New York Giants: Saquon Barkley’s Take On Passing Over Sam Darnold

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The most controversial decision the New York Giants made last year wasn’t one during the season. Rather, that decision came during the offseason when the team passed on Sam Darnold to spend the second overall pick on Saquon Barkley. It looks like the results of that choice were worth it, with Barkley contending for the rushing title until the very end of the season and now winning the AP Rookie of the Year award along with Baker Mayfield.

That won’t stop the decision from being controversial, though, with the Giants only winning five games despite Barkley’s great performances. With Sam Darnold looking good while playing for the Giants’ crosstown rival, the decision to take the top player on the board rather than a quarterback has been criticized. Now, Barkley himself has responded to those criticisms, speaking to the Rapsheet and Friends podcast.

“I know everyone is saying a quarterback should have been taken before me. And you know, they’re not wrong. That’s their opinion. They can have their opinion. But some people believe I should have been taken at that pick. And they’re not wrong, either. They can have that opinion,” said Barkley.

Barkley also stated that at the end of the day, his goal is to have success and not to prove anyone wrong. “It was trying to prove more to myself that the Giants made the right pick.”

It was clear that success was on Barkley’s mind based on his performances last season. The Rookie of the Year award was well deserved, and before winning that award, Barkley finished second in total rushing yards and had the best performance in decades from a rookie running back. Time will tell whether or not the Giants made the right move, but based on the numbers, it’s hard to say at this point that they acted unreasonably by passing on a quarterback.

New York Yankees: Should We Expect A Drop Off From Miguel Andujar?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

Hitting .297 as a rookie is awful impressive, and for Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees third-baseman, it seems as if he’s just getting started as a big-leaguer.

Andujar performed extremely well offensively in 2018, recording 47 doubles and 27 homers. There’s no question that he could develop into one of the league’s more elite bats, but his defensive skills have raised a few red flags. He struggled through 15 errors last season, and that was a driving force behind the Manny Machado to the Yankees rumors.

Some reports have stated that the Yankees should consider making Andujar their primary designated hitter. Personally, I don’t think this a good move, simply because developing their youth star should be a priority. Andujar can’t be a DH forever, and allowing him to adapt to the speed and power of the MLB is essential to his growth.

The DH spot will likely be taken:

With Clint Frazier returning to full health, I would anticipate him earning the starting left field job after he regains his form. That will likely place slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the DH spot until his services are needed in the field.

The probability is that Andujar will retain his starting defensive role, but he will need to make major strides to keep the faith from management.

His hitting is destined to even out:

Andujar hitting as well as he did last season could be a mirage, as it was unexpected. Betting on him reaching those type of numbers again would be a stretch – I would put my chips in on him averaging out at around .270 in 2019. He recorded the most doubles in the history of the Yankees at third-base with 47 and that will probably fall to around 30. Focusing on hitting for contact should be Miguel’s priority moving forward.

New York Knicks: Drafting Zion Could Lure Durant And Kyrie To Big Apple

Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant

Big name players heading towards the twilight of their career often want to play on a winning team, no matter where they’re located. The New York Knicks are simply not a winning team, in fact, they haven’t been for quite some time.

The more enticing destinations would be the Los Angeles Lakers or Golden State Warriors, but not the Knicks…unless, they manage to hit the lottery on Zion Williamson (pun intended). Drafting a player of his caliber and dominance could be the difference in a successful organization or not. His ability to overpower defenders and shoot efficiently is unparalleled in college basketball. The NBA is a different story but it’s unlikely his skill-set isn’t able to translate.

Grabbing a player of his talent could be enough to convince some of the best players (Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving) in the league to come to New York, despite the current narrative and 10-win team.

The front-office is putting the pieces in place – trading Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke away to the Dallas Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wes Mathews, and two draft picks (one is unprotected).

The Knicks have adopted a youth agenda:

The Knicks have clearly cleared out the bad veteran deals on the team and focused on building from the ground up through youth. A superstar player would essentially have the authority to run the team, which would allow him to develop the players around him to fit his style. Meshing veteran players can sometimes be difficult, but the athleticism and adaptability of youth players is attractive.

Having a 19-year-old in Kevin Knox and an up and coming point guard in Smith Jr. is enticing, but winning a championship is an unrealistic reality in year one of the rebuild. Whoever chooses to invest their future in New York will have to come understanding that this is a three-year turnaround that will see improvements every year, meaning the patience is key.

EXTRA:

When Zion Williamson was asked if he would enjoy playing with Durant and Irving for the Knicks he stated, “It would be dope.” Yes, Zion, yes, it would be.

New York Yankees: Aaron Hicks projects power and consistency in ’19

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks is a New York Yankees player who stirs up mixed reactions from fans who either believe the analytics that he is one of the top ten center fielders in the game or who believe that he should hit higher than .240 and stay healthy.

Back on September 25th, Travis Sawchik of fivethirtyeight.com took a look at Hicks’ 2018 season and concluded that “the Yankees have unearthed a star.”

