New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Wins Offensive Rookie of the Year Award

On the list of things that the New York Giants fans can celebrate after last season, the rise of Saquon Barkley is near the top. The Giants spent the second overall pick on Barkley and while there were some doubts early on about whether or not they should have drafted a quarterback, those were quickly moved to the back-burner when Barkley provided immediate value for the team and lifted them as one of their best offensive players.

Barkley has received a lot of attention from around the league because of his status as one of the best running backs in the league despite his rookie status, and now, the Pro Football Writers of America have recognized that status by awarding Barkley the title of Offensive Rookie of the Year. When it was all said and done, there weren’t many other players that would have made sense as the award recipient. Barkley was just that good this year.

What did the year look like by the numbers? Barkley finished with 1,307 yards on 261 rushing attempts while playing behind the subpar Giants offensive line. Additionally, all but two of the rushing touchdowns scored by the Giants last season were scored by Barkley, who also dominated attempts while playing in front of Wayne Gallman.

Barkley was snubbed from the All-Pro teams earlier this month, so winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award is a nice consolation. It’s no MVP award, of course, but there will be time for that in the future. After all, it’s easy to forget at this point, after everything that’s happened this season, that Barkley is still a rookie that was still playing in college around the same time last year.

One can only hope that soon, the New York Giants get the right players to help out Barkley and avoid wasting more good years from him.

New York Giants: Rookie Defensive Lineman Made An Immediate Impact

New York Giants, B.J. Hill

The New York Giants had one of the worst defenses in the league in 2017. That did not change in 2018, as the Giants’ defense in 2018 ranked 23rd in yards allowed per game and 24 in points allowed per game.

Despite the overall poor play by the defense, the Giants did have a couple standout players on the team. Third round rookie B.J. Hill was an impact player in 2018 and has shown promise as a building block for the future.

B.J. Hill Rookie Season Highlights And Statistics

In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants selected B.J. Hill out of North Carolina State in the third round. The Giants used the pick they received from the Buccaneers in a trade for Jason Pierre-Paul. Giants fans should be thankful that Gettleman was able to receive a third round pick for JPP. Pierre-Paul is an aging veteran whose production had been falling each season. B.J. Hill is a promising young rookie with high potential.

Hill racked up the tackles this season. From his interior defensive line position, Hill was able to produce 48 combined tackles on the season. He also added 6 tackles for loss.

B.J. Hill plays as an interior defensive lineman, but he is not merely a run stuffer. Hill proved that he is an excellent interior penetrator. B.J. Hill set a New York Giants franchise record in 2018. His 5.5 sacks were the most ever by a rookie in Giants history since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. The 5.5 sacks were also the fourth most by a rookie this season. This statistic proves B.J. Hill will be a force on the Giants’ defense for years to come.

50+ tackles and 5+ sacks puts B.J. Hill in elite company. Other notable rookie defensive linemen in NFL history with 50+ tackles and 5+ sacks include: J.J. Watt, Ndamukong Suh, Kevin Williams, Justin Smith, Jevon Kearse, Simeon Rice, Charles Haley, and Reggie White.

B.J. Hill’s most impressive game came in week 13 against the Chicago Bears. This was Hill’s coming out party. Fans were not completely aware of Hill until this game, as he broke out with a 3 sack performance in the Giants’ overtime victory. He also added multiple pressures and two tackles for loss. Hill was especially disruptive against Chicago and helped the Giants come away with a big win.

The New York Giants were lucky to find B.J. Hill in the third round of the 2018 Draft. The Giants will need to build around Hill and continue to add pieces around him to improve the defense in 2019.

Introducing A New York Knicks Fan Mailbag – Participate!

Here at Empire Sports Media we are always trying to interact more with our loyal supporters and fans.  One of our newest writers, Eli Samuels, @EliMSamuels, came up with this idea to do just that.

We will be introducing a mailbag series where you, our supporters and fans, comment or tweet us questions that you would like us to write an article about.

For example, do you want to hear us talk about the current roster?  Knicks pastimes, like the Ewing missed layup, or future draft picks and how the lineup may look.  Any of your most or least favorite Knicks moments, let us know and we will give you our two cents.

Those who submit a question will be featured on the site.  The question/tweet will be in the article along with our discussion on the question presented to us.  The best way for us to see your questions would be to comment below or tweet us at @EmpireSportsNYK.

