After looking at the German Baseball-Bundesliga a few weeks ago, we would like to continue in our review series with the French Elite League.
MONTPELLIER won eight of the last ten games of the regular season to move into the postseason as the number four team with a 15-13 record and a 194-108 run differential. In the semi-final round with ROUEN, SENART and SAVIGNY they started with a victory against the HUSKIES, but dropped the following eleven games to finish the year with a 16-24 record in fourth place in the final standings.
This equals their result from 2007, when they also were fourth with a 13-11 record after the regular season. Afterwards they lost in four games to ROUEN in the semis. But thanks to the format change during the playoffs the BARRACUDAS got twelve games more this year.
What the stats say
In comparison to 2007 they had a much improved pitching staff. The University Club lowered the team ERA from 4.51 to 3.78, which was good enough for second place in the league behind champion ROUEN. The offensive numbers nearly stayed at the same level, as they batted .254 (OBP .371/SLG .339), which only was percentage points under last year (.257/.356/.335). This is quite impressive, as they faced much better competition in the last third of the season.
In contrary to early reports at the beginning of the year, they welcomed back Nathan French. Their biggest bat from 2007 (Brett Erickson, .443/.515/.602) left the club though. French was mostly used as a reliever and had a 3-4 record with an ERA of 2.44 in 26 games (seven starts). He struck out 95 (36 walks) in 88 2/3 innings. He got help in the bullpen from Laurent Andrades, who had the lowest ERA (2.41) on the staff, going alongside with 28 K’s (21 walks) in 37.1 innings pitched. Edouard Masse and Thomas Meley were their main starters. Each began a game twelve times this year. Masse went 3-7 with an ERA of 4.23 and 66 strikeouts in 83 innings, while walking 36. Meley had a 4-8 record with an ERA of 5.15. He struck out 44 (19 walks) in 73 1/3 innings.
On the offensive end MONTPELLIER brought in William Devick to replace Erickson as the big slugger in the lineup. He batted .337 (.420/.570) with two homeruns, three triples, eight doubles, 19 runs scored and eleven RBIs in 21 games. Besides him Gregory Cros (.491/.538/.800) also impressed at the plate, but only in limited time, as he played just in 14 games. 13 of his 27 hits went for extra bases. He scored 22 runs and drove in eleven. French also had a solid year with the bat, going .328 (.384/.478) with 13 runs scored and 21 RBIs in 33 games. Player/coach Jean Michel Mayeur (.326/.433/.458) led the team with 29 runs scored and 25 RBIs in 39 games. Jonathan Haras (.274/.405/.377) had the most stolen bases on the team with 16.
Overall the BARRACUDAS were a balanced ball club, which hadn’t to rely on one or two star players. This led to a constant performance during the regular season. In the playoffs however they probably lacked some quality in comparison to the top three teams in France. On the other hand they had fulfilled their goal for the season by simply reaching the postseason. And due to the format they never really had chance to reach the finals from the beginning, which might led to some motivational problems in the end.