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Atkins named NL Player of the Week

Atkins named NL Player of the Week

Garrett Atkins ended his 2006 season the same way he started it -- with a National League Player of the Week Award.

Colorado's third baseman captured the award for Sept. 25 to Oct. 1 for his strong performance over the Rockies' last six games. He batted .522 (12-for-23) with two home runs, six RBIs and a Major League-leading eight runs scored over that span.

The hot streak came on the heels of Atkins' coldest stretch of the season. He was riding an 0-for-14 slump into the Rockies' game with the Dodgers on Sept. 26 -- the first time all year that Atkins had gone hitless over three games.

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He broke out of his slump with two hits against Los Angeles, then delivered four more multihit games in the week. He also managed to contribute in the one game of the week in which he didn't get a hit. On Sept. 30 he collected a career-high four walks in Colorado's 11-9 win over the Cubs.

Between all the hits and walks, Atkins was a fixture on the basepaths. He posted an impressive .645 on-base percentage for the week.

Atkins won the very first 2006 Player of the Week honor for the week of April 2-9. Bookending his season with these awards is a symbol of how Atkins delivered for Colorado all season long and turned into one of the National League's most promising young stars.

He finished the year with 29 homers and a team-leading 120 RBIs and 119 runs scored. His .329 average was fourth in the NL, and he also finished among the league leaders in doubles (48) and hits (195).

The third baseman's great numbers couldn't prevent the Rockies from their second straight last-place finish in the NL West. His award-worthy week was emblematic of the entire season. Though Atkins was on fire at the plate, Colorado dropped four of its last six games.

On a young Colorado team that is still struggling for success, Atkins has emerged as a leader both on the field and in the clubhouse after just his second full season in the Majors.

"I've got a couple of full years, which generally is young, but on this team is not that young, especially among position players," Atkins said. "So I've definitely got to take on more responsibility and try to lead by example."

Atkins beat out a large field of nominees for the final Player of the Week honor, including teammate Brad Hawpe, who hit .444 with two homers and eight RBIs.

Also under consideration were Marlon Anderson, J.D. Drew, Jeff Kent, James Loney and Greg Maddux of the Dodgers; San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez; Washington's Brian Schneider and Ryan Zimmerman; Florida's Miguel Cabrera, Wes Helms and Hanley Ramirez; Philadelphia's Pat Burrell and Shane Victorino; Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur and John Smoltz; Pittsburgh's Marty McLeary and Freddy Sanchez; Milwaukee's Bill Hall; Houston's Roy Oswalt; Chicago's Juan Pierre; Cincinnati's Chris Denorfia and Aaron Harang; and Albert Pujols of the Cardinals.

Mark Polishuk is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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