Konerko looking like early MVP candidate

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
11:37
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko, the Chicago White Sox’s ageless slugger, has not only picked up where he left off before getting hit in the face last week. He appears headed toward an MVP season. Konerko has produced base hits at a clip beyond baseball’s hottest early-season slugger Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers.

[+] EnlargePaul Konerko
David Banks/Getty ImagesIn the midst of a 10-game hitting streak, Paul Konerko is leading the AL in hitting.

Consider that at age 35 while most hitters are beginning to slow down in their production, Konerko has improved his numbers and approach. He is now leading the American League with a .384 batting average. The White Sox captain also extended his hitting streak to 10 games while hitting his 10th home run on Thursday night. He has recently taken his game to a new level, going 16-for-24 with four home runs and 8 RBIs in his past seven games.

“In our offense everything we do well revolves around Paul “ said Alex Rios, who along with Konerko was one of five White Sox hitters to hit home runs in Thursday’s win over the Twins. “Everyone in our lineup is getting better pitches to hit because of his approach and his results.”

Konerko’s numbers are impressive enough to put him in the conversation for early MVP mention. He is first in the league in on-base percentage and second to Hamilton in slugging.

“I think he should be included every year in MVP consideration,” said A.J. Pierzynski. “He is very underrated even though he has been a great player for a long time. Unless you see him every day and see how he makes adjustments from pitch to pitch, it’s really amazing. He deserves more National credit than he gets.”

Konerko has not won an MVP, though he has twice finished in the top six in voting for the award (in 2010 and 2005).

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.20 198 168
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .319
HRJ. Abreu 35
RBIJ. Abreu 103
RA. Ramirez 78
OPSJ. Abreu .975
ERAC. Sale 2.20
SOC. Sale 198