College NCAA

Baum Vs. Pannell: By the Numbers

baum_vs_pannell

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Markus McCaine back to the LaxAllStars.com Family! Markus is going to be dicing up some lacrosse numbers for us this year, and he’ll be using MATH to make predictions and keep you informed. To see Markus’ first post, check out 2013 Final Four: By The Numbers.

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It’s time to answer the question of who is the best? Who’s taking home the bronze Mohawk native statue this year? For me, and many people, it comes down to two guys. Will it be Cornell’s Rob Pannell, or defending Tewaaraton Trophy winner, Peter Baum?

Let’s break down both players…

baum_vs_pannell

As we all know Pannell was granted a fifth year of eligibility after a broken foot brought his 2012 campaign to a grinding halt. Before the injury (2009-2011) Pannell averaged 4.54 points per game. That’s just nuts; I don’t really need to say more, but I will.

Pannell is a beast; but is he really the going to take Cornell to the promise land and bring home the hardware in late May? He is a feeding machine. Pannell puts up over two goals per game, but the cornerstone to his game is feeding his teammates. This couldn’t be more evident looking at Cornell’s team assist percentage.

Team assist percentage is the percentage of a team’s goals that come from assists. It is a true measure of how well a team moves the ball on offense. With Pannell on the field (2010, 2011), Cornell posted .569 and .532 team assist percentages respectively. But with Pannell on the bench, in 2012, the Big Red only posted a measly .474 percentage.

Cornell also failed to make the National Tournament without Pannell in the roster, a true tribute to his importance. The Big Red plummeted to No. 15 with just a 9-4 record.

Peter Baum hails from Oregon, the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest, home to MCLA legend Con Bro Chill and Bigfoot. What catches my eye about Baum is not how far he is from home, but instead his pure scoring ability. Baum didn’t put up 96 points (67g, 29a) last season for no reason. And 67 goals put Baum sixth on the single season goals record list.

Who knew the Portland kid could snipe corners? At this point, everyone.

During Baum’s trophy-winning season, he averaged 5.39 points per game. Colgate, as a team, averaged 13.11 goals per game – which was second best in the nation. That is almost a five goal jump from their 2011 season where they only averaged 8.88 goals per game. Colgate’s team assist percentage also saw a jump from .458 to .538. Baum’s presence on the field for the Raiders is clearly crucial for their success.

Pannell gave Baum the ultimate compliment while they were teammates at the prestigious Vail Shootout, saying Baum was probably the best shooter he has ever played with. At this point here is nothing more that needs to be said about Baum’s shooting. Baum was the reason Colgate shocked No. 1 UMass in the first round and Baum was the most valuable player to his team.

Both players are clearly central to their respective teams’ triumph but the goal of this is not to praise but to separate. They are both ballers, but we need to divide and conquer. So to do this, I’m going to take a look at a stat that many people will let fly right over their heads – turnovers per game.

I like to compare Pannell’s 2011 campaign with Baum’s 2012 season, as those were both players’ best campaigns, and I think that those seasons give us the best preview of what will come this year. Pannell averaged 2.41 turnovers per game in 2011. As a matter of fact, Pannell’s turnovers per game have risen in each of his first three seasons at Cornell. Baum on the other hand, only turned the ball over 1.5 times a game in 2012.

For most, this is just something to think about, but this really put it all in perspective for me.

What I really think we have here is the case of scoring vs. feeding- an age old debate in the lacrosse world. On one hand you’ve got Pannell, your traditional shifty feeder. And on the other side of the coin you’ve got Baum, the sharpshooter. To really shed light on this endless shooter-feeder debate, we need to consult the trends. Let’s take a look at how the Tewaaraton voters have voted on their choices for player of the year.

We will say, for the sake of simplicity, that a feeder is somebody who recorded more assists than goals, and a sharpshooter will be one who has more goals than assists.

