Latest Detroit Tigers Lineup Is an Oldie But Goodie

Matt SCorrespondent IAugust 25, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 24:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers is greeted by Maggglio Ordonez #30 after both scored on Cabrera's two-run home run in the fifth innng against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on August 24, 2009 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Jim Leyland harkened back to yesteryear for an oldie-but-goodie blast from the past Tiger lineup last night.

Magglio Ordonez was once again slotted to hit in the three spot.

Granderson, Polanco, Ordonez, Cabrera—it was the original plan of attack for the Tigers’ offense this year and it may have become the best option for the remainder of the season.

The plan originally faltered when Ordonez struggled so mightily in that spot for much of the season’s first half. His power was gone, but even worse his average was way down. At times one would almost hope for a strikeout because contact would inevitably be turned into a double play.

But help did not arrive once Magglio was plucked from his perch. Clete Thomas was the heir to the position, but he’s only hit .212 as the Tigers’ No. 3 batter.

Magglio’s not the same hitter he was when he was deep in his slump. The power is still gone to be sure, but after some batting stance and approach tweaks he’s making better contact. In no way does anyone expect Ordonez to return to his former glory—the home runs and many of the doubles are gone—but he’s been getting on base.

The .318 batting average and 0.400 on-base percentage he’s posted in the second half are second only to Miguel Cabrera (and rookie Alex Avila if you’re counting him). With Cabby hitting behind him, Ordonez will not be counted on to drive in runs—Cabrera can do plenty of that himself if guys get on base in front of him.

Fans in Detroit have become obsessed with Magglio. We were obsessed with his hair, we were obsessed when he slumped, and we’re obsessed with his contract situation. The Tigers should be happy to return him to the heart of the order, happy to give him at bats, and happy to allow his 2010 option to vest.

The decision to return Magglio to the three hole was a good one, and not only because the Tigers won last night, but because Magglio is one of the Tigers’ best hitters.