Brock & Salk debate cause of Ichiro’s slump

Jun 13, 2011, 2:53 PM | Updated: 3:38 pm

Some observers have been quick to cite Ichiro’s age as the reason for his prolonged slump. (AP) staff

A pair of two-hit games following a one-game benching over the weekend bumped Ichiro’s batting average to .258, still 70 points below his career average.

The potential causes of Ichiro’s struggles — whether it’s merely a slump or the signs of a steep and sudden age-related decline — was a debate waged Monday on Brock & Salk.

The impetus of the conversation was Steve Kelley’s column in The Seattle Times in which he contends that “at 37, there’s no doubt (Ichiro is) losing his legs, and we very well could be watching a superstar in a rate of decline more rapid than we expected.”

Mike Salk disagrees with that notion, pointing to Ichiro’s .328 average in April as evidence that his paltry May and June totals can’t necessarily be attributed to age.

“So you’re telling me that between April and May Ichiro got old?” Salk said. “… Now maybe you can say in a month that Ichiro has gotten hurt. Maybe you can in a month something has happened to Ichiro. But in a month Ichiro got old?”

Brock Huard says the stats indicate that Ichiro’s age should at least be considered as a possible explanation.

“He’s the worst defensive right fielder covering the least amount of space,” Huard said. “The numbers show he’s been in a slump, prolonged slump unlike any others in his career. Your eyes would tell you he’s not beating out balls and getting to plays that you’ve seen in the past. So, there’s enough numbers over the last roughly two months to indicate to Steve Kelley that he can make and write that point.”

Salk’s counter: “Ichiro’s had a bad month or two. I’m not saying he hasn’t, he’s been lousy, and maybe he’s done, we just don’t know the answer to that yet. It’s a possibility that Ichiro has turned a corner and unfortunately it’s going in the wrong direction. But you can honestly watch Ichiro for a couple of months and declare him done and declare his legs done and declare all of the things that make Ichiro special to be not relevant anymore?

“I’m not sure I can do that. I can get on Ichiro for specific examples and I think there are times I feel he needed to lay out for balls or get to balls he didn’t get to or give maximum effort or change a little piece of who he is. But Ichiro is one of the great players ever to play this game doing it his way, he’s in impeccable shape, and at 37, to declare him done, that seems surprising to me.”

You might also be interested in…

As Ichiro goes, so goes the Mariners’ offense

Brock & Salk: Can the Mariners afford not to be sellers?

Jeff Sullivan: A closer look at Ichiro’s struggles

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