Sep 9, 2009, 1:45 PM EDT
Magglio Ordonez had a terrible first half, hitting just .260/.330/.343 with four homers in 71 games, at which point there was speculation about whether the Tigers would keep him on the bench enough in the second half to guarantee that his playing time-based option for 2010 wouldn’t be triggered.
While he’s been far from an everyday player since then, Ordonez has played in 39 of 50 games since the All-Star break while hitting .336 and the Tigers have pulled away from the pack in the AL Central to all but wrap up the division title after finishing in last place a year ago. Ordonez now needs just 23 more plate appearances to trigger next season’s $18 million option.
As general manager Dave Dombrowski put it yesterday: “It all speaks for itself, what’s taking place at this point.” In other words, the Tigers obviously have no interest in paying $18 million for a 36-year-old corner outfielder with a .750 OPS, but Ordonez’s second-half turnaround and the team’s success made it tough to do anything about it. Not benching him has helped the Tigers go 27-23 in the second half while extending their division lead to 6.5 games.
On the other hand, given how awful the rest of the AL Central is this season the Tigers almost certainly could have won the division without Ordonez’s strong second half and shedding his $18 million salary for next year would have been awfully nice. It would’ve been interesting to see how the whole situation played out had Ordonez hit, say, .286 in the second half rather than .336.
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