A pair of the game's most elite sluggers capped breakout stretches over the past seven days. And on Monday, they were acknowledged for as much, as Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado were named the American League and National League Players of the Week, presented
A pair of the game's most elite sluggers capped breakout stretches over the past seven days. And on Monday, they were acknowledged for as much, as Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado were named the American League and National League Players of the Week, presented by W.B. Mason. This is the fourth such honor for each player.
Arenado did all of his damage last week at Coors Field, clubbing a tied-for-NL-high five homers while hitting .379/.419/.966 with an MLB-leading 13 RBIs over the Rockies' seven-game stretch against the Mets and Marlins for Colorado's first winning homestand of the season. And this manifested while the Rockies' bullpen gave up an MLB-high 21 runs, and just days after Arenado was mired in a career-worst 0-for-19 funk during Colorado's road trip through Philadelphia and Texas.
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"There's an incentive definitely coming to the ballpark trying to do something to help the team win somehow," Arenado said. "When we were losing and not getting hits and I wasn't doing anything to help, it hurts. It's disappointing. It keeps me up at night. It's frustrating. It feels like I'm not doing my part. So it feels good to contribute right now, help these guys out and play a part."
Arenado, who is vying for his fourth straight NL All-Star bid, is quietly putting together a season in which he's in the hunt for the NL batting title, and is tied with Matt Kemp for fifth place with a .318 average. He also ranks third in the NL with 55 RBIs, behind only teammate Trevor Story and Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who each have 58. Arenado ranks fifth in the NL with a 150 wRC+.
"Nolan over the course of his career is becoming a better hitter," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's taking what the pitchers are giving him, especially this year. You've seen over the course of May and June Nolan being pitched really tough … You're talking about one of the best players in the game, so it's not surprising that he adjusts and adapts. That's a sign of a talented player."
Cruz led all AL hitters with a .500 batting average and a 1.042 slugging percentage over 24 at-bats in six games during a road trip through the Bronx and Boston. Cruz belted three homers this week, including a Statcast-projected 465-foot shot on Friday that remains the Mariners' longest this season, bringing his season total to 20, good for fourth most in the AL. His 156 wRC+ trail only Michael Trout, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Jose Ramirez.
"I've been playing healthy for a few weeks now," Cruz said. "I think that's the difference. For me, it's just getting to be out there and play a lot of games, and the timing will come."
Said Mariners manager Scott Servais: "He continues to grind it and work his tail off. He had a great week, got the results we've all been looking for. This last week has been exceptionally hot for him."
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.