Gardner earns AL Player of the Week honors

Yankees outfielder's showing at the plate plenty for 3rd career recognition

Gardner earns AL Player of the Week honors

ANAHEIM -- Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner is enjoying one of the best stretches of his career, relishing his standing as a consistent annoyance for opposing pitchers. It is a hot streak that has now been recognized with an American League Player of the Week Award.

Gardner led the AL in hits, runs, on-base percentage, slugging and total bases last week, batting .500 (13-for-26) with nine runs, two home runs, four doubles, six RBIs, a .581 on-base percentage, an .885 slugging percentage, 23 total bases and five walks.

"I've just been swinging the bat well, getting good pitches to hit," Gardner said. "It helps when the guys in front of you are getting on base, giving you chances to drive them in. It seems like guys up and down the lineup have been swinging the bats pretty well and scoring some runs, and getting on base. The guys have been doing a good job of driving me in."

It is Gardner's third career weekly honor, with the last coming on Aug. 3, 2014, and could bolster his case to make his first AL All-Star team. That honor would likely come as a reserve, and Gardner said that gaining entry via the player vote would be meaningful to him.

"That'd be cool. I think that's probably a way more accurate representation of the guys that are really meant to go represent your team and represent the league," Gardner said. "I know when I fill out my ballot, I put a lot of time and thought into it."

Gardner reached base safely in all five plate appearances for the first time in his career on Monday against the Phillies. He went 4-for-4 with his MLB-leading fifth three-run homer.

Over an eight-game span concluding with a two-hit performance on Friday, Gardner went 18-for-37 with 12 runs scored, three doubles, one triple, four homers, 10 RBIs and three walks to raise his average from .262 to .294.

"I think he's become a complete player," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's not just a leadoff hitter who plays good defense. He's a guy who drives in runs, and does a lot of different things for your offense."

Gardner became the first Yanks player to record at least 18 hits, 12 runs, four homers and 10 RBIs over an eight-game span since Don Mattingly in 1987, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

This week, Gardner also recorded six hits in six consecutive at-bats between Monday and Tuesday for the second time in five games (also June 19-20). He is the first MLB player to accomplish that feat since Tommy Helms of the Reds did it over a four-game stretch in 1969, according to Elias.

"I think the biggest thing for me was just learning to use the whole field," Gardner said. "... I realized that for a while, guys pitched me in a lot and tried to get me out. I know I'm not a home run hitter, but if guys come in there, at least be in position where I can try and hit a ball hard."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.