Magglio Ordonez may not have had an ideal 2011, but he'll always be a Tiger to us.
Just like last year, we'll be grading all the Tigers who contributed significant playing time over the course of the season, starting with the position players, then doing the rotation members, and finally finishing up with the bullpen and writing profiles for players without enough playing time to earn a grade. Each list will run in alphabetical order. These reviews will occasionally dip into sabermetrics so we can get a better idea why things happened, but I'll try to explain as we go through things.
OK. I'm going to do this a bit different. Sure, that might be cheating. But this is my site and I don't mind. I'm not going to do a traditional grade of Magglio Ordonez like I have for the other players. He hasn't cracked 100 games during the past two seasons. He battled injuries and batted completely unlike himself. If he was given a proper grade like the other players, I think we all know it wouldn't be a good one.
Magglio's career in Detroit may even be coming to an end. In August, he thought about hanging up the bat because everything was just going so bad for him, and his recovery from surgery on a broken ankle seemed to be slow. Some fans at the time wished he'd hang it up, too. The Magglio of old was gone. The Magglio of present was struggling to contribute anything at all but had plenty of playing time to struggle in. For some, it was hard to watch. For others, "What have you done for me lately?" was the prevailing thought.
Then a funny thing happened: Like a phoenix, Magglio came out of the ashes in September and played an important role. In 12 games, he hit .419 with an OPS of better than 1.000. Magglio was back! He did even better in the divisional series against the Yankees, hitting .455 with an OPS of 1.045.
Just as the comeback story was catching firm ground, disaster again. The same ankle gave out. So Ordonez had to be replaced on the ALCS roster after just one game. He again had surgery in the offseason. MLB.com's Jason Beck suggests he will not be retiring, as some posited in October. However, if he does put on an MLB uniform again it's almost certain it won't be Detroit's.
It's a shame he wont finish his career in Detroit, but I don't think we'll remember him any less.
For his Tigers career, which spanned seven seasons, Magglio hit .312 with an .849 OPS. He hit 107 home runs and drove in 533 RBI. Not bad for a guy who led many experts to question the Tigers sanity in 2005.
What a long way we've come since 2005. When Magglio signed a five-year deal with two option seasons, the team was really only Pudge Rodriguez and a couple of others. Pudge had been in Detroit just one year. The others, some of whom went on to play important roles in the Tigers' resurgence, were little known or discards of other teams. We knew Magglio's signing could help put the Tigers back on the map, but it was risky from the start due to an experimental knee surgery.
It turns out, the Tigers' risk was rewarded. Magglio had his hiccups and a few non-knee injuries in that first year, but hit a walkoff home run the next year that sent the Tigers to the World Series. In 2007, he batted an amazing .363 to win the batting title. He stumbled a bit in early 2009, but regained it in 2010. By the time his season came to a premature end in July of that season, he completed finished a fourth consecutive season of .800 OPS or better.
This year was almost a microcosm. Ups and downs, low points and high. Numbers so poor that it's hard to even picture them next to Magglio's name.
So for 2011, the grade wouldn't be pretty. But for his Tigers career, he gets an A.