Jets free agent safety Jordan Whitehead draws glowing review from PFF

jordan whitehead, jets

One of the New York Jets’ best signings in free agency was strong safety Jordan Whitehead. The Jets had to sign an experienced veteran at the safety position. Whitehead is a young player at 25-years-old. He has played four NFL seasons. Whitehead has started at least 11 games each year of his career and played in 59 total games. Whitehead is also a recent Super Bowl champion.

This week, Sam Monson of PFF put together four different tiers of safety rankings. The tiers were coverage-free safety, box strong safety, matchup slot, and all-around. In the box strong safety category, Whitehead was ranked second.

The Jets added a talented defensive back with upside:

It is impressive recognition for the Jets’ big new addition. The skillset Whitehead has is an ideal one for a safety that routinely lines up in the box. He is a physical, tough player, who makes his presence felt over the middle, in the backfield, and sideline-to-sideline. Whitehead offers great versatility. He can stop the run, play in zone coverage underneath, and pressure the quarterback. He offers all the qualities needed to play the strong safety position.

Statistically, Whitehead has been consistent across the board. He has 22 tackles for loss over his four-year career, with at least four each season. He has 25 in his career in terms of passes defended, with at least four every year. Whitehead has totaled at least 69 tackles every season of his NFL career. Lastly, he has recorded two interceptions each of the last two years.

Whitehead is an exciting young addition for the Jets. He provides a significant upgrade compared to what the Jets had at safety a year ago. Whitehead should just be getting started entering his prime considering his younger age. Hopefully, Whitehead will be a core asset to the Jets’ defense for years to come.

Yankees starting 2B dealing with minor wrist injury, but fighting through it

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees have been struggling considerably on offense, but starting second baseman Gleyber Torres has performed well over the past few weeks. In April, Torres started the 2022 season with a .237 average and 27.7% on base rate. He has elevated those numbers in the month of May to .247 with a 28.6% on base rate. In fact, Torres has posted eight hits and four home runs in 28 at-bats over his last seven games, finally hitting his stride.

However, manager Aaron Boone stated that Torres was dealing with a minor wrist injury on Sunday. This only piles on the pressure after the roster was decimated by injury last week.

“He’s been getting some treatment for his wrist, but it hasn’t been something that’s really affected him much at all in the game,” manager Aaron Boone said before Sunday’s game, per the NY Post. “Just something he’s treating and making sure he does maintenance work on it.”

Torres has been showcasing his resiliency and toughness, playing through the injury and succeeding in the process. This season, he ranks in the 95th percentile in average exit velocity, 89th percentile in hard-hit rate, and 92nd percentile in xSLG.

Gleyber Torres is making great contact:

The 25-year-old infielder has been struggling to find his 2019 form over the past three seasons. He posted 38 homers and 90 RBIs during his sophomore campaign in the MLB, but he hit just .259 last year with nine homers. He’s failed to touch double-digit long balls in a season since 2019, but he’s destined to break that number this year, having hit nine already.

Gleyber’s slugging percentage is the highest it’s been since 2019 at .467. His strikeout rate is down to 18.3%, but he’s walking at just a 4.9% rate, down from 9.7% last year. However, his hard-hit rate is at 48% and is recording a 9.6% barrel rate. His exit velocity sits at 92.7 mph and has the highest launch angle at 18.9° since his rookie season back in 2018.

On paper, Torres is performing well in the batter’s box, and his luck is finally starting to shift after a tough opening two months to the season. Defensively, Torres has predominantly featured at second base. He’s committed two errors over 327.1 innings. His .987 fielding percentage is the best in his career, indicating he’s taking a step forward in that category. Once again, the Yankees can begin relying on Torres as their long-term solution at 2B, but they cannot shift him back over to shortstop.

Yankees reach Memorial Day as the strongest team in the AL despite two straight losses

aaron judge, yankees

The New York Yankees reached Memorial Day with a bittersweet taste in their mouths. On one hand, they are first in the American League East division and have the best record in the junior circuit. On the other hand, they are coming off two straight losses against the Tampa Bay Rays, a division rival.

“We’ve got a bad taste in our mouth,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said Sunday after the lost to Tampa. “Everybody in here is ready to go every single day. I know it’s been quite a few games in a row, but we’ve got a lot to prove.”

He was referring to the Yankees’ off day on Monday. The team has played 24 games on 23 days, so while the rest day is welcomed, Judge says that his teammates are ready to go and are still hungry.

That hunger and drive has allowed the Yankees to reach an incredible 33-15 record by Memorial Day.

