Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/25/13
In 2010 and 2011, Paul Konerko topped the 100-RBI mark for the first time since 2006, giving him six 100-RBI seasons in his 14 years as a full-time player.Last season Konerko saw his RBI total fall by 30 despite amassing just 40 fewer plate appearances. He still batted .298 on the season while clubbing 26 homers, but his .158 ISO with men on base paled in comparison to his .211 mark with the bases empty. For his career, Konerko has a .203 ISO with men on and a .238 ISO with the bases empty, so while his numbers were down in both cases — aren’t almost all offensive numbers down these days? — his performance in RBI situations was drastically lower.That’s why I’m not too worried about Konerko, though. He’s getting to the point where his skills, and thus his numbers, could rapidly deteriorate at any moment, but despite the trouble driving runners in he was still able to post a line drive rate over 22% for only the second time since 2006 while keeping his strikeout rate at 13.9%. Konerko hasn’t struck out this infrequently since 2003.His lack of fly balls in recent seasons is concerning and will limit his home run total, but Konerko could be a nice buy-low option this year if people in your league start to worry about his age.At a GlanceStrengths: RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPSNeutral: HRWeaknesses: R, SBPlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Billy Butler (KC)Likely scenario: David Ortiz (BOS), Adam LaRoche (WAS), Kendrys Morales (SEA)Worst-case scenario: Nick Swisher (CLE)Paul Konerko 2013 Fantasy ProjectionKonerko has moderate power (25+ HR) and should threaten 100 RBI with his combination of high batting average and solid players ahead of him. Alejandro De Aza is an underrated leadoff man who stole 26 bases last year on the strength of a .349 OBP, and despites striking out over one third of the time en route to a .202 average, Adam Dunn has one of the best walk rates in the league every season.With his recent trend towards line drives and away from fly balls, a .300+ average is in play once again, but despite his great on-base ability (.393, .388, .371 OBPs last three years) Konerko might have less footspeed than anyone else in baseball. The 70 runs we project from him might be a as much as you can reasonably hope to see.After the first and second tiers of first basemen, you’ll find yourself choosing between several last-ditch options such as Konerko, Ike Davis, David Ortiz, Eric Hosmer, and Adam LaRoche. Of that group only Konerko and Ortiz are legitimate threats for a .300/30/100 season. Obviously it comes with some downside as well, namely run-scoring ability, but if that’s the kind of player you’re looking to man first base for your team in 2013, Konerko is an undervalued option with a current ADP of just 112.4.
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