|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
CHICAGO -- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko has never won an MVP, home run or RBI crown or led the league in batting average, but that didn't stop his manager from stumping for his place among the greatest to ever play the game.
"He will be in the Hall of Fame," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Sunday. "And by the way, PK did it clean, there's no doubt he did it the right way."
Konerko is coming off a 2010 campaign that was the best of his career. At age 34, he posted career highs in on-base percentage (.393), slugging percentage (.584), and total bases (320). So far this season, Konerko is backing up his amazing 2010 -- he had 20 home runs, 51 RBIs, a .320 average and a .953 OPS entering Sunday. He is a strong candidate to make his fifth All-Star Game.
The Hall of Fame will have to change the way it evaluates players, Guillen said, since the previously accepted standards of excellence may not be reached as often.
"The Hall of Fame can be too picky, there's not that many good players out there anymore," Guillen said. "You're not going to see the 3,000 hits, the 500 home runs and 300 wins."
With a few more years, Konerko could get well over 400 home runs and possibly make a push for 500. Konerko, who is signed through the 2013 season, currently sits at 381 home runs, good for 60th all-time.
For his part, Konerko doesn't concern himself with Hall of Fame talk or the fact that he's rarely mentioned in the same breath as other great American League first basemen such as the Red Sox's Adrian Gonzalez and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera.
"If it's outside the lines, it's meaningless to me," Konerko said.
Guillen said that Konerko is a rare breed in today's game.
"This man represents the game in different ways, the right way," Guillen said. "With the media, with his teammates, with the organization, on the field and with the community; that's a lot."
On the topic of future Hall of Famers, Guillen had a few thoughts on a sure-fire entrant -- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
"You're talking about God now, you're not talking about a baseball player, you're talking about God," Guillen said. "Besides Jim Thome, he represents this game better than anybody. That guy is a baseball icon, great player, a winner, never been in trouble, and dates beautiful women."
Jeter moved within seven hits of 3,000 with a multihit game Sunday. Guillen said he hoped Jeter would accomplish the rare feat at Wrigley Field because it would be great to have such a historic moment at a historic park. Jeter would be the 28th player to join the 3,000 hit club. The Yankees play a three-game set with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley starting Friday.Sahadev Sharma covers the White Sox and Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.