In the 12 years of the Tewaaraton trophy, we have seen seven scorers win the award, as opposed to five feeders. That may not be staggering odds but it may show that the voting committee slightly favors goal scorers. It is also worth noting that we have only seen a two-time Tewaaraton winner once (Mike Powell) and we have never seen a back-to-back Tewaaraton winner.

This is the year we see a back-to-back winner.

I am giving a slight edge to Baum, but not by much. Baum gets the nod for me for his scoring. He is deadly accurate and can make even the best goalies shake in the boots. He makes his team much better, and seems to have history on his side. For that reason, Peter Baum will win the 2013 Tewaaraton Trophy.

So who do YOU think is going to take home the hardware this year? Pannell? Baum? Or did I miss somebody who is going to shock the world?

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4 Comments

  • I like Pannell for this and here is why. Pannell is definitely a feeding machine, however if you look at 2011 vs his first 2 years his stats breakdown is much more balanced (42 g, 47 a). He can beat you by himself or by making his team better.

    Finally the argument that the trend favors shooters over feeders is not true. In the 12 years of the Teewaarton 8 attackmen, and 4 middies have won the award. I would argue that none of the 4 middies (4 “scorers”) won because of their scoring ability (although it played a part), but it was more for the fact that these were do-it-all type players/2 way middies/more complete. So in reality the breakdown for attack is 3 scorers vs 5 feeders.

  • “That may not be staggering odds but it may show that the voting committee slightly favors goal scorers.” 
    I was not trying to say that that is definitely the way the committee swings. I was only try to shed light on how it might be a plausibility that they ever so slightly favor scorers.

    I tried to make the assumption (to eliminate variability), that a scorer was someone who scored more goals than recorded assists and a feeder was the opposite. I did not factor in two way middies, more complete players, etc. so that I could categorize the Tewaaraton winners. I tried to measure scoring ability vs. feeding ability while eliminating the ‘noise’ of other stats and immeasurable categories.

  • My point was that position is a huge variable that you didn’t eliminate. When you compare apples to apples you actually see a slight trend in the opposite direction.

    Either way Baum and Pannell are both amazing players and it’s going to be fun to watch this season.

  • If only the award were given out on the basis of who had the best stats. (Un)Fortunately (depending on your opinion of the selection process), this is and has never really been the case. In years past, the common theme of all Tewaaraton winners has been that they generally evoke a “good” story within the lacrosse community.

    In 2011, Steele Stanwick “statistically” was not even close to being the best player in the country. Yet, when the time for a decision came, the committee went with the player who had taken his team from the brink of collapse, a team under national scrutiny for both the tragedy involving Yeardly Love and the dismissal of two of the most hyped players to ever enter the college game, to the promise land of winning a national championship. Ask many people and you will hear that Rob Pannell SHOULD have won the Tewaaraton that year. After all, was it not Pannell who represented College Lacrosse at that year’s ESPY awards for Best Male Athlete? Track the award further back in time and the trend is very apparent. Ned Crotty for leading a championship-starved Duke team suffering from a Duke Rape Scandal sized curse to win the national championship. Max Seibald for his heroic on-field acts of self sacrifice that helped a relatively undervalued Cornell team to Memorial Day weekend. Mike Leveille for captaining the Orange’s return to victory and glory after not even making it to the tournament the season prior. I can go on and on and on.

    I would like to clarify by saying that I am by no means taking away how great these players are and how they truly deserved to win the awards that they did. I admire every one of them and consider myself lucky to have witnessed their domination of the college game. I am only attempting to show that, in reality, statistics and numbers have nothing to do with who wins the Tewaaraton Award, and that if Rob Pannell comes anywhere close to putting on a show like he did back in 2011, and if Peter Baum falls anywhere short of taking his team to Memorial Day Weekend, then the award will surely end up in #3’s hands .

    Senior year season-ending injury…unselfish semester-long trip to help underprivileged children in Uganda…(possibly (and probably)) rising from the ashes to lead the Big Red to national prominence once again… In my opinion, it is Pannell’s award to lose.

    Either way, I am extremely excited to either be proven wrong or right, and to see both of these great players light up the field once again this season.

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