Baker named NL Player of Week
Slugging utilityman honored for four-homer stretch
Colorado Rockies utility man Jeff Baker got an opportunity for a lot more playing time when injuries sidelined Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes.
Baker has taken advantage, and in a big way.
He was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday after a week in which he celebrated his 27th birthday, hit .435 and homered in four straight games. He was 10-for-23, including the four taters and two doubles, with a .480 on-base percentage and a 1.043 slugging percentage.
"There's been stretches where you see the ball great, but you just don't get hits," Baker said on Saturday. "I'm seeing the ball and feel comfortable."
Baker hit safely in all six games the Rockies played last week, including four multi-hit games and two multi-RBI games.
And of course, the four home runs in consecutive outings were quite a power surge for him. Baker only had one home run on the season before the string began, and only 10 career home runs before 2008.
Baker was a career utility player before the injuries to Tulowitzki and Barmes thrust more playing time upon him.
Barmes is expected to return to the Rockies as early as Monday, but Baker's bat may just keep him in the lineup. It's a good problem for the Rockies to have, as Barmes was hitting .343 with 20 RBIs in 39 games before his injury.
"Everybody wants to be out there, no matter who it is," Baker said. "But it's not going to change anything I do. Every day, I'll check the lineup card and see if I'm in there, and if I am, I'll go out and give it my best effort. If I'm not, I'll be prepared to get a big hit [as a pinch-hitter] that night."
In 162 career games over the last four seasons with the Rockies, Baker has hit .268 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs. He is a very versatile player, splitting time at first base, second base, third base and right field.
Other nominees this past week for NL Player of the Week included Rockies teammates Brad Hawpe and Matt Holliday.
Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.