The Seattle Mariners' superstar Ichiro Suzuki is probably not the first player that comes to mind when you hear the words "slugger" or "home-run hitter." In fact, Ichiro does not even have 100 home runs in his 10 year MLB career so far.
So why do people even talk about Ichiro as deserving of a go in the Home Run Derby?
It's because, despite his reputation for being a slap-singles hitter, the power turns on at will during batting practice. And that's what the Derby really is, batting practice. You know what's coming and you smack the cover off the ball.
Those who have seen Ichiro taking batting practice before a game have been rewarded with the rare treat of seeing him hit screaming line drive after line drive, off of the dining lounge above the right field seats in spacious Safeco Field.
Ichiro's slight build and international reputation could breathe life into a Home Run Derby that, aside from Josh Hamilton's unforgettable 2008 first round, has been largely lack-luster.