New York Jets: S Marcus Maye named Team MVP

The fourth-year safety topped the list of honorees as the New York Jets released their list of team award winners.

As it turns out, a fourth-year safety from the SEC wound up making a big difference for the New York Jets after all.

The team announced on Thursday that safety Marcus Maye was the winner of their Team MVP Award for the 2020 season. Named after legendary rusher Curtis Martin, the award is voted upon by Jets players. Maye’s name will be added to a large wall at One Jets Drive’s training facility in Florham Park, joining fellow secondary defenders Jamal Adams (2018-19), Darrelle Revis (2009, 2011-12), Brian Washington (1992), and Dainard Paulson (1964).

Forced to take on a larger, stronger role on the Jets defense with Adams dealt to Seattle during the offseason, Maye has earned positive reviews for his 2020 performance and has served as a rare silver lining in a brutal season. He currently ranks second on the team in tackles (71, including a pair of sacks) and leads with 11 pass breakups. Maye has also earned his share of highlight-reel plays, including jaw-dropping interceptions against Miami and Seattle. He also had a critical pass defense in the final stages of the Jets’ Sunday visit to Los Angeles, where they earned their first win of the season over the Rams.

Speaking with Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com, Maye credited his teammates with helping him win the prestigious green honor.

“I’m out there showing the ability that I have, but it’s not just me out there, it’s 10 other guys,” Maye said. “We all have a common goal and that’s to make plays and win games, and when we step out on the field, that’s what we try to do. So hats off to them.”

“Showing up to work each day and seeing that wall right in front of the door, you have no choice but to look at it and see all the names on it, see all the greats that have been through here. So just being part of that, something that’s going to be there forever, that’s definitely an honor.”

Maye, a second-round pick out of Florida in 2017, is set to become a free agent this coming offseason.

“He’s one of those guys that works hard and doesn’t talk much, but he will speak up if he feels like he has to,’’ former Jets teammate and modern New York Giant Leonard Williams told Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post. “I think it’s even more powerful sometimes when you hear something from a guy that doesn’t talk much. You know he means it.’’

Other honorees released by the Jets on Thursday included…

S Matthias Farley: Maye wasn’t the only safety honored on Thursday, as Farley won the Community Service Award named after Marty Lyons, the Jets’ former defensive star and current radio analyst. This season, Farley has made virtual visits to Atlantic Health Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ. He joins Kevin Mawae and Kyle Wilson as the only two-time winners of the title.

DL Folorunso Fatukasi: In the midst of a breakout season on the defensive line, Fatukasi has also won the Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award. The title is voted upon by the Jets’ staff and is named after the longtime defensive presence.

RB Frank Gore: The 38-year-old rusher was bestowed Most Inspirational Player Award named after the late Dennis Byrd. Gore joins his fellow running back Martin (2001-03) on the list of winners of the honor, which pays tribute to Byrd’s recovery from a devastating neck injury during a 1992 game.

TE Ryan Griffin: Griffin was nominated by his teammates to be the Jets’ representative in the Ed Block Courage Award The title is earned by players who “exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage”. Griffin has been praised for rehabbing through an ankle injury suffered last season in unusual times. He has played a majority of offensive snaps this season.

WR Denzel Mims: Injuries have prevented Mims from making a true impact on the field, but the second-round choice earned the Bill Hampton Award, sent to the “Rookie Who Acts Like a Pro”. It is named after a former Jets equipment manager.

The Jets (1-13) return to action on Sunday afternoon for their final home game of the season against the Cleveland Browns (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen wins sixth Offensive Player of the Week award

Allen took home his fourth Player of the Week Award this season. Only Jim Kelly has earned more such titles in Buffalo Bills history.

Less than three seasons into his Buffalo Bills career, Josh Allen is already approaching Jim Kelly territory.

The NFL announced on Wednesday that the Bills’ quarterback has earned his fourth AFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of the season, stemming from a dominant performance in last Saturday’s visit to Denver. Allen put up 392 total yards of offense and four touchdowns (two each through the air and on the ground) in a 48-19 win over the Broncos, one that would allow the Bills to clinch their first AFC East title since 1995.

