Thanks in large part to his performance in Seattle's 21-run outburst against Texas on Wednesday, Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak earned American League Player of the Week honors.
"I really didn't expect it," Smoak said. "I actually found out on the bus from one of my teammates. It took me a few hours to find out after they announced it."
Smoak batted .348 with a double, three home runs, eight RBIs, six walks and seven runs scored in six games last week against the first-place Rangers and White Sox.
"I am just in a better rhythm at the plate," Smoak said. "I felt like I wasn't too far off for a while even though the results didn't show it. The last few weeks, I have been ready for the fastball and tried not to do too much with it."
He unleashed the most havoc in the thumping of Texas on Wednesday, when he delivered a pair of homers and six RBIs, going 3-for-5 with a walk. He followed that with consecutive two-hit games on Friday and Saturday in Chicago.
Seattle's 21 runs were the most by a team in one game this season and the most by a Mariners club since Sept. 30, 2000, against the Angels.
Several of Smoak's teammates offered strong competition for the award, with outfielder Michael Saunders collecting 12 hits and batting .444 for the week, and infielder Kyle Seager notching four doubles and five RBIs while hitting .375. Other contenders were Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson, who hit three homers and drove in eight runs, and Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who tallied six RBIs and five stolen bases while batting .320.
This is Smoak's first career weekly award, and he is the first Mariner to earn the distinction since Ichiro Suzuki on Sept. 26, 2010. The 25-year-old was the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft by the Rangers. The Mariners acquired him in part of the package for Cliff Lee in July 2010.
Smoak, who is batting .238, leads Seattle in homers, with 10, and is second on the team in RBIs, with 29.