Ordonez AL's best player in August
Tigers slugger rewarded after huge offensive month
DETROIT -- Magglio Ordonez probably could have been voted American League Player of the Month at any given time this season.Ordonez, the Majors' leading hitter at .355, has remained consistent over the first five months of the season but never received the honor. His stats over the first four months of the season were incredibly similar: April: .344 average, 26 RBIs
May: .346, 23 RBIs
June: .421, 19 RBIs
July: .278, 20 RBIs
"It could have been any of those times, but there's a lot of ballplayers in this league, so it's hard to single one guy out," Ordonez's teammate, Ryan Raburn, said. "He's had a great year for us and he's been our go-to-guy."August was finally too much to ignore. Ordonez was named AL Player of the Month for August after hitting .393 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in 29 games. "He's just had one of those years from top to bottom so far," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's been solid throughout the whole season. He's had a tremendous, tremendous year and continues to have it. He deserves anything he gets along those lines in terms of individual awards. I'm all for that stuff." It has been a career year for the quiet slugger, who generally shies away from the media. Instead, opponents and teammates have had plenty to say about Ordonez. "He looks like he's hitting the ball real well," A's manager Bob Geren understated after Ordonez homered twice in the same inning against Oakland on Aug. 12. Ordonez became just the second player in the 107-year history of the Tigers to homer twice in the same inning when he did it in the second inning against the A's. Al Kaline, who did it in 1955, was the only other Tiger to accomplish the feat. "The guy is seeing beach balls right now," A's pitcher Chad Gaudin said of Ordonez two days later. While Ordonez has been amazingly consistent so far this year, August yielded his best home run total. His 10 homers in August gave him 26 for the season. He needs 12 in September to tie his career high of 38, set in 2002, when he finished eighth in the AL Most Valuable Player voting. Nagging injuries have hampered Ordonez since 2002, but little has slowed him this season. A sports hernia and knee problems have subsided. The only issue is a bit of a heel injury which Leyland has monitored closely. Leyland said he considered using Ordonez strictly as a designated hitter in Tuesday's game against the White Sox. Ordonez didn't want to hear any of it. "He was not crazy about DHing," Leyland said. "I think he feels better offensively when he plays the outfield, now and then he doesn't mind DHing, but it's not something that he likes." Ordonez remains in the discussion of AL MVP this season, though he trails the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in homers and RBIs. Either way, people have certainly taken notice of Ordonez this season. "Well, the numbers speak for themselves," Raburn said. "I'm sure everybody in the baseball world knows about it. We're not the only ones."
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.