The Yankees have been good all-around the diamond

However, Judge is happy with how the season has went for the Yankees so far. “We’re in first place,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’m going to look at, where we are in the standings. It’s better than being in second place, that’s for sure. So we’ve got a good ballclub here that’s been grinding out these first two months. We got hit with a couple injuries the last couple of weeks, but that’s not going to change what this team is about and what we can do.”

The Yankees have looked extremely solid, and despite a recent rash of injuries, it’s hard to deny that they are getting elite play from all departments. The rotation has a 2.82 ERA, best in the AL, and theur 3.15 bullpen ERA is the third best. They have also scored the third-most runs in the AL, at 4.6 per game. They look better than last year defensively, too, especially at two crucial positions: shortstop and catcher.

Judge, in particular, is on pace for an incredible season. He is hitting over .300 (.309/.376/.669) with 18 home runs, comfortably leading the league.

Despite the recent losses, the Yankees are looking good.

Ranking the New York Giants’ playmakers on offense

new york giants, saquon barkley, kenny golladay, kadarius toney

The New York Giants are heading into the 2022 season with a rebooted offensive line. They also added Kentucky stand-out playmaker Wan’Dale Robinson in the 2nd round of the 2022 NFL draft. However, we saw last year that despite having good players on the roster, coaching and schematics ultimately determine how successful a team will be.

Hiring Brian Daboll, former offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, and offensive assistant Mike Kafka from Kansas City should provide a more potent offensive system. We should expect to see more pre-snap motion, screen passes, and more stat-padding play-calls for Daniel Jones.

Jones’s success also boils down to the health of his playmakers, a variable that has impacted the team negatively in years past.

Ranking the New York Giants’ offensive playmakers:

1.) Saquon Barkley

When Saquon Barkley is healthy, he’s at the top of the list bar-none. However, having dealt with a number of significant injuries, including another sprained ankle in 2021, he ranks just slightly ahead of Toney, but that could change this upcoming season. Barkley has shown to be a dominant force in the past, tallying over 2000 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns during his rookie season back in 2018.

However, the offensive line’s performance is also a major factor to consider when it comes to Barkley’s success. If the line performs at an average level this year and he remains healthy, we should see the best of Barkley once again, but that is a big ”if.”

2.) Kadarius Toney

Former Florida stand-out Kadarius Toney tallied 420 yards over 39 receptions during his rookie season. He dropped three passes, representing a 7.1% drop rate, and forced 12 missed tackles, five of which came against the New Orleans Saints in Week 4.

Overall, there aren’t many players that move like Toney with his quick twitch capabilities. Given his explosive open field running and dominant man coverage routes, he ranks just behind Barkley when healthy among Giants playmakers. If he continues to battle injury, he will quickly drop down this list.

3.) Kenny Golladay

The Giants signed Kenny Golladay to a four-year, $72 million deal last off-season. In his first year with the Giants, Golladay recorded 521 yards and failed to score a touchdown for the first time in his career. He was a major disappointment, mainly because of how Jason Garrett utilized him in the offensive system. He played in 14 games, being targeted 76 times, the third-most in his career.

Golladay has the big possession frame you want for a quarterback to target downfield or in man coverage. At 6’4″ and 213-pounds, the Giants need to utilize him more in man, which will likely be a priority for a Daboll and Kafka moving forward.

4.) Wan’Dale Robinson

Kentucky receiver Wan’Dale Robinson has already made an impact during OTA‘s for the Giants. He has created good chemistry with Daniel Jones and made a few big plays downfield.

Robinson was dominant, being targeted downfield and in the screen game last year in the SEC. He ranked 6th in deep catchers with 16 and 3rd in screen catches with 35. He tallied 1,342 total yards and seven touchdowns, multiplying his 2020 production by 3x at least.

Robinson is also an extension of the run game with his ability to take end-arounds and jet sweeps, but he’s also dominant in the open field, curating 22 forced missed tackles, ranking 6th among collegiate receivers in 2021.

5.) Sterling Shepard

Sterling Shepard is coming off a torn Achilles, but he’s been moving well at OTA‘s and participating in individual drills. Shepard has struggled to remain healthy throughout his career, but he’s a lethal slot receiver who is considered one of the best red-zone options and route runners on the team.

While Shepard is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season, he should be able to make an impact upon his return, but he may have already lost his starting spot to Robinson when the time comes.

6.) Darius Slayton

Speedy receiver Darius Slayton has seen a massive fall-off in quality the past few seasons. After recording 740 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie in 2019, he managed only 339 yards and two scores last year in his third season.

Slayton posted an 18.8% drop rate with six in 2021, the highest of his career by over 8%. Slayton serves primarily as a deep threat. The rest of his game is wildly inconsistent and unreliable.

