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Is Drafting Magglio Ordonez a Hairy Proposition?

In 2007, Magglio Ordonez posted a .363-28-139-117-4 line, easily his best work in five years. However, he did this in large part thanks to a .385 BABIP, the fifth-highest mark in the majors. In 2008, with a still-high .338 BABIP, Ordonez checked in with a .317-21-103-72-1 line. According to the RotoTimes Player Rater, it was the 47th-best hitting season in the majors last year.

The latest numbers over at Mock Draft Central have Ordonez with an ADP of 64. With 10 pitchers with a higher ADP than 64, the mockers are expecting at least a little fall back from Ordonez in 2009.

In order to justify that ADP, Ordonez will need another high BABIP. Fortunately, all five of the projection systems see him bettering his lifetime mark of .320 in the category. Ordonez has always been a good line drive hitter, he does not strike out very much and even at age 34, he ran well enough to beat out 11 infield hits last year.

But what can we expect from Ordonez in the power categories? For five straight seasons, Ordonez hit 29 or more home runs. But in his last three healthy years, he has posted HR totals of 24-28-21. The easy answer is that he went from a great park for homers in Chicago to a merely good one in Detroit.

From 2000-2002, Ordonez hit 62 HR at home and 39 on the road. Contrast that to 2006-2008, when he hit 38 HR in Comerica compared to 35 on the road.

But it is not just the ballpark. Pitchers seem to fear Ordonez less than they used to back in his Chicago days. Last year, he saw fastballs on 63.9 percent of his pitches, an unusually high number for a 30-HR threat. That was the 23rd-highest percentage of fastballs by any batter in the majors. He is surrounded on the list by weak-hitting middle infielders and catchers, and outfielders with no power. Among power hitters, only Matt Holliday and Manny Ramirez saw a greater percentage of fastballs.

The projection systems show him hitting 20-24 HR in 2009. It would not be unreasonable for him to meet these projections but at the same time it seems clear that his 30-HR days are a thing of the past.

Bottom line is that while Ordonez is capable of meeting his ADP, there is absolutely no upside if you spend an early sixth-round pick on him. And while there is nothing wrong with a player matching what you expect from him, you have to counter that with the risk involved. With Ordonez, the risk is that his BABIP fails to meet the lofty expectations and instead of being a plus with a .310+ AVG he ends up being neutral or even a negative in the category.