Appreciating the near-greatness of Magglio Ordonez

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Note: I originally wrote this on October 10, but with today’s news that Ordonez is close to retiring I figured it was worth re-posting.

Magglio Ordonez is 37 years old, coming off the worst season of his 15-year career, and will miss the rest of the Tigers’ playoff run after re-fracturing his right ankle, so there’s already speculation about him retiring.

If he’s indeed finished Ordonez goes out on a series of low notes, but it’s worth remembering how productive he’s been over the years.

Ordonez never became a household name and had just one top-10 finish in the MVP voting, but he was selected for six All-Star teams and ranks as one of the best right-handed hitters of his generation.

In fact, among all active right-handed hitters with at least 5,000 career plate appearances Ordonez ranks sixth in OPS:

Albert Pujols      1.037
Manny Ramirez       .996
Alex Rodriguez      .953
Miguel Cabrera      .950
Vladimir Guerrero   .931
MAGGLIO ORDONEZ     .871

Manny Ramirez is technically “active” because he played at one point this season. Other top right-handed hitters like Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, David Wright, Hanley Ramirez, and Kevin Youkilis also rank ahead of Ordonez in OPS, but they haven’t cracked the 5,000-plate appearance mark yet and comparing their career numbers to his is misleading because they’ve yet to go through the decline phase.

However you slice it, Ordonez was one of the dozen or so best right-handed hitters of the past 20 years.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.