This season has been downright historic for Allen, whose emergence has been a large factor behind the Bills’ divisional takeover. Allen became the first quarterback in NFL history to score at least seven touchdowns in each of his first three seasons and he also joined Cam Newton and Daunte Culpepper as the only quarterbacks in league history to earn at least 60 scores through the air and at least 20 on the ground.

With the sixth Player of the Week award (with one each added in 2018 and 2019), Allen is now behind only Jim Kelly for the biggest haul in team history. This one for the Denver triumph broke a tie with Thurman Thomas with five and he also ties a single-season record for most Player of the Week Awards tallied by a Bill since O.J. Simpson in 1973.

Elsewhere in the AFC’s Week 15 affairs, Indianapolis lineman DeForest Buckner won the Defensive Player of the Week title, while Kansas City punter Tommy Townsend was the special teams representative.

Buffalo (11-3) returns to action on Monday night, taking on the New England Patriots in their final home game of the regular season (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen takes home 3rd AFC Player of the Week title

Allen’s latest weekly award stems from a four-touchdown performance in the Buffalo Bills’ win over San Francisco in Glendale.

Josh Allen’s propensity for weekly awards may be bringing a sense of routine into the Buffalo Bills’ unusual season.

The franchise quarterback has earned his third AFC Player of the Week Award of the 2020 season, earned through a stellar performance in the Bills’ Week 13 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Glendale, Arizona on Monday night. Allen took over the displaced proceedings, completing 32-of-40 passes for 375 yards and four touchdown passes in Buffalo’s 34-24 victory.

Other weekly accolades for Allen came in Weeks 2 and 9. He becomes the first Bills player to tally three Player of the Week Awards since kicker Steve Christie in 2000, and the first to earn at least three of the offensive variety since O.J. Simpson won four in 1973.

Allen has already set new career-highs in nearly every major passing category, including yardage (3,403) and touchdowns (26). His breakthrough season has been a major factor behind the Bills’ strong season and why they’re on pace for their first AFC East division title since 1995.

Originally seen as a polarizing pick out of Wyoming upon his NFL arrival in 2018, many have changed their tune on Allen, now seen as the strongest return from the year’s highly publicized quarterback class. Among his new fans is Rainn Wilson, best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on the NBC series The Office. During Monday’s performance, the actor tweeted out that Allen was his “second favorite quarterback”, to which Allen inquired whether he was “Assistant favorite Qb, or assistant to your favorite Qb?”, referencing a recurring gag that victimized Wilson’s breakout role of assistant regional manager/assistant to the regional manager Dwight.

Allen will get a chance to make his own memories on the Peacock Network this Sunday, as the Bills will partake in the prime time night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

The Bills’ weren’t the only AFC East representatives on the Player of the Week ledger this week. New England punt returner Gunner Olszewski took home the special teams edition, while Miami’s Kyle Van Noy was named the top defender. Elsewhere in New York, Leonard Williams of the Giants took home that NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week honor for his efforts in an upset win in Seattle.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty’s Jazmine Jones named to AP’s All-Rookie team

Jazmine Jones, New York Liberty

The New York Liberty rookie is the first metropolitan representative on the list since a pair of showings in 2015.

Lou York City woke up to some good news on Tuesday.

New York Liberty draftee Jazmine Jones was one of five players named to the Associated Press’ WNBA All-Rookie Team. The Louisville alumna was chosen with the final first-round pick (12th overall) of April’s draft.

Jones’ rookie season wrapped on Sunday. Her name appeared at or near the top of several major statistical categories amongst first-years. She led her fellow debuts in steals (1.4 per game) and also finished fourth among them in scoring (10.8), sixth in assists (2.3). Overall, she also finished fifth in efficiency rating (10.2).

In New York’s Bradenton bubble endeavors, Jones was called upon to take an expanded role in the point guard position after the season-ending injury to top overall pick Sabrina Ionescu in July. Jones had not played the position since her high school days at Florida A&M’s Developmental Research School in Tallahassee, but earned positive reviews for stepping in. Her impact was felt immediately after Ionescu’s injury. When the top pick left July 31’s game against Atlanta with an ankle ailment, Jones went on to score 20 points in a narrow loss.

“Her stepping up and playing the PG, which is not really her position, she’s doing an incredible job of observing everything that Layshia (Clarendon) is doing, following her way,” veteran teammate Amanda Zahui B observed over the summer. “She also allows herself to make mistakes at first but then correct them. She’s a quick learner and she’s doing great.”

