Toronto Blue Jays: Justin Smoak picks up another award

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 1: Justin Smoak
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 1: Justin Smoak /

Justin Smoak gets an early start on proving last year wasn’t a one-off for the Toronto Blue Jays, by being named the first AL Player of the Week for 2018.

A few months back, we asked what to expect from Justin Smoak in 2018? Was last year a one-off, or the beginning of something special with the Toronto Blue Jays?

When Smoak started with just one hit and four strikeouts in seven at bats through two games against the Yankees, there was at least some concern. Was he set to continue from a disappointing end in 2017, when he had just two homers and six RBI during the final month of the season?

Or was the 2017 All-Star still getting back into regular season shape? After all, he recently admitted he had dealt with previously undisclosed patella tendinitis in one of his knees last year.

While it’s still extremely early, the signs look good after Smoak’s performance in the latter two games of the opening series against the Yankees. He went six-for-eight, with two home runs and six RBI, to help the Blue Jays even their record at 2-2.

As a result, the 31-year-old was named the inaugural AL Player of the Week for 2018. The news was confirmed by Oliver Macklin of

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The highlight of Smoak’s weekend was undoubtedly the grand slam he hit on Sunday, to give the Jays the lead in the eighth inning. It was the second grand slam of his Major League career.

The Goose Creek, South Carolina native became just the third player in Jays history to have at least six RBI in a game against the Yankees. In addition, his eight overall RBI are the most in the Majors entering Monday’s slate of games.

Smoak set career highs across the board last season. Of particular note, he led the Blue Jays in home runs, RBIs, batting average, hits and OBP.

There is no way of telling how this season will play out for the 2008 11th overall draft pick. He needs a big year to ensure his club option is picked up in 2019.

However, at least it looks promising so far for Smoak. As per Macklin, manager John Gibbons said on Sunday:

"“He’s off to a great start. A big year last year … and he has turned into a pretty good hitter. You can’t do any better than he did today. Game on the line, down a run, two outs, against one of the top relievers in baseball. He’s just really coming into his own, I think. A late bloomer.”"

Next: Be patient with Jays' offence

What’s your early take on this season for the Toronto Blue Jays and Smoak in particular? What kind of success are you projecting for the team and the player? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.