The Yankees have a big problem brewing at catcher

kyle higashioka, yankees

The bottom of the New York Yankees‘ batting order has been abysmal to start the 2022 season. One major variable that has impacted that group is the catcher position, housed by Kyle Higashioka and Jose Treviño.

When the Yankees originally traded with the Minnesota Twins, acquiring Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, and Ben Rortvedt, the expectation was that Rortvedt would feature as the 2nd option behind Kigashioka.

However, with Rortvedt requiring more time to rehabilitate from an oblique injury and then sustaining a knee issue, general manager Brian Cashman was forced to find a supplement. Former Texas Ranger Jose Treviño fit the bill perfectly, and he has been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball so far this season.

Higashioka, on the other hand, has been a complete liability on offense and has seen a significant downward swing in pitch framing and overall defensive quality.

A look at how Treviño and Higashioka are performing this season:

Trevino hosts a 54% strike rate, having some of the best numbers when framing pitches down and away and on the outer portion of the strike zone. Higashioka features a 46.6% strike rate, down significantly from the 55.5% strike rate he posted back in 2019. His best zone is on the outer portion of the strike zone, similar to Treviño, but the remainder of his strike zones are abysmal.

Interestingly, Higashioka has allowed four passed-balls this season and eight wild pitches over just 28 games. Last year, he allowed six passed-balls and 18 wild pitches over 66 games. The sample size has decreased, but his efficiency has also headed in that direction. Treviño, on the other hand, has allowed one passed-ball and eight wild pitches over 30 games this season, clearly providing better defensive quality.

There’s a reason that Aaron Boone has been utilizing Trevino as the everyday starter over Higgy, who has caught Gerrit Cole mostly but taken a backseat.

Offensively, Treviño has a .236 average with two homers and 10 RBIs. His 14.3% strikeout rate indicates he makes contact with the ball far more often than he strikes out. Higashioka has earned a .164 average with zero homers and five RBIs. He’s sitting at 23% regarding his strikeout rate and just a 22.2% on-base rate. Treviño is getting on base at nearly 29%, so he’s blowing him away in both the defensive and offensive categories.

The issue here is that if Treviño were to sustain an injury for any reason, the Yankees can’t rely on Higashioka to carry the load in his absence. In addition, they’ve been utilizing a platoon, so their playing time has been mostly split to open the 2022 season.

Whenever Higashioka plays, he’s an automatic out on offense. Brian Cashman may be considering acquiring a catcher to help the group. It does seem as if the Yankees still have faith in Higgy to turn his season around and offer a bit more power at the very least.

Good news and bad news as Yankees drop series finale against Tampa

luis severino, yankees

The New York Yankees’ offense has been anemic during their most recent four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Bombers lost the last two games of the series, scoring a combined three runs but allowing just seven, showcasing more quality pitching performances.

After Gerrit Cole lasted 6.0 innings, giving up just one run and striking out 10 batters on Saturday, Luis Severino did his best over 6.1 innings, giving up two hits, four earned runs, and eight strikeouts. Severino did his part to give the Yanks a chance at victory despite giving up two homers on a few poorly located pitches.

However, the Yankees simply can’t continue to rely on their starters to carry them to victory — they need more offensive production.

Good news and bad news as the Yankees drop the series finale against Tampa:

In the series finale loss to Tampa, the Yankees tallied nine hits but struck out nine times and failed to get on base via a walk. The Bombers didn’t show much patience at the plate, but several hitters performed well. Gleyber Torres recorded three hits and a solo homer in the 2nd inning to left field. Torres has elevated his average to .243 with a 28.2% on base rate. He’s slowly getting his season together and performing more efficiently, but he still has a long way to go if he wants to catch up after a tough start to the 2022 season.

Aaron Judge also posted two hits and an RBI, increasing his average to .309 with a 37.6% on base rate. However, fellow slugger Joey Gallo continues to struggle, failing to get on base over four at-bats. Kyle Higashioka has also been a detriment on offense, posting an even worse batting average than Gallo at .164 and a 22.2% on base rate. The Yankees simply can’t continue to utilize Higgy on offense if he’s going to be an automatic out for the most part.

As for the pitching, young relief arm Ron Marinaccio labored once again, allowing two walks in 0.2 innings, allowing two runners to score, which were attributed to Severino’s stat line.

Overall, the Yankees’ starting rotation has been stellar thus far, but the bullpen has gone through a few issues, and the offense is wildly inconsistent. Without Giancarlo Stanton in the clean-up spot, manager Aaron Boone is finding it difficult to supplement his production. When the bottom of the order is performing at an abysmal rate, the top of the order is expected to generate most of the run-production, which is an unsustainable strategy.