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Konerko prefers this offense to 2005

4/11/2014

CHICAGO -- Bold statements aren't Paul Konerko's thing, but he has witnessed enough of the current Chicago White Sox offense to make one.

Asked if rookie Jose Abreu would have fit in with the 2005 World Series champions, who were known for their knack of situational hitting, Konerko didn't hold back.

"He's thinking out there; he's not just up there hacking," Konerko said of Abreu. "That's how the '05 team was. We had guys who were situationally good, but I think this offense would be way better than that offense was."

Really?

"Yeah, for sure, because it seemed like that offense that year just did enough to win. I feel like we can maybe blow out a few more people with our offense here. But then again, that pitching on that team was pretty darn good. You wouldn't have to score as much."

Indeed, the White Sox weren't a dominating offense in 2005, but what they lacked in consistency, they more than made up for in an ability to deliver when the pressure was on. They were merely ninth in the American League in runs scored during the regular season with 741. The Boston Red Sox led the AL with 910.

Their .262 team batting average was just 12th in the AL and their .322 on-base percentage was 11th.

A week and a half into this season, the White Sox led the major leagues in runs per game (6.10) and home runs (15). They were second in batting average .287, OPS (.820), slugging percentage (.472) and on-base percentage (.348).

The offense is seeing a ton of pitches at the top of the lineup, while the bottom of the lineup has Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers who are batting .421 and .444 respectively. Avisail Garcia is no longer in the middle of the order after his season-ending shoulder injury, but Konerko still likes the look of the current team.

"That [2005] lineup had kind of a switch where if we were down a run or two we could manufacture and score some runs," Konerko said. "But I would say maybe this team has more guys that are almost as good as the guys that were on that team but at far younger ages.

"I don't know how you look at that or grade that out. We had some good hitters on that team and all that, but most of the guys on that team were in their prime at least, 28, 29, or older so it kind of made sense, whether it was [Scott] Podsednik, myself, [Aaron] Rowand or any of those guys. But I feel like we have guys here who could hold their own with that type of lineup, but they're a lot younger so that's got to be better, right?"

Konerko was obviously the heart and soul of that 2005 team, while Abreu is developing into the pulse of the current squad. And from what he has witnessed so far, the captain feels that he is passing the torch to the right guy.

The two hitters do have their differences, though.

"For me, when I was younger, I could pull the ball great, but those days when guys were hitting spots out over and throwing good sliders, I just didn't have enough ability to pick up hits the other way until I started getting older," Konerko said. "But I think [Abreu] can kind of do whatever. And he's also not that young so he should be more polished.

"He's what, 26 years old? So I don't look at him as a rookie. I know it's his first year here, but he's played against high-level competition, high-level pitching and you can see that his swing is accustomed to that."

In his new role as a late-inning pinch hitter and occasional designated hitter or first baseman when a left-hander is on the mound, Konerko also provides words of encouragement to teammates when he sees fit. He hasn't felt the need to say anything to Abreu.

"It's all there, it's just a matter of repeating it over and over and that's really the only thing," Konerko said. "There is no difference between him out there than anybody else that's in the lineup around him that's a four, five, six hitter. He can do it all."