The World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) released its updated men’s baseball national rankings earlier this week, with four European nations — Sweden, Hungary, Croatia and Great Britain — marking the biggest improvements in the newest world rankings.
Sweden made the biggest leap, jumping 33 spots to improve to 40th in the world on the back of the senior national team finishing 12th in last year’s European championship.
Croatia’s strong play at the same tournament, which began with a surprise 8-2 victory (box score) over Germany and ended with the country finishing seventh among the 16 participants, boosted the country’s standing by 11 spots.
Great Britain’s improvement — up nine spots to rank 23rd in the world — was driven by the senior national team finishing just ahead of Croatia at the European championship and its U23 squad finishing just outside of the medals at August’s U23 European championship.
For Hungary, on the other hand, it was the country’s youngest players who were responsible for the improvement in the rankings: up 15 spots to improve to 52nd in the world. The country’s U12 squad finished fifth at last year’s U12 European championship, raising hopes of more competitive Hungarian national teams as the talented generation matures.
In the overall rankings, the Netherlands remain Europe’s leading baseball nation (8th in the world).
Top-10 European Nations (improvement / overall ranking)
The Netherlands (-, 8)
Czech Republic (+2, 14)
Italy (-, 17)
Germany (-, 18)
Spain (-, 19)
Israel (+4, 20)
France (-, 22)
Great Britain (+9, 23)
Belgium (+3, 24)
Russia (+3, 28)