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.

The Yankees could beat two 100-win teams this October

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Prior to the fifth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS, Luis Severino was dealing. He tossed 53 pitches, 42 landing for strikes, 13 fanning three batters through four scoreless innings. Justin Verlander matched him at every turn, keeping the Yankees at bay with six strikeouts through five innings (including a filthy curveball to Todd Frazier that just looked ridiculous), but it’s the Yankees who are eligible to join rare company with a win later tonight. Should they overcome a three-run deficit to defeat the Astros, either with a Game 6 victory or a Game 7 tiebreaker tomorrow evening, they’ll be the sixth MLB team to dismantle two 100+ win opponents in the same postseason.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, these are the others:

Predictably, most of the teams were World Series champions: the 2004 Red Sox, 2003 Marlins and 1988 Dodgers. The 2001 Yankees were responsible for kicking the winningest team out of the postseason after taking down the 116-win Mariners, whose record hadn’t been replicated since the 116-36 Cubs in 1906. They pushed the World Series to seven games before dropping a 3-2 nail-biter to the Diamondbacks. The 1998 Padres were even unluckier after finding themselves on the wrong end of a four-game sweep by the Yankees.

It’s not looking particularly swell for the Yankees tonight. Severino was booted in the fifth inning after Brian McCann dented the right field wall with a ground-rule RBI double and Jose Altuve cleared the bases with a two-out, two-RBI line drive. Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius put runners on corners in the sixth, but Verlander refused to relent, inducing an inning-ending groundout to preserve the Astros’ three-run lead.

Houston currently leads 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth.