Tom Schreiber, M, Ohio Machine
The 2016 Most Valuable Player was a little tardy to the 2017 season — he was busy winning the 2017 Rookie of the Year in the NLL. When Schreiber returned in Week Six, the Ohio Machine and opponents immediately felt the impact. His dynamic passing ability was immediately on display as he tallied ten assists in his first two games back. Throughout the season, Schreiber would continue to find his teammates and lead the league in assists for the second straight year, as he racked up 26 assists in just 10 games. While leading the league in assists, Schreiber also managed to cut his turnovers in half. In his 2016 MVP season he had 40 turnovers and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.95; this year, he had 21 turnovers and his assist-to-turnover ratio rose to 1.24, the third highest amongst players with 10 or more assists.
Schreiber’s goals and assists would impress anyone. But what impresses me the most is his will to win. His all-out hustle and willingness to sacrifice everything for his teammates is something a true competitor is just born with. As a captain, he is known as a modest, down-to-earth man who puts his teammate’s needs first but as an opponent he is known as a man who will never give up. As you follow him through the following play, you’ll understand why his hard work and dedication is contagious through the Ohio Machine franchise.
Jack Kelly, G, Denver Outlaws
Jack Kelly, one of the heroes from the amazing championship run just a season ago, has returned in his second year as a pro and has taken his play to a whole other level. In his sophomore regular season, he has nearly doubled his total number of saves while increasing his save percentage to just shy of 55 percent. Kelly commands a defense ranked third in defensive efficiency, giving up only 13.81 points per 45 possessions, all while leading the Outlaws to the best record in the MLL and a trip back to the Championship game. Kelly has stood on his head all season for the Outlaws and has come up big when it has mattered most.
Late in the season in Ohio and then at home against Chesapeake, Kelly helped the Outlaws secure the number one seed in 2017 MLL playoffs by having a combined 46 saves and only giving up 22 goals. His stellar play continued into the last week’s playoff game against the Rattlers where he boasted an 80 percent save percentage and gave up a season low four goals. Kelly has shown this year that he is ready to play his best on big stage and will get a chance to prove it this Saturday for a chance at back-to-back MLL Championships.
Peter Baum, M, Ohio Machine
A Major League Lacrosse Most Valuable Player award has been a long time coming for the 2012 Tewaaraton Award winner. The three-time All-Star has been a consistent weapon and leader for the Machine throughout his career. This season, Baum has been one of two players to play in all 14 games for the Machine and is a huge reason why they will be competing for yet another Steinfeld Cup this Saturday in Texas. In 2017, Baum, along with Eric Law, led the league with 52 points and has showed his versatility throughout the season.
Baum is the all around offensive threat that keep defenseman and goalies sleepless all season. If you leave his defender on an island, he’ll stick it in a corner. Slide to him and he’ll keep adding to his 19 assists this season. Give him space off ball and he’ll be fed by one of his many All-Star teammates and finish around the crease or from beyond the arc. Baum is one of the most dynamic midfielders in the game today, ending the 2017 regular season in the top-five in total points, unassisted goals, and assists and in the top 20 in goals and assisted goals.
The 2017 Coca-Cola Most Valuable Player nominees are two of the most dynamic and game changing midfielders that we have in the game today along with my vote for the Brine Goaltender of the Year. I believe the award will go to Peter Baum because he had one of the most well-rounded and consistent seasons in Major League Lacrosse History.