We look forward to all your questions!

 

New York Yankees: Sonny Gray Talks Increase As CC Sabathia Gains Clearance

The New York Yankees might be on the brink of a trade that would see the departure of starting pitcher Sonny Gray who was demoted to relief duties in 2018 due to inconsistent outings.

Jon Heyman of FanCred has indicated that talks have spiked over the once sought-after pitcher involving several clubs – Reds, Padres Brewers, A’s, Mariners, and Braves. The deal will likely get done one way or another as the Yankees are trying to unload his contract.

Gray struggled in Yankee stadium, giving up 14 homers in 30 games last season. He also allowed 73 runs. To compare to his best season to date (2015), Gray allowed 71 runs over 208 innings pitched while in 2018 he pitched just 130 innings. The differential is mind-blowing.

The former A’s righty clearly lost his confidence early on in the Bronx, and being demoted further demoralized him to the point of losing innings as a relief pitcher.

Why did talks quiet in December?

When CC Sabathia underwent heart surgery the Yankees seemed to stall negotiations for Gray until they knew that their veteran starter would return to full health. It made sense for them to be cautious as there were rumors that Sabathia wouldn’t be ready to return for spring training.

However, news that Sabathia would be 100% come spring allowed the Yankees to continue shopping their valuable pitcher.

What’s so attractive about Gray?

In another setting he can still be a very effective option, but the short right-deck and crowd-heckling atmosphere at Yankee Stadium surely didn’t help Gray’s cause.

One of the more underrated aspects of Gray is that he’s consistently healthy. When called upon he shows up to work, albeit not very effectively for the Yankees, for another team his services could be more of use. It’s rumored that the Yankees will be looking for elite-level prospects in return for a potential deal.

 

 

 

 

Can The New York Yankees Compete With The Boston Red Sox In 2019?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

In 2018, the New York Yankees were obliterated by a World Series winning Boston Red Sox team in the ALDS. The loss exposed multiple weaknesses in regard to the Yankees’ roster – starting pitching, ability to get on base, base-running, etc.

The list of deficiencies piled up after the loss, and general manager Brian Cashman has addressed some of the weaknesses to the best of abilities, or rather with the least monetary investment. Skipping out on Manny Machado and zigzagging around big free-agent pitcher Patrick Corbin were two moves that raised a few eye-brows.

Cashman did sign five Gold-Gloves to the infield in DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki. The two veterans will provide skill on the defensive side of the infield and solid hitting on the offensive. A cheaper alternative to signing Machado or Bryce Harper, despite the want from both to play in Pinstripes.

How have the Red Sox fared?

Boston is on the brink of losing star closer Crag Kimbrel which would be a significant loss to their bull-pen. They re-signed Nathan Eovaldi and retained most of their starting team. The Yankees didn’t lose any significant players. They added starting pitcher James Paxton to the rotation to offer more support down the stretch.

At this point, it seems as if the Yanks have taken a jump in quality while the Red Sox have lost a bit. Additionally, head coach Aaron Boone will have one important year of experience under his belt to help him improve upon his mistakes last season.

My biggest concern:

My most pressing concern is the depth and consistency on the offensive side of the ball. The first-base position isn’t secure as Greg Bird and Luke Voit will split time – neither can be trusted to consistently hit at an average/high level, the left field position isn’t offensively stout with Brett Gardner playing.

Current active outfielders:

-Gardner

-Giancarlo Stanton

-Aaron Hicks

-Jacoby Ellsbury

-Clint Frazier

-Aaron Judge

Behind the core of Stanton, Judge and Hicks, the quality takes a massive drop-off. Ellsbury hasn’t been effective since 2014 realistically, Gardner has seen age take its toll, and Frazier has potential but hasn’t proved he can be a consistent option. Health will be a very important factor in the success of the team this upcoming season.

The success of New York against Boston will really come down to if the Yankees can figure out how to stop an extremely efficient Red Sox lineup. It will ultimately come down to the little details against each and every batter – the game is getting more mathematical, but the Yankees have added enough pieces to help their cause against the best team in baseball.

 

New York Yankees First Baseman And The Curse Of The Giambino

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

I remember when first base was manned by Donnie Baseball, the New York Yankees followed him up with Tino Martinez and Jason Giambi. After Giambi started breaking down we were treated to Tony Clark, Andy Phillips, Wilson Betemit, John Olerud and John Olerud’s batting helmet along with one misguided reunion with a 37-year-old Martinez.

