Minnesota Twins left fielder Josh Willingham has been named the American League Player of the Week for the period ending April 15th. This is Josh’s second career Player of the Week honor, his first since winning the National League’s weekly award with the Washington Nationals in 2009. The announcement was made earlier today on MLB Network.
In six games last week, Willingham batted .455 (10-for-22) with a double, three home runs, four RBI, three walks and six runs scored. The 33-year-old finished first among A.L. leaders in slugging percentage (.909), tied for first in homers, was second in on-base percentage (.538), third in batting average, hits and total bases (20) and tied for third in runs scored. Additionally, Willingham ranks second in the Majors on the season in on-base percentage (.514) and slugging percentage (.871), is tied for second with four home runs and is third overall with a .419 batting average.
On Monday, April 9th, Willingham went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, accounting for Minnesota’s only run scored as the Twins dropped their home opener to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 5-1, at Target Field. Willingham’s fourth-inning homer was his second of the season after hitting his third career Opening Day round tripper on April 6th in Baltimore (also done in 2008 and 2011). On Wednesday against the Angels, the Florence, Alabama native launched a two-run blast in the fourth inning to give the Twins their first lead of the season as Minnesota went on to defeat the Angels, 6-5, for their first win in 2012. In Thursday’s rubber match between the two Clubs, the University of North Alabama product went 3-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored to lead the Twins to a 10-9 victory over the Angels. His seventh-inning homer marked the sixth time in Willingham’s nine-year career that the right-handed slugger has homered in three straight games. In addition, his three-hit effort was part of a 20-hit Twins attack, the most for the club since collecting 20 hits on July 26, 2010 in Kansas City. Heading into play today, the 17th round pick in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft (by Florida) has hit safely in all nine of the Twins’ games this season, the longest such streak to start a season for Minnesota since Jacque Jones hit safely in the first 11 games of the 2002 season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Twins player to compile a hitting streak of this length after debuting with the club was Orlando Cabrera, who hit safely in his first 11 contests with Minnesota from August 1-13, 2009.
Other noteworthy performances last week included Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (.458, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI); Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton (.367, 3 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI) and infielder Michael Young (.414, 2 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI); New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (.429, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI); and Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kyle Drabek (2-0, 1.42 ERA, 10 K).
The winner of the American League Player of the Week, Josh Willingham, will be awarded a watch courtesy of Game Time, the leader in licensed sports watches, available at MLB.com.