It was only two years ago when Manny Ramirez was one of the best outfielders in all of major league baseball. Since his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ramirez never produced numbers of any significance and decided to retire only weeks after signing with the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this season.
Johnny Damon, who was among the best outfielders a few years ago as well, also signed with the Rays earlier this year, but his production had been decent enough to keep him in the starting lineup.
Having to deal with a struggling superstar is no easy task, and the Rays are by no means the only team having that problem this season. With a new generation of outstanding athletes entering the league every year, it's no surprise that the older stars are starting to decline.
2011 Stats: 30 R, 0 HR, 20 RBI, 14 SB, .264
By no means is Ichiro at the end of his career in MLB, but his statistics through the first few months of the regular season may be an indication that he's starting to decline.
He has never been a huge power producer, so his numbers so far in those categories are surprising. The problem lies with his .264 average because if he can't get on base, he really isn't an offensive threat at all.
Last season, Ichiro hit .315 and stole 42 bases, which is pretty typical of the numbers he's put up throughout his entire career. If his average continues to hover around the Mendoza Line for the rest of the season, it wouldn't be a shock to see a decrease in rest of his production.
The fact of the matter is Ichiro is already 37 years old, and while he still has a good chance to turn his season around after the All-Star break, it just may be that point in his career where he doesn't put up the same elite numbers he always has.
2011 Stats: W/L 4-5, 67 K's, 6.32 ERA, 1.54 WHIP
Ryan Dempster has been one of the best pitchers for the Chicago Cubs since his arrival in 2004. After he transitioned from a relief pitcher to a starter in 2008, his numbers have been spectacular.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, Dempster has been anything but spectacular this season, and his numbers are proof of that.
In his last 10 starts, Dempster has failed to get out of the sixth inning five times and allowed at least five earned runs in each of those starts. Dempster is only 34 years old, so this may just be a bad start, but it's not out of the question to think that there's no where to go but down for him.
2011 Stats: W/L 3-5, 21 K's, 7.60 ERA, 1. 69 WHIP
John Lackey had a great seven years with the Anaheim Angels, starting with a World Series victory in 2002.
In the past two seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Lackey has struggled, and his numbers this year are horrific. In his last eight starts, Lackey allowed eight or more earned runs in three of them and only struck out more than three batters one time.
It's unfortunate to see a decline in a superstar pitcher who still potentially has five or more years left in his career, but that may be the case for Lackey. If his production doesn't get better soon, Boston may decide they've had enough and drop him from the rotation.
2011 Stats: W/L 1-5, 67 K's, 4.25 ERA, 1.41 WHIP
After an outstanding season in 2010 where he almost won the Cy Young award, Chris Carpenter has struggled tremendously in 2011.
Carpenter only has one victory, but his lack of run support is definitely the main reason why. Still, his ERA and WHIP are nowhere near what he's capable of and can only make one think that he's on the decline.
Over his last three starts, Carpenter has allowed only two earned runs in each outing, which is a good sign that he still has some work left in his arm. Being 36 years old, he doesn't have many years left in his career anyway, regardless of how well he pitches.
2011 Stats: 25 R, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 2 SB, .257
Carlos Lee started off pretty terribly last season but finished off strong with 24 home runs and 89 RBI.
He hasn't really done much this season either, with numbers nowhere close to his All-Star performances in 2005-2007. Playing on a team that has no chance of making the playoffs has to take its toll on Lee, and he probably won't be in Houston much longer.
Plus, Lee is already 34 years old, so it's not too big of a surprise that his numbers are declining. Given the past couple seasons, it's safe to say he's no longer the elite outfielder that he used to be.
2011 Stats: 13 R, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB, .178
Jorge Posada had highly publicized arguments with his coaches this year, after he was placed ninth in the batting order. Soon after there was talk that Posada wanted to retire before this season ended, but it looks now as if he'll stay along for the ride.
Posada no longer catches for the New York Yankees, which is a blessing in disguise for him, because he doesn't have much juice left in his 39-year-old legs anyway.
With his horrible start this season, it wouldn't be a surprise to see at least one of the core four leave after the year ends.
2011 Stats: 17 R, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, .176
Adam Dunn has always been one of the best power hitters in the league, with multiple seasons of at least 40 jacks.
Usually that power comes along with a horrible average, considering he is only a .248 career hitter. This year however, his average and power production has dropped significantly, raising the question of how much time he has left in his career.
Managers can take a .176 ave (maybe) if Dunn hitting a homer every time he gets a hit, but that is certainly not the case this season. It is a bit of a surprise to see his numbers so low, considering he is only 31 years old, but he needs to find a way out of this slump if he wants to stay in the league much longer.
2011 Stats: 34 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 5 SB, .260
Who saw this one coming, huh?
Still, statistics do not lie, and maybe everyone is now realizing that Jeter is only human and cannot stay elite for the rest of his life.
Playing on the Yankees, Jeter should always score a good amount of runs, but his power numbers and average are the categories that need serious help. His average is now at .260, which is much better than it was at the beginning of the season, but it's still looking as if Jeter is showing huge signs of decline.