“The main thing about Jaz is her energy,” Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins added. “When she brings her energy, no matter what, she brings us a lot. It’s defensive, it’s toughness, swagger. Jaz has been huge for us.”

Jones ended her season on a strong note, scoring a team-best 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting in the Liberty’s season finale against the Dallas Wings on Sunday afternoon. Her infantile career-best game through 24 points on August 11 against Los Angeles. It kickstarted a streak of six consecutive games in double-figures for Jones.

Next season, Jones is expected to reunite with former Louisville teammate Asia Durr, the second overall pick of the 2019 draft. In the bubble, Jones was joined by another college teammate, Kylee Shook, who was chosen immediately after her at 13th overall.

Jones is the first Liberty representative on the AP’s rookie squad since 2015, when Brittany Boyd and recent re-signee Kiah Stokes each earned the honor. Other modern nominees for the team include Crystal Dangerfield (Minnesota), Chennedy Carter (Atlanta), Satou Sabally (Dallas), and Julia Allemand (Indiana).

The WNBA’s official awards will be announced throughout the course of the playoffs, which begin on Tuesday in Bradenton’s IMG Academy (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Way Too Early MLB Award Predictions

With the MLB season less than a month away, there is a lot of buzz over who will be most successful in what is a most unusual season as it’s only going to be 60 games. This means a hot start out of the gate is crucial, and could screw up some numbers this year. Guys like Giancarlo Stanton have slugged over .800 in a 60 game stretch and while I don’t think we will see that, you never know when the game is so different this time around.

This definitely will play some factor in my choosing of awards but not too much, as I believe these guys were candidates for said awards even before this reduced size of games.

With that being said, let’s get to the awards:

AL MVP: Mike Trout

Why don’t people talk enough about Mike Trout being robbed of the MVP in 2012, 2013, and 2015? He had the better fWAR by nearly 3 wins in 2012 than Miggy with better defense AND a better wRC+. In 2013? The fWAR gap is still massive, and while the offense was pretty close, the defense was obviously in Trout’s favor, plus in both years Trout had baserunning value with 40 and then 33 stolen bases. Then in 2015 the same deal, better fWAR, better wRC+, better baserunning, but this time the defense was comparable.

Thank god Trout won it last year, because he was definitely the best player in baseball last year (again), and yes he deserved it WAY more than DJ. There’s no indication besides his potential to opt-out that gives me any reason to believe anyone in the AL is on his level, especially since Betts just got traded to the NL. The only guy who’s going to give Trout a run for his money is Aaron Judge, but I have to hand the 3x MVP and arguably best CF of all time this one. He’s got the wRC+, the fWAR, the wOBA, the OBP, and he’s a solid defender, so this is a no-brainer (Unless the voters screw him over again, like they always do).

NL MVP: Mookie Betts

Look I love Christian Yelich but Betts can do one thing that will make him the MVP; he can field at an elite level. Yes Yelich is the better hitter but they are comparable in offense but Betts is an elite glove, being a top 10 defensive outfielder in the sport. Yelich could win his 2nd in 3 years but I have more faith in the recently acquired superstar who’s going to be the best player in the National League.

AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole

The BEST pitcher in baseball, with the best xFIP and best SIERA (excluding Chris Sale who’s hurt) and who will finally win the Cy Young. He was ROBBED last year by voters who clearly don’t know how to select award winners. Gerrit Cole will have to just come to NY and win the Cy Young in “deGrom’s town” and I can sit back and bask in the glory of having the best pitcher in the sport (until Chris Sale comes back, seriously that dude is special) and enjoy a nice Cy Young from our latest investment in talent.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer

Let’s be VERY clear about this, Jacob deGrom is an elite pitcher and a future HOFer and was incredible in 2018 and 2019. That being said, the most important pitching stat is SIERA for showing sustainability of performance that we record in ERA and FIP, and Max Scherzer in 2019 had a better season with a better FIP, xFIP, and SIERA, and people will scream about ERA but if that was the case then Hyun-Jin Ryu should’ve won the NL Cy Young right? ERA is not a stat that shows sustainability rather it shows results, results that can vary and change depending on the peripheral stats I just mentioned.

