Johnson wins NL Player of the Week

Johnson wins NL Player of the Week

The Braves offense was unstoppable last week, scoring an NL-best 44 runs in seven games and batting a whopping .316 in those contests. So it only makes sense that the National League Player of the Week award would be given to one of Atlanta's hot hitters.

Enter Kelly Johnson, the Braves' rookie outfielder who batted .417 with three home runs and a league-leading 11 RBIs in 24 at-bats during games played June 13-19.

The three home runs were Johnson's first three in the Majors and two of them came in the same game Friday in Cincinnati, one of them a grand slam. Johnson also tallied half of his 12 career RBIs in that game, making him just the fourth Atlanta rookie to accumulate six RBIs in one game.

"Kelly can hit and he hits lefties as well as he hits righties," Braves manager Bobby Cox told after Friday's game. "He's so fundamentally sound it's unreal. I love the way he goes about his hitting techniques."

Johnson began the week in his home state of Texas against the Rangers. The 6-foot-1 right-handed thrower, left-handed batter resides in Austin, Texas, during the offseason.

The rookie made his Major League debut May 29, but it wasn't until five games later that he recorded his first big league hit, snapping an 0-for-15 streak. He then played in six more games without a hit before coming to Texas.

It seems the familiar territory was exactly what Johnson needed to get his stroke going because he hasn't stopped hitting since returning home and enters the week with a six-game hitting streak. The stellar week raised Johnson's batting average .177 points from .033 to .204.

"We know Kelly can hit and he was getting tough luck immediately when he got called up," said Cox early last week. "He's really starting to stroke it nice, really nice."

Johnson becomes the first National League rookie to win the award since Giants pitcher Noah Lowry received it last August.

Three other Braves players were in contention for the weekly award. Wilson Betemit, Julio Franco and Andruw Jones all received consideration. Each batter hit better than .350 last week with two or more home runs and at least four RBIs. The Cubs had three players considered for the award while the Cardinals had two players and a pitcher in contention.

The award will be presented to Johnson by Bank of America, the official bank of Major League Baseball.

CJ Bowles is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.