The Tampa Bay Rays had a historic week in clinching the first division title in franchise history and infielder Ben Zobrist helped them finish with a flourish. The Texas Rangers aren't going to the playoffs, but they did set a Major League record for most doubles in a season, and Hank Blalock delivered the historic record-breaking hit. Both players had an outstanding week, and they have been named the Bank of America Presents the American League Co-Players of the Week for the period ending Sunday, the final week of the 2008 regular season.
Zobrist finished off his great week by hitting a game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning in an 8-7 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park. During the four-game series against the Tigers, Zobrist went 7-for-15 with four home runs, five runs, and seven RBIs. "I like playing here, I guess; I see the ball good," Zobrist said. "You know it's a great-looking stadium, I love playing in it. It's just nice to come out with a win. I wouldn't have felt good with four losses to finish the year. But I think now that we came out of here with a win, it's going to feel good going into Thursday." For the week, Zobrist hit .455 (10-22), with a double, a triple, four home runs and seven RBIs. The 28-year-old posted four multihit games en route to a 1.136 slugging percentage along with a .500 on-base percentage. Zobrist was 3-for-7 with three runs scored during a doubleheader at Baltimore on Tuesday. He went 2-for-4 with two home runs, two runs scored and four RBIs at Detroit on Thursday. This marks the first career weekly award for Zobrist and Blalock. Blalock hit .400 (10-22) with three doubles, four home runs and nine RBIs last week, and hit a home run in five straight games from Sept. 21 through Friday. During a three-game series against Oakland, Blalock went 7-for-12 with three home runs and seven RBIs. "My job is to be a run producer, and I'm just trying to go up there with a good approach and have good at-bats," Blalock said at the height of his homer streak. On Saturday night, he hit a double off the Angels' Ervin Santana in the third inning that gave the Rangers 374 doubles on the season, a Major League record. Other positions players considered were Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis (.412 average, 1.059 slugging, two doubles, three homers, eight RBIs); Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells (.400, .850 slugging, three homers, nine RBIs); and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim catcher Mike Napoli (.733, 1.333 slugging, three doubles, two homers, eight RBIs). Minnesota Twins right-hander Scott Baker (2-0, 0.64 ERA, 14 innings, 13 strikeouts), Kansas City Royals right-hander Gil Meche (2-0, 2.25 ERA, 12 innings, 11 strikeouts), and New York Yankees right-hander Mike Mussina (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 11 innings, nine strikeouts), who picked up his 20th win of the season for the first time in his career, were among the pitchers nominated. Tourneau, the world's largest watch store, will supply Zobrist and Blalock with luxury Swiss Tourneau timepieces, suitably engraved, in recognition of their achievements.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.