2012 Tewaaraton Trophy: Somebody Will (Probably) Win (I Think)

FOXBORO, MA - MAY 28: Mike Sawyer #4 of the Loyola Greyhounds tries to fend off the stick of Goran Murray #44 of the Maryland Terripans during the second half of Loyola's 9-3 win in the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship game at Gillette Stadium on May 28, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Tomorrow is a big day, boys and girls. I hope you found your fanciest clip-on bow tie. Yes, the one with the polka dots. That's my favorite.

On Thursday evening, the Tewaaraton Foundation will honor one of five men's finalists as its most outstanding player of the year. (A lovely lady will also take home a similar award on the women's side.) The folks charged with picking a winner this year have a difficult task on their hands: They can't just pick the NCAA tournament's most outstanding player like they have in years past as none of the award's finalists are Eric Lusby. Time to earn those ducats, fancy important people that hold lacrosse legacies in their hands.

I have no clue who's going to take home the giant doorstop at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, but, if I had a vote, I'd probably give it to this season's Enners Award winner -- Peter Baum. But, what do I know? Sitting in front of the air conditioner in my underpants is my favorite summer hobby.

Here's how things shake out on statrankings.com's "Player Statistical Index." Players are ranked by position, so C.J. Costabile kind of sits separate from his four other peers, but the values are adjusted for relative uniformity (in terms of production) across the positions. I'm not sure this is a perfect way to compare players from a statistical perspective -- it is still somewhat flawed as it uses games as opposed to possessions or another measure as its rate -- but it's one of the better metrics for general comparison.

TEWAARATON FINALISTS
PLAYER TEAM P.S.I. RANK
Peter Baum Colgate 4.58 1
Will Manny Massachusetts 4.48 2
Mike Sawyer Loyola 3.09 14
Steele Stanwick Virginia 4.31 3
PLAYER TEAM P.S.I. RANK
C.J. Costabile Duke 4.40 2

With that as a backdrop, and my eyeballs serving as a compliment, here's how I'd rank the finalists:

  • 5th: Mike Sawyer. Incredible talent and one of Loyola's most important players this season. There's just one problem with picking the Carolina native for the Tewaaraton -- his linemate, Eric Lusby, really outshined him down the stretch. This doesn't so much erode what Sawyer did in 2012, it just impacts -- relative to his competitors for the trophy -- how much Loyola relied on him to be ultimately successfully. (Which was a lot, I think it's just somewhat muted compared to these four other guys.)
  • 4th: Will Manny. This one stings personally, as Will Manny is Will Manny and Will Manny does Will Manny things. As good as Manny was this season for Massachusetts, he slowed down the stretch a bit and was really surrounded by a lot of talent (Biscardi, Kell, Smith, Fleming) that may have increased his production as much as Manny increased the production around him. For what it's worth, Manny finished the year ranked second nationally in "Total Offensive Value," which is basically points per team offensive possession adjusted for opponents faced.
  • 3rd: C.J. Costabile. I'd put Costabile as high as second but clearly no lower than third. When you talk about total lacrosse value, the Duke midfielder should be right toward the top of everybody's list of elite players. The guy was a groundball machine, took draws, and ignited transition. The problem I have with arguments about naming Costabile the Tewaaraton winner is this: If you're going to sell me on all-around game as a touchstone for taking home top honors, you need to convince me that, compared to his positional group and his finalist competitors, that Costabile was superior. I'm not exactly sure that Costabile, outside of his face-off work, was decidedly better than Scott Ratliff this season (and Ratliff was a much stronger defensive player).
  • 2nd: Steele Stanwick: Even though Stanwick was playing with one of the most talented offensive units in the country, Virginia doesn't sniff the NCAA tournament quarterfinals this season without him. The guy was a horse all season, carrying the Cavaliers on his back for extended stretches, and actually finished the season ranked first in "Total Offensive Value." I think there's only one guy that was more important to his team (and his team's success) this season other than Stanwick, and that's . . .
  • 1st: Peter Baum: Ask yourself a simple question: Where would Colgate have been this season without Baum? I'm not sure that the Raiders are any better than a .500 to .600 team without Baum's impact. He is one of the most explosive players in the country and his value -- in terms of production, leadership, and value in simply stepping on the field -- really is unmatched. The Tewaaraton Trophy doesn't always follow the lead of the Enners Award, but in this case, it should.

So, that's what I think. Who are you knuckleheads thinking should win this thing on Thursday?

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