most stolen bases among catchers in the past 3 years?

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      • Anon says:

        Yadier has a great first step, but is very slow beyond that. The amount of his stolen bases shows how good he is in spite of his lack of speed.

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    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      yadier is pretty athletic, so thats not all that suprising.

      cliff lee, pablo sandoval, and prince fielder all stole bases last year. personally, id love to see what pitcher/catcher combo allowed that to happen.

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      • Bryce says:

        Every time Yadi steals a base, the commentators talk up how well he reads pitchers or how smart a ballplayer he is; never his speed.

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      • Cidron says:

        straight steal? or part of a hit and run and got credited for a steal?

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        • Careless says:

          Straight steals. Speaking as a Cubs fan, it’s maddening. They just forget about him. Scouting fail.

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        • KJOK says:

          I think I saw most of Yadi’s steals this past year – and on many of them he practially had a running start right before the pitcher went into his windup.

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      • Angry Pitcher says:

        What about Cliff Lee makes you think he can steal a base? very athletic, and playing in the NL means he does see the basepaths sometimes…

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  2. seattle matt says:

    for reference, in the time it took you to read this article and make it down to this comment, that is how long it took Paul Konerko to make it to 1b.

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  3. I also nominate Morneau – he stole his first base in four or five years last year.

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  4. Kinanik says:

    A good sequel, I think, would be Edgar Martinez’s Stolen Base in 2004. That was a sight to behold.

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  5. Johnny says:

    Hey now, Konerko has an inside the parker!! That was in TB.

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  6. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Slowest all time, Bengie Molina.

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    • MIT says:

      That triple he hit to complete cycle in 2010 was magical. I, along with several others, could not stop laughing. He had to be removed from the game shortly after.

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  7. Benzedrine says:

    In video games, his speed has always been in the 40s. Makes sense.

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  8. Ian says:

    Konerko was involved in my favorite stolen base ‘event’ ever. In 08, Konerko was batting with Carlos Quinten on second and Jim Thome on first. On a 3-1 pitch, Konerko takes what everyone thought was ball 4 but, after review by the third base up, was ruled strike two. But during the delay, Quinten and Thome both jogged to second and third base for the slowest double steal in ML history.

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  9. Jon L. says:

    A tangential effect of this article is to address very clearly why Konerko is regularly listed among the best players in the game in some circles, and never ranked among the elite, statistically or otherwise, in others.

    This article was a great idea, but I don’t know if anyone could have anticipated how comical the results would be. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… 0 infield hits!

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  10. Quesrion says:

    Would it be possible to see how many of Konerko’s stolen bases were double steals? I’ve seen some slow sluggers “steal” 2nd because a speedster was on 2nd and attempted to steal 3rd on the same play. The natural instinct of the catcher is throw to 3rd in that situation, and regardless of that outcome, the guy going to 2nd gets a SB.

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  11. Corey says:

    Montero’s not just slow, he’s incredibly dumb on the basepaths, no field awareness at all.

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  12. Ruki Motomiya says:

    What about Ryan Howard’s 8 steals in 2009? How did THAT happen?

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  13. MikeS says:

    I figured the only way he could get an infield hit was 6 simultaneous heart attacks.

    BTW, multiple gif pages suck on an iPad.

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  14. Teddy says:

    I’m not saying Paulie isn’t slow but he played a lot of last year with a bum knee and at one point while dhing was literally hobbling the bases rather than running them. I can’t imagine he is down there with the Molina’s (excluding Yadi) in terms of base running.

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  15. Polka says:

    Richie Hebner is the slowest of all time…..excpet maybe Sid Fernandez when Steve Philips said it was time for weigh ins….

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  16. ilzilla says:

    What about David Ortiz hitting 2 triples in one game

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  17. rotowizard says:

    Now now, I watch some guy named Rod Barajas play catcher for the Pirates last season. This man has 2 SB is in his career. He has bunted 31 times and NEVER been on 1B for the next batter.

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  18. Ryan Gosling says:

    I’m not saying Paulie aint slow but Ben Revere, one day after having both Tommy John surgery and surgery for a torn labrum, could throw him out from deep in the hole on a chopper with Paulie still a few steps behind the throw.

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  19. tylersnotes says:

    if baseball could make konerko steal on papelbon with pena at bat, jeff sullivan would write his masterpiece.

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  20. johng says:

    Oh, come on – this is like claiming you didn’t write this artical because nobody credibly tried to stop you.

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  21. Le Vagabond says:

    This is why Paul Konerko is someone I’ve always looked up to. Incredible success despite an inability to ruin and being devoid of any athleticism. It makes me feel like i can acheive anything. It’s not just fat people who are unathletic! Thank you Paulie for representing your slow brethren.

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  22. TheGrandslamwich says:

    How about Kelly Shoppach’s epic stolen base? That’s one for the record books. At least it should be.

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  23. Dan says:

    None of those should be infield hits. If they are, it defeats the purpose of even having something called an “infield hit”.

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    • TKDC says:

      The first and last ones are arguable. The others are befuddling and really can’t be viewed as anything other than stupid mistakes by the official scorers.

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      • Dan says:

        I don’t see either as arguable, so I’m going to argue with you about them.

        First one: Why is something an infield hit because of the shape of the ballpark’s outfield wall? The ball is hit past the fielder and into the outfield. Base hit. The fact that there’s a weird wall there should be seen as entirely incidental.

        Let’s say, hypothetically, that a hitter hits an absolute missile down the line at Wrigley field and saunters slowly to first base, with the ball bouncing just right off the base of the wall and bouncing back to within the third baseman’s reach, where the third baseman picks it up. Infield hit?

        Again, calling either an infield hit defies the entire purpose of keeping track of infield hits.

        Last one: If Hardy comes up with that ball even halfway cleanly (which I’m sure he’d tell you he should be able to do about 19 times out of 20), he has tons of time to throw Konerko out at first base. This is an error.

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  24. Mike says:

    I saw Paulie hit a triple in I think ’08 against the Tigers. Curtis Granderson had a ball hit to him that knuckled like crazy, and basically took a right turn in mid-air. That would have easily been an inside-the-park home run for about 2/3 of major league players. Later on in the game, they showed a clip of his last triple, which he hit at Yankee Stadium… in 2000.

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  25. MarketMaker says:

    I’ve been saying for years that Konerko should be taught how to run in the offseason. He looks like Tom Brady running his NFL combine 40-yd dash. Obviously, Konerko will always be slow, but a little technique would probably have gotten him a 5+ more hits a year and raised his BA .010+ for his career.

    For a guy with his numbers, that might have meant a few more all-star games and a lot more money. And I honestly think it would have taken just a few sessions with a speed coach in 1 offseason.

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  26. Jacob says:

    You HAVE to get video of his inside the park HR in April 2000 against TB

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