Last year, Magglio Ordonez created one of the most memorable moments in Detroit Tigers history with his home run which sent the Tigers to the World Series for the first time since 1984. This year, he had one of the greatest seasons in Tigers history and has been unanimously awarded the Tigers Player of the Year award by the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Hitting a robust .363, he was the first Tiger to win a batting title since Norm Cash in 1961. He also finished among the top five in the American League with a .434 OBP, .595 slugging average, 1.029 OPS, 54 doubles, 139 RBI and 117 runs. In another year, his numbers might have been worthy of an MVP but he will likely finish behind Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees who had an even better year for a team that reached post-season.
With 73 Runs Created Above Average (RCAA), Magglio's season ranked among the best in the history of the franchise. It was the 15th most RCAA ever for a Tiger and the most since Norm Cash had 113 in 1961.
Most of the focus has been on Ordonez's offense but his glove has been overlooked by some. The long haired right fielder had the highest Revised Zone Rating in the league and finished among the top 10 in the majors in the Fielding Bible Award voting. It was my observation that his fielding actually seemed to improve as much as his hitting. Last year, he seemed to be tentative about his previously injured knee and did not move well at all. This year, he appeared much more confident getting to almost every ball he should and making a number of sliding catches.
This year was an unexpected surprise, as he previously appeared to be on the decline with decreasing power and a bad knee at 33 years old. Since he is signed through at least 2009 and likely 2011 (two vested option years based on at bats), I feared they might get stuck with a bad contract. We still might see a bad year or two at the back end but with Ordonez appearing healthy and reinvigorated, the immediate future looks bright.