Magglio Ordóñez is a professional baseball player from Coro, Venezuela. He was born there on January 28, 1974. His pro baseball career began in 1991, when he signed as an undrafted amateur free agent with the Chicago White Sox, in whose minor league system he'd spend the next six seasons, before making his Major League debut as a cup-of-coffee September call-up on August 29, 1997.
Chicago White Sox
He became a regular player the following season, hitting .282 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI in 145 games for the Sox; his performance landed him in fifth place for the American League Rookie of the Year award after the season. Magglio exploded in 1999, hitting .301 in the process of belting 31 home runs and batting in a very impressive 117 runs in 157 games. That year, he made his first appearance in the annual All-Star Game. He followed up his breakout season by hitting above .300 every season afterwards until 2004 (which was disrupted due to injury; see below), as well as hitting no fewer home runs than 29 and batting in no fewer than 99 runs during those seasons. He was awarded with the American League Silver Slugger award for his efforts during the 2000 and 2002 seasons, and he made additional All-Star teams in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
His productivity came to a crashing halt, however, on May 19, 2004, when he (playing right field) and second baseman Willie Harris collided in shallow right while converging on a short fly ball. The collision really screwed up his left knee, leading to two stints on the disabled list and two separate, risky surgeries. This limited him to only 52 games in 2004; this was particularly bad timing because he was due to become a free agent after that season. Potential suitors fell away exponentially after his first surgery, and by season's end, interest in the slugger had dwindled to only three or four teams.
One of those teams was the Detroit Tigers. Magglio's agent, the reviled Scott Boras, negotiated seriously with only the Tigers, and when the papers were signed, he'd roped in a 5-year, $75 million contract ($15 million per year) for his client. The Tigers, coming off another losing season in 2004, were desperate to inject some pop into their line-up, and felt that if Magglio could stay healthy, he could provide quite a bit of it. Nevertheless, a stipulation in the contract stated that if he were to spend more than 25 days on the disabled list for problems with his left knee, then the Tigers could absolve themselves of the contract and buy it out, at the discretion of team management, for $3 million. The previous winter, the Tigers signed catcher Iván Rodríguez, who was also coming off a season during which he was injured, and whose contract included a similar clause regarding time spent on the disabled list for the injury along with a similar buy-out option. The Tigers, in their drive to rebuild themselves into contenders, were willing to take chances on players (like Rodríguez and Ordóñez) that other teams considered too high-risk to sign, and they did so in a manner of protecting themselves from loss in an innovative way that will probably become the standard for the signing of recently injured big-name free agents in the years to follow.
Magglio's first season in Detroit started off woefully; he strained an abdominal muscle during the first week of the 2005 season and subsequently spent three months on the disabled list with a hernia that required surgery to correct. When he returned to the line-up in early July, he made an immediate impact, hitting .302 through 82 games all told.
The 2005 season was also marked by a fued of sorts with his former teammate and manager in Chicago, Ozzie Guillén. These shouting matches, which occured somewhat frequently through the national sports media during the season mostly involved one insulting the other's work ethic in a mostly back-and-forth way. The arguments had mostly died down by season's end, and were a thing of the past by the time the 2006 season started. Indeed, Guillén, who was the 2006 American League All-Star Game manager, personally selected Magglio as an injury replacement. This would seem to indicate that the two are now regarding each other in a civilized manner.
The 2006 season was a renaissance for not only Magglio, but also for the entire Tigers franchise. Magglio played injury-free throughout the whole season while hitting .298 with 24 home runs and 104 RBIs. He made it back to the All-Star Game, replacing the injured Manny Ramírez on the American League roster. He pinch hit for the starting pitcher, Detroit teammate Kenny Rogers, in the third inning. Houston's Roy Oswalt struck him out. The Tigers, meanwhile, finished 95-67, by far their best season since they last won the World Series in 1984, and their first winning season at all since 1993. They won the American League Wild Card (after losing the American League Central Division title on the last day of the season), vaulting them into the postseason for the first time since 1987. In the first round, they faced the heavily-favored American League East Division champion New York Yankees in a best-of-five game series, which they won easily, three games to one. The second round, they faced the American League West Division champion Oakland Athletics in a best-of-seven game series, which was won in a four-game sweep. Magglio himself put the exclamation point on the series victory by hitting a walk-off, game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in game four, giving the Tigers their first American League pennant since 1984 and sending the team to the World Series, where they faced the St. Louis Cardinals.
Magglio was a non-factor in the Series, which the Tigers lost, 4-1, due mostly to pitching difficulties and defensive problems, despite being favored to win against a largely mediocre Cardinals team that won twelve fewer regular season games than the Tigers and won their division with the worst win-loss record (83-78) for a division winner in decades.