Max Scherzer had a stronger 2019 and Jacob deGrom regressed enough from 2018 for me not to feel like I’m doing deGrom a disservice, as he can still win the award, but I just find Scherzer to be the better pitcher RIGHT NOW.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jesus Luzardo

This hard throwing lefty will get a lot of time out the gate to pitch for the A’s and I think he will flourish, as he is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. In his MiLB career, he has a 2.53 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 234 strikeouts in only 195.2 innings. He had a short 12 inning stint in the MLB last year and had a 1.50 ERA with a 3.37 xFIP and 2.77 SIERA and 16 strikeouts. I think he will log around 50 innings which will be enough for him to be in that ALROY race and, in my opinion, win it.

NL Rookie of the Year: Gavin Lux

I wanted to put Dylan Carlson out of St. Louis however I believe Lux is the more talented player. He had performed okay for the Dodgers in 2019 in his short stint but he underperfomed his .343 xwOBA, .288 xBA, and his .455 xSLG. The reason I not his xBA is because his BB% is around average and so with his batting average being around .288 it would give him an OBP around .350. I think he will have an even higher BB% as in the MiLB it’s always been pretty high. Lux also is a good defender at 2B with a 2 OAA in a small amount of attempts, so he will probably be the most complete rookie in the NL.

AL Reliever of the Year: Nick Anderson

I think Nick Anderson is a VERY underrated reliever, as in his first full season he had a 2.21 SIERA and a 2.44 xFIP while whiffing 110 batters in 65 innings. It was even better once he got to Tampa, as after being dealt there he pitched 21.1 innings, struck out 41 batters, had a 1.19 xFIP and 1.03 SIERA which is just INCREDIBLE. He also owned a 0.60 WHIP and will make a case for the best reliever in the sport after this season.

NL Reliever of the Year: Josh Hader

Josh Hader is a high usage reliever with great peripherals and results. He’s been the anchor of the Brewers bullpen and will be the best reliever in the NL again. Hader is a special arm talent and is probably the best strikeout reliever in the sport right now, and has a 1.73 SIERA since 2018, the best out of all relievers in the sport. He’s elite and will remain king of the NL bullpens.

AL Platnium Glove: Matt Chapman

I would give this to Andrelton Simmons but his health concerns have made him lose both the 2018 and 2019 Platnium Glove to the A’s star 3rd baseman Matt Chapman. With Chapman’s DRS being impeccable at 64 since 2019 and his 14 OAA shows his defensive dominance. He’s the best defensive 3rd baseman in the sport, and he’s going to win his 3rd straight Platnium Glove to show us why.

NL Platnium Glove: Nick Ahmed

I think that Nick is the best defensive infielder in the NL (even better than Nolan Arenado), as he plays the hardest defensive position besides catcher in the infield which does affect how good I think he is AND his DRS, OAA, and his Success Rate metrics in the last two years make him a prime candidate for this award. I think Harrison Bader is another player with a great shot at this award but for now, I’ll go with Nick Ahmed.

AL Silver Sluggers

C: Mitch Garver
1B: Matt Olson
2B: DJ LeMahieu
3B: Anthony Rendon
SS: Carlos Correa
OF: Aaron Judge
OF: Mike Trout
OF: George Springer
DH: Yordan Alvarez

NL Silver Sluggers

C: JT Realmuto
1B: Max Muncy
2B: Ketel Marte
3B: Justin Turner
SS: Trevor Story
OF: Juan Soto
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Christian Yelich
DH: JD Davis (if he is the DH)

AL Gold Glove Picks

C: Yasmani Grandal
1B: Matt Olson
2B: DJ LeMahieu
3B: Matt Chapman
SS: Andrelton Simmons
OF: Aaron Judge
OF: Kevin Kiermaier
OF: Byron Buxton
P: Zack Grienke

NL Gold Glove Picks

C: JT Realmuto
1B: Christian Walker
2B: Kolten Wong
3B: Nolan Arenado
SS: Nick Ahmed
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Harrison Bader
OF: Cody Bellinger

Those are my picks for the 2020 MLB awards, let me know what you would change or if anyone was snubbed out of an award, this season’s going to be crazy, so I expect to get a lot wrong.