Hicks, according to Sawchik, blends one of the game’s strongest outfield arms (hitting 105.5 mph in 2016) with one of the league’s most disciplined bats and his WAR total in 2018 bears out what a complete player he has become:

“Through Sunday, Hicks was tied for 17th in position player wins above replacement at 4.9 WAR, according to FanGraphs. (Harper was tied for 38th.) WAR is an accumulative stat, so when we adjust for playing time,1 Hicks ranked 11th in baseball in WAR per 600 plate appearances since 2017. By that measure, he placed ahead of stars like Christian Yelich, J.D. Martinez and Kris Bryant in terms of overall performance per playing time.”

A quality outfield is essential for success:

Hicks features as a significant piece of the Yankees’ success in 2018, playing in 137 games, his most in pinstripes since being traded here in 2016.

Hicks reputation for being often injured is due to a pair of oblique injuries that landed him on the disabled list in June and September of 2017 and a pair of injuries that slowed his start to the 2018 season.  In 2017, he played in only 88 games.

Can we trust Hicks to remain healthy?

Is he injury prone? If he was, certainly playing in 137 games in ’18 should go a long way toward proving that he isn’t any longer.  Healthy, after the early injuries, he had a successful and productive season.

Hicks has become a more selective hitter since his days with the Twins. According to Sawchik, he ranked fifth in baseball in walk rate on the season at 15.8 and, in the second half of the season, he led baseball in walk rate at 19.6 percent. Sawchik notes:

“Only two major leaguers have walked more frequently and hit more home runs than Hicks this season: Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.”

Hicks’ 27 home runs, 79 RBI, 18 doubles and 90 walks were all career highs in ’18 and on the strength of that Hicks is projected by Steamer to have very similar numbers in the coming season.

If Hicks can replicate or improve upon his numbers in ’18, he can put to rest the fans’ complaints that he doesn’t hit for average and doesn’t stay healthy. With his arm, fielding range and newly discovered power, Hicks profiles as one of the top center fielders in the league.

New York Giants: Why We Shouldn’t Sleep On The 2019 QB Draft Class

The New York Giants are in the market for a new quarterback, but how will they acquire one? Let’s get one thing out of the way first:

How many times have fans “evaluated”  a player and claimed them be bad, poor, inadequate…you name it? When it comes to quarterbacks, everybody is a critic that believes they know the secret. Remember in 2017 when the top passers in the NFL Draft were Patrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky,  and Deshaun Watson?

Those three quarterbacks were projected to be busts, with Watson having the most upside but was still coined a run-first QB that is too reckless. Since those comments were made, Mahomes has blossomed into one of the most talented signal callers in the league and the potential face of the NFL for years to come…frog voice and all. The remaining two have become franchise quarterbacks and will stay put for at least the next five years.

Turning to Big Blue:

The New York Giants are in a position where they need to find a successor for Eli Manning, and while the 2019 NFL Draft doesn’t present the best options, especially when compared to 2020, there is plenty of talent and reason for excitement. Players like Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, and Kyler Murray offer optimism in regard to a “weak quarterback class.”

As we stated before, it’s not appropriate to coin the men on the table as busts already, and quite frankly, I don’t take any opinions seriously until I’ve done the research myself. I can guarantee a majority of fans haven’t even watched the tape on any of the players they seem to be so informed about.

A youth agenda:

The Giants need a quarterback to sit and learn behind their veteran leader, soaking in the knowledge and expertise he presents day-in and day-out. Manning’s intangible skills are some of the most developed in the NFL, which has value in of itself. Allowing a young player to sit behind him and develop is the perfect molding strategy and one that will likely happen in the year ahead.

Whether it be Haskins, Jones, or Murray, there’s no way of telling if any of them will succeed or not. Often times, a player is suited for the specific scheme the offense runs — just ask Case Keenum who was magnificent under Pat Shurmur and was benched with the Denver Broncos for his struggles.

Alex Wilson’s take:

Personally, I’m a big Haskins fan, at least when it comes to the options available in 2019. He’s a bit heavy-footed, but his accuracy is solid and he has the necessary athleticism to extend plays and continue drives. He would potentially be the first African-American franchise quarterback for the Giants in the team’s history. That’s noteworthy.

While his ethnicity has no relevance to how he performs on the field, it’s important that we don’t assume he’s a run-first quarterback, because he’s most certainly not. Haskins has deadly vision, a fantastic deep ball, and can throw under pressure.

Take a look at the clip below:

You can see that the Ohio State QB has long strides, which can cause sloppy footwork, but his arm strength compensates for that flaw. Watch as he immediately comes under pressure and throws awkwardly on a rope to the boundary. That’s impressive and something that a lot of teams are looking for in a franchise passer.

The ability to extend plays goes beyond running, and you can see that here with Haskins’ ability to launch the ball to the sideline without planting his feet.

Now, I don’t want this article to come off as a pro-Haskins one, which it seemingly sounds like. The point is, the 2019 draft is stacked with talent, it ultimately comes down to finding the right player with the right skill-set for your offensive scheme, and the Giants will be looking for exactly that.