Magglio Ordonez officially retired on Sunday and the Detroit Tigers threw a little party for him before the game. The celebration was later credited by Jim Leyland as part of Justin Verlander's problems against the Yankees in the game that was played after the ceremonies were over. Those two facts were probably fitting as they tied the career of Ordonez in a bow. Magglio Ordonez could flat out rake when he was healthy, which wasn't often during his last few years. And he became far known for being a bit of a contract albatross than for the terrific player he was in his career.
Let's be clear up front. Magglio Ordonez was not a Hall of Fame caliber player. He was a less than stellar outfielder who had magic in his bat. That bat had one last great moment against the Yankees in the 2011 ALDS. That series, Ordonez's last gasp as a player, showed that he played four games and came to the plate twelve times. He delivered five hits and a walk for a .455 series average. It was a fitting cap for Ordonez's career.
But that was just the fitting cap on a career that had some terrific memories. If not for the amazing season A-Rod had for the Yankees in 2007, Ordonez would have been the MVP. He had 216 hits that season and won the batting title with a .363 batting average. He hit 28 homers that season and an incredible 54 doubles. He drove in 139 runs. It was by far his best seasons. But he had other great ones too.
Ordonez batted over .300 in ten of his fifteen seasons. He drove in over 100 runs, seven times. He was an All Star six times and won three Silver Slugger Awards as the best hitter at his position (right field). Magglio Ordonez had a terrific career.
Whenever a player of his caliber retires, the kid inside this baseball writer wants to pour over the numbers like the backs of baseball cards. And one of the cool features at Baseball-reference.com is at the bottom of each player's page that lists other players that have played the game that are comparable to the player that you are looking at. This helps give a frame of reference to what kind of player we are looking at.
When it came to looking at Magglio Ordonez for this piece, looking at the "comps" was particularly intriguing because Ordonez's closest comp was Moises Alou. After staring at those two player pages over and over, the comparisons are amazing. This was basically the same player. One played his career as a National League player and the other in the American League. One was a left-fielder and the other a right-fielder. Both were similarly drubbed for their defense. B-R gives Alou a -10.8 dWAR for his career and Ordonez a -11.8. But they were the same offensive players.
Here is a comparison of their final statistics.
Career slash line: Ordonez: .309/.369/.502. Alou: .303/.369/.516
OPS+: Ordonez: 125. Alou: 128
Homers: Ordonez: 294. Alou: 332
Doubles: Ordonez: 426. Alou: 421
Total Bases: Ordonez: 3506. Alou: 3629
Hits: Ordonez: 2156. Alou 2124
Baseball-Reference.com does another thing that is interesting. For each player, the site breaks down their average season, based on 162 games played. The numbers get really close when looking at those breakdowns:
Ordonez: 679 plate appearances, 612 at bats, 94 runs, 189 hits, 37 doubles, 26 homers, 108 RBI, 8 stolen bases 57 walks, 76 strikeouts.
Alou: 680 plate appearances, 587 at bats, 93 runs, 178 hits, 35 doubles, 28 homers, 107 RBI, 9 stolen bases, 61 walks, 75 strikeouts.
They were virtually the same player. Both great, both lost time due to injuries. Both were not great enough for a long enough period of time to accumulate the counting stats needed for the Hall of Fame.
Magglio Ordonez was a terrific player for the White Sox and the Tigers over the years. He should be celebrated by both organizations and their fans. He was a terrific batsman and it was a pleasure to watch him during his career.