New York Giants: Rosas Makes AP All-Pro Second Team, Barkley Snubbed

Based on the results of the season, it’s not surprising that the New York Giants aren’t represented on the AP’s First Team All-Pro. The team finished with only five wins and was nearly out of the playoff race entirely by the time that midseason rolled around, but despite that outcome, they did manage to get one player on the AP’s Second Team All-Pro. That player might not be the one that you expect.

Aldrick Rosas, the Giants’ kicker who joined the team last year after being waived by the Titans in the 2016 offseason, managed to make it to the Second Team All-Pro after only two seasons in the league. Rosas made all but one of his field goal attempts, scoring 32 out of 33 times and making 31 of his 32 extra point attempts. Rosas contributed 127 total points to the team, a big step up from the 74 points of last year.

At only 24 years old, Rosas will be a long term player at an underrated position. If the Giants had been in more close finishes this season, his skill would have likely been noticed even more.

However, there was another notable Giant this season that likely should have been recognized, who didn’t make it onto either the First Team or the Second Team like Rosas. Saquon Barkley finished second in rushing yards for the entire league in his rookie season, but was snubbed in favor of First Team running back Todd Gurley and Second Team back Ezekiel Elliot. Gurley, notably, finished with less yards than Barkley but had the advantage of a better offensive line and a team that was in the spotlight all season, unlike the 5-11 Giants.

It’s good to see Rosas acknowledged by the wider sports media world, but it does seem like Barkley was underrated with some voters and didn’t get the proper credit after pulling off a historic season while playing in a bad situation. Still, Giants fans will know just how impactful Barkley was this season, and with this only being Barkley’s rookie year, there will be plenty of chances for him to gain more accomplishments later.

Looking Into The New York Yankees’ Most Undervalued Player

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees boast some of the most prolific names in Major League Baseball with outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Seldom you hear the name Aaron Hicks in the conversation when referring to some of baseball’s best, and by no means should he be included in that topic, but his value is far more than some might think.

How valuable is Aaron Hicks to the New York Yankees?

The natural switch hitter is equally consistent on both sides of the ball, earning a .248 batting average and just two fielding errors in his most recent campaign. His defensive abilities are the more impressive skill for Hicks, yet his 27 home runs in 2018 surely jump off the page. All together, the starting outfield group produced 82 homers.

His value as a consistent bat in the lineup and a sure-fire defender is cherished by the Yankees, who have struggled to lock in healthy and productive free agents in the outfield – see Jacoby Ellsbury.

Hicks has had two solid seasons in New York, and he’s gearing up for a third in 2019. He will certainly be an impactful player after an impressive bout of strength at the plate last season. He earned a career best 581 plate appearances in 2018, contributing 90 runs to the Yankees’ offense.

One of the more impressive stats in regard to Hicks is his walk-rate – 15.5% last season. The first half of the season was far different from the second, as he displayed a boost in power early on but began to focus more on his on-base-percentage. His ability to get on base and draw walks is exactly what the Yankees want/need, simply because he offers a potential run for sluggers like Judge and Stanton.

The Yankees play a very home run based offensive scheme, which allows players like Aaron to be patient at the plate and find a way to get on base.

 

 

 

New York Giants: Top Three Positions Of Need in the 2019 Offseason

The New York Giants have won eight of their last twenty-six games. They’re not a good team and have a lot of holes to fill out on the roster. While specific skill positions are filled with quality players – running back and wide receiver – others are in need of support.

Here are three priorities for the New York Giants in 2019:

Right Tackle:

The Giants struck gold last offseason in the NFL draft with their second round selection. Left guard Will Hernandez has already shown he is a great player that will be a building block on the Giants’ offensive line for years to come. The Giants also signed left tackle Nate Solder to a record-breaking contract. These players improved the Giants’ offensive line tremendously. However, the Giants still need help on the right side of the line.

Right guard Jamon Brown was a solid pickup half way through the 2018 season. But his teammate to the right of him struggled all year. Right tackle Chad Wheeler has shown nothing that would indicate he is the Giants’ right tackle of the future. Chad Wheeler had a 47.1 Pro Football Focus grade in 2018, making him the 82nd ranked tackle. In order for the Giants offense to be better next season, they need to make an upgrade at right tackle.

Cornerback:

The New York Giants’ secondary was a major disappointment in 2018.  Janoris Jenkins was not the shutdown cornerback that he used to be, allowing 12.6 yards per reception, 96.6 passer rating, and 6 touchdowns in coverage this season. Second corner B.W. Webb was not much better. He was average, according to Pro Football Focus, earning a grade of 62.6.

Janoris Jenkins has had trade rumors surrounding him for about two years now, and it would not be surprising if general manager Dave Gettleman moved him this offseason. Gettleman likes to give younger players opportunities.

Undrafted rookie Grant Haley showed flashes this season. He could potentially be the Giants’ top corner in 2019 if he continues to develop. He earned an above average PFF grade of 69.3. Another young corner who will be part of the Giant’ future is supplemental draft pick Sam Beal. Beal tore his shoulder this season and did not play a game, but expect to see him play significant snaps next season.

Quarterback:

The Giants have quarterback Eli Manning on the roster, but it is uncertain how much longer he will remain in New York. Manning has not committed to playing next season, and Gettleman has not committed to bringing him back.

Eli Manning is in his fifteenth season. Fans and reporters alike agree that his performance has declined in recent years. Eli was only able to throw for 21 touchdowns this season, despite having fantastic playmakers surrounding him. Pro Football Focus gave Eli a grade of 64.3 and ranked him as the 31st quarterback in the NFL in 2018. Despite this, Eli did throw for 4,299 yards and a 66% completion percentage.