His 2007 season was several orders of magnitude better than his 2006 season. Batting an extremely robust .363, he was the American League batting champion, and had the highest batting average by a Tiger since Norm Cash in 1962, while eclipsing his 2006 RBI total (104) in mid-August, finishing the season with 139, good enough for second most in the league. Leading up to the All-Star break, he was on pace to shatter the single-season mark for doubles; at the time, he was projected to hit approximately 85 of them (the record, set in 1931 by Earl Webb, is 67), although he tapered off his doubles a bit after the break. He again returned to the All-Star Game, voted by the fans to start in left field. Were it not for Alex Rodriguez's 2007 season, Magglio would have been a shoo-in for the AL MVP award; unfortunately, he had to settle for second place. He did end up winning the AL Silver Slugger award for his position, though. So that's something, at least.
On June 12, 2007, Magglio caught a fly ball for the final out to put the seal on teammate Justin Verlander's 4-0 no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers.
2008 was, statistically, a rather abbreviated season for Magglio. He hit .317 with 21 home runs and 103 RBIs, which is definitely not bad, but not really as great as he'd been in the past, particularly not as good as his heroic 2006 season. Nevertheless, the Tigers picked up his contract option for the 2009 season.
Magglio's 2009 season can be described only as a total loss. He hit .310, but most of the hits he got were singles; he had only 35 extra-base hits (out of 178 total; 24 doubles, 2 triples and 9 home runs to go with only 50 RBIs). Towards the end of the season, he was often benched, possibly to keep him from reaching 500 at-bats, which would have automatically activated his contract option for the 2010 season. Despite this, he got his 500 at-bats (518, actually) and his option was activated.
Magglio got his 2000th career hit during the 2010 season; a double off Carl Pavano of the Minnesota Twins on April 29.
He returned to form in 2010, hitting .303 in 84 games through July 24, when he broke his right ankle while sliding under a tag. Surgery was required to repair it, keeping him out for the remainder of the season. That slide may have been his last as a member of the Tigers; his contract expired at the end of the season.
On December 16, 2010, the Tigers announced that they'd signed Magglio to a one-year $10M contract. He will return to right field for the Tigers in 2011.
Magglio's 2011 season was a mere shadow of what preceded it. He hit only .255, with 5 home runs and 32 RBI. His -1.9 WAR was the only negative WAR he put up in his entire career. During the playoffs, he re-injured his ankle, seriously enough that it was announced that he was done for the remainder of the playoffs and thus the season. He seems to be pretty much done, anyway, and I'd be surprised if the Tigers re-sign him for 2012. He may end up elsewhere, no doubt in a limited role.
Indeed, the Tigers did not offer him a contract for 2012. Assuming his ankle is back to full strength in time for the season, he has said he'd like to play one more full season. However, after being unable to find a major league deal, Magglio announced his retirement in a press conference at Comerica Park on June 3, 2012.
In his reemergence as one of the game's premier hitters, Magglio is widely recognized for his ability to make contact, his power to all fields, and his tendency to hit to the opposite field in clutch situations. And although he's never won a Gold Glove for his fieldwork, he's a solid if average defensive outfielder: he made only seven errors in 258 chances (.974 fielding percentage) in 2006 while saving several runs with nine outfield assists.
If you're watching baseball on television (perhaps on ESPN Classic now that he's retired) and one of the teams happens to be the Tigers, watch for the formerly long-haired (he cut his hair off for charity in an effort to eradicate a slump in 2009) Venezuelan spraying hits to all parts of the field. That'd be Magglio. Not that the Red Sox/Yankees networks, er, I mean, ESPN or Fox SportsNet, has much cause to show a Tigers game, you might occasionally see one broadcast nationally instead of the tedious AL East rivalries that sports networks can't seem to get enough of.
Magglio's career stats stand out as quite impressive: .309 batting average; 294 HRs; 1236 RBIs; .871 OPS; 38.5 WAR. Despite these accomplishments, his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame are likely to be pretty slim.
Height/weight: 6'0" (1.82 m), 215 lbs (97.5 kg)
Birthdate/place: January 28, 1974 in Coro, Venezuela
Teams: Chicago White Sox (1997-2004), Detroit Tigers (2005-2011)
Position: Right field, designated hitter (occasionally)
Uniform number: 30
Magglio was an ardent supporter of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez before his untimely death in 2013. He has even appeared in political commercials to this end. This earned him some boos from anti-Chavez Venezuelans during his playing career. Magglio announced his candidacy for mayor of Puerto La Cruz, a city in Venezuela of about 500,000, in mid-2013.