Konerko, Freese named Players of Week
White Sox slugger, Cards rookie power up to earn honors
One is an established veteran playing for a team still struggling to find answers, the other is a rookie whose club is dominating.
Despite their differing team fortunes, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Cardinals third baseman David Freese both posted gaudy numbers over the last week of April, and on Monday, each were named Player of the Week by Bank of America for their respective leagues.
In six games last week, Konerko hit .316 (6-for-19) with an American League-best four homers and 10 RBIs to capture his third weekly honor and first since June 2006. Freese, meanwhile, recorded a Major League-best 11 RBIs while batting .462 (12-for-26) and belting three home runs. This was his first Player of the Week Award.
Through the first month of the season, Konerko leads the Majors with 12 homers and a .790 slugging percentage, while his 24 RBIs rank second in the AL. He's also the first player in White Sox history to be the fastest in the Majors to reach double-digit homers in a season.
Konerko, a three-time All-Star, posted a .462 on-base percentage last week and came up big on Thursday, when he launched two late homers -- his 25th career multihomer game -- and drove in four runs as the White Sox rallied to a 7-5 win over the Rangers. Then, in the series opener against the Yankees on Friday, Konerko hit a first-inning homer to give him 11 in April and shatter Jim Thome's previous club mark of 10, set in 2006.
The White Sox -- 10-15 and six games out of first place in the AL Central -- are coming off a 12-3 loss to the Yankees that capped a 2-4 road trip. But if Chicago is looking for a positive sign as it begins a six-game homestand, all the South Siders need to do is look at their 34-year-old first baseman, who became the first White Sox player since 1935 (Zeke Bonura) to lead or share the Major League lead in home runs entering May.
"I'm certainly not trying to hit home runs," Konerko said recently. "I have a good plan when I walk up there. Just having an idea what I want to do and sticking to it. And if it doesn't work out, not panicking and just stay with my stuff and just trusting it."
While the Cardinals have kept rolling, Freese has stayed hot.
The 27-year-old, who had to earn the starting third-base spot in Spring Training, was second in the NL in hits and total bases (24) last week. On Wednesday, Freese celebrated his birthday with a 2-for-3, two-RBI performance in a 6-0 win over the Braves.
The following day, he made some franchise history. In a 10-4 win over Atlanta, Freese notched six RBIs, the most by a Cardinals rookie since Major League Baseball established rookie status in 1957.
The Cardinals head into a seven-game road trip 17-8 and 4 1/2 games up on the Cubs in the National League Central. Freese is a big reason why, sporting a .355 batting average that's tied for second in the league. He leads NL rookies in RBIs, with 16.
"He carried our ballclub this week, coming up huge with men in scoring position, with two outs, driving in guys and hitting the ball all over the place," Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols said recently about Freese, who's also riding a six-game hitting streak. "I'm really happy for him. Working out with him this offseason, seeing the attitude that he had in Spring Training [when he knew] that could have been his last opportunity, he took advantage and made the club. He didn't take anything for granted. He's still doing his damage here. He's taking quality at-bats. I think that's the big key."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.