Eli is still a good quarterback, but it is time for the Giants to start looking towards the future. With the quarterback having turned 38 earlier this week, it is evident his time in the NFL is almost up. The Giants need a plan at the position for when Manning is no longer there, and this offseason is a good time to put that plan into place.

 

New York Yankees Slugger Aaron Judge Primed For Monster Season

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Missing more than two months of baseball certainly takes a toll on any given player’s statistics, but if you’re New York Yankees star Aaron Judge, it looks like this –.278 batting average, 27 home runs and 67 RBIs. For any other player, those stats are impressive and would be deemed “productive.”

Now, being that Judge missed nearly nine-weeks of baseball, we can predict he would have had another All-Star caliber season with the potential for more. His primary weakness remained his strikeout rate, as he went down swinging 152 times in 2018 and 208 in ’17. These numbers surely raise a red-flag when it comes to his efficiency at the plate and contact-percentages. Nonetheless, he’s been a phenom at the plate and is one of the Yankees’ top-hitters.

But, what could he be capable of in 2019, if he can remain healthy for the entire season?

Before we delve into what ‘could’ be, let’s see what ‘was’.

Despite Judge’s strikeout issues – every 3.2 at-bats in 2018, his contribution towards average runs per-game was astounding. When the slugger was in the lineup, the Yankees went 73-39 and averaged 5.42 runs-per-game. Without him, they went 27-22 and only averaged 4.86 per-game. That’s a little above half a run per-game, which would indicate that he was responsable for a tenth of all the runs the Yankees scored last-season (while active).

These numbers represent a notable difference in the lineup, and being healthy should improve those numbers considerably.

While predicting his 2019 stats are impossible, we can assume that his home runs total could fall anywhere between 52-42, while his RBIs 100-115. Judge was the runner-up for MVP in 2017, which is a good place to start from when looking at his potential numbers. If we use those as peak numbers and go from there we can formulate an educated guess.

The New York Yankees are building a power batting order:

If the Yanks manage to secure the signature of superstar free agent Manny Machado they would have a power-centralized lineup. Boasting Giancarlo Stanton, Judge, ‘Machado, and Gary Sanchez would indicate an obvious trend. The Bombers relied on the long-ball to win a lot of games last year, which is where they got into trouble against the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.

Stopping the Yanks from belting shots over the fence is the key to success, as they’re not above-average base-runners. The problem is — how do you stop some of the best hitters in the game from hitting the ball?

 

 

The New York Knicks Are Bad, But Being Worse Couldn’t Hurt

The New York Knicks are in a difficult position right now as they approach the midpoint of this season. While they jockey for position in the race for the worst record in the NBA, the teams’ young players are improving a little too quickly.

Reclamation projects Noah Vonleh and Emmanuel Mudiay have staked claims on starting roles and are becoming contributors. Rookies Kevin Knox and Alonzo Trier are improving, and soon Mitchell Robinson will return to the rotation as well. It may be time to for the front office to take action to ensure the team is in pole position for the top pick in this years draft.

Where do the New York Knicks need to be?

The Knicks need to be all in on Zion Williamson, currently averaging just under 20ppg and 10rpg for the Duke Blue Devils. It’s not just about the stats, but the energy and excitement he brings to the table. It’s too easy to picture MSG losing its mind after a thunderous dunk by Williamson, and feeling the building shake with excitement for the first time since the late 90s thug ball title contending teams of Pat Riley.

A front court of Porzingis, Knox and Williamson would be embraced by the fanbase for years to come and would supply scoring, energy and athleticism that the team has been lacking for decades. Porzingis as center is the perfect shooter/shot blocker in the wide open era of offenses, Knox has the length, height and talent to be a 3 and D wing, and Zion would be there as the roll man and finisher inside. Along with a back-court of the ever improving Mudiay and the lock down defense of Frank Ntikilina the makings of a contender are starting to coalesce for the Knicks.

Making this vision a reality:

So how do they ensure the vision above becomes a reality? The first step is finishing with the leagues worst record to have the best chance at that top selection in the draft. Step one is buying out Enes Kanter ASAP, and he should be open to this option as well.

Kanter has been a great teammate,  and has had some great games but is clearly frustrated to be coming off the bench for a team going nowhere. Trading him is not an option due to his $18 million dollar cap hit, and the need to take that much back in salary in any deal. If the Knicks want to keep their Durant dreams alive, they’ll need Kanter’s expiring contract off their books. Halfway through the season, all he’s owed is about 9 million so they should be able to work out a deal that’s agreeable to both sides.

The next step is tougher, and that’s finding a taker for Tim Hardaway Jr. and his contract. You may be surprised to hear that in the era of efficiency teams are not lining up for a shot at volume scorer who does not shoot well (under 40% fg, and 35% 3pfg), hasn’t played defense since he was at Michigan, and averaged less than 4 rebounds or assists per game.

Essentially he’s a poor man’s version of Carmelo Anthony in his prime. If Courtney Lee can show some ability to shoot and play defense again maybe there’s a playoff team that could use a bench scorer , and a defensive wing who could shoot (Dallas?) and a package could be worked out shipping them off together.

By cutting ties with Kanter and Hardaway the Knicks should be able to out-tank Atlanta and Cleveland for the bottom of the NBA barrel and move closer to a brighter future. What’s one more step back for a team that’s been in reverse for a decade if the ultimate step forward can change the franchise for the next 15 years?