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: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.