In 2009, Mark Teixeira signed and had 1 good year, two mediocre years and one “meh” year, unfortunately for the Yankees he played a total of nine. Since then we’ve had the Greg Bird injury experience, Garret Jones, Rob Refsnyder, Tyler Austin and Luke Voit.

An offseason of doubt and uncertainty:

Yet, this offseason there has been no mention of the black hole at first base. Some may be comfortable with the Luke Voit and Greg Bird tandem, but I’m skeptical about Bird ever being healthy and good at the same time, and I don’t think Voit’s Roy Hobbs impression can be sustained.

Will Andujar continue his success at the plate?

Miguel Andujar’s defense has been the cause of a lot of hand wringing this off-season, and has caused a lot of people to overlook the fact he hit .297 with 27 home runs and 92 RBIs at 23-years-old. Another thing that’s overlooked is his 47 doubles, and what that number predicts.

Scouts used to believe that as a player grew into his body and learned to hit at the major league level doubles were a sign of developing power. Sabremetrics has validated this fact, and typically young players will see a decrease in doubles (typically balls hit into outfield gaps) as they learn to pull and drive more pitches out of the ball park.

There is no reason not to expect to see Andujar follow this same path and have his doubles drop down into the low 30’s, and to see his home run totals shoot up into that same area.

If you put two and two together there is an obvious conclusion here:

I think Andujar ends up a .270-.280 hitter with an OBP around .330 who averages out at 30 HRs and right around 100 runs batted in each season. That’s a valuable player, particularly when he’s 5-years from being anywhere near free agency and you have Aaron Judge, Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez all to come.

Trading him for equal value seems unlikely when you take in the full picture, so what do you do with him? Maybe his defense improves and you leave him at third, but improvement would take him from terrible to just bad and I don’t think below adequate is the Yankees’ goal for him.

A move across the diamond accomplishes several things:

First it give Andujar a home, ends the trade speculation and allows him to settle in and just hit. Second it opens up the Yankee infield to multiple options with LeMahieu, Torres, Gregorius, Tulowitzki and whoever else they bring in.

Finally it lets Yankee fans spend next offseason reliving the Machado let down with Nolan Arenado as the free agent who totally wants to be in NYC until he doesent.

Everyone’s a winner in this scenario so let’s do it Yankees, lets break the cycle of first base futility with a young home-grown star. Just to be safe though, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to perform an exorcism at first base just in case.

New York Giants: Drafting Kyler Murray With 6th Pick Would Be A Mistake

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Kyler Murray’s decision to enter the NFL Draft. The Oklahoma quarterback was very impressive during the college season and helped his team to a playoff appearance while winning the Heisman Trophy, and because of those performances, some have theorized that Murray could be the player that the New York Giants should take with the sixth overall pick.

There’s one problem with that. Taking Murray that high would be overvaluing him, and missing out on a chance to add more value to another part of the team. Murray’s college performances have given him some hype after declaring for the draft, but NFL scouts are generally looking for a certain kind of player when they evaluate quarterbacks and Murray doesn’t necessarily fit that mold.

Realistically, it looks more like he’ll be a late first round pick, or will fall into the second round. Just being drafted in the first round isn’t a guarantee for him. Outside of top ranked quarterback Dwayne Haskins, others such as Drew Lock and Ryan Finley will most likely be drafted before Murray is, because they don’t have the same injury concerns that the 5’11” Murray has to deal with.

Coming from a college with an exotic offense like Oklahoma doesn’t increase a prospect’s value in the eyes of scouts, either. There’s typically plenty of quarterbacks each year that have amazing numbers in air raid or spread systems that are passed over for more fundamentally solid players with less flashy statlines, after all.

If the Giants want to draft Kyler Murray, they shouldn’t do it with the sixth overall pick. They’ll have their chance later, when they pick in the second round. A trade into the later part of the first round is even a possibility, and it would be a mistake to spend a top ten pick on a player that could be obtained later.

There’s been plenty of talk about Murray going in the top ten, and that will only increase as the draft nears. But while small quarterbacks can win in the NFL, few GMs want to be the ones to take a risk on drafting one. The Giants front office is likely no exception to that.