As if earning a nomination to the All-Star team wasn't enough, Joe Nathan picked up American League Player of the Week honors as well.
Last week, Nathan pitched five innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just one hit. He's earned four saves in a row for the Twins and saved six of their last seven games.
This is all good enough to help him be named Bank of America Presents the American League Player of the Week for the period ending July 3. "It's nice to get the recognition," Nathan said. "It's an honor. It's really a credit to our team. It shows how good we're playing." But stellar pitching is nothing new for Nathan. This season Nathan has 44 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings pitched and has converted his last 11 straight save opportunities. Simply put, Torii Hunter says it best: "He's lights-out," Hunter said after Nathan polished off the Devil Rays for a sweep. This is the second career AL Player of the Week Award for Nathan. And to put that in perspective, the last relief pitcher other than Nathan to win weekly honors was Seattle's Kazuhiro Sasaki on April 29, 2001. Others considered for the award were Cleveland's Travis Hafner (.444, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs); Los Angeles' Vladimir Guerrero (.480, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs); and Toronto's Russ Adams (.316, 1 HR, 10 RBIs). Nathan's teammate Joe Mays (2-0, 1.80 ERA, 15.0 IP) and Oakland pitcher Barry Zito (2-0, 1.80 ERA, 15.0 IP) also received consideration.
Kyle Jepson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.