You have to love what Rondell White has done the last three weeks. A career high hitting streak that reached 18 on Thursday and a batting average well over .300. However, Alan Trammell is the first to admit that White is not your prototypical cleanup man. The Tigers in fact have been searching for a number four hitter since Magglio Ordonez when down with a hernia in the first month. As Mom always said, "You can’t have any dessert unless you clean your plate."
Detroit has used five different cleanup hitters this season. To illustrate how important the loss of Ordonez has been to this team, consider the following numbers. Through June 1st, the Tigers had a total of 19 RBI out of the cleanup spot, the lowest total in the A.L. They also had only three homers from the four spot, ranking them 12th out of 14 A.L. teams. The thirteen walks from the four hole is also 12th in the league, indicating perhaps that opposing pitchers are not as willing to pitch around the cleanup man in the Tigers order as they are with other clubs.
This is where Ordonez comes in. Since 1999 he has averaged .313 with 23 HR and 84 RBI a season in the cleanup spot. Not too shabby. In fact his RBI and batting average totals rank among the best in the American League. Also, since 1999, only Carlos Delgado (710) and Manny Ramirez (701) have knocked in more runs from the four hole than Ordonez (506) in the A.L. The Tigers are patiently waiting for Mags to return to the lineup, hopefully around the All Star break. In the meantime, if they can stay close, the offense could get a big boost in the second half. After all, the White Sox have to come back to the pack eventually…right?