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.
Well, what can we say about the TEMPLIERS and their 2008 French Elite League season? On the one hand they should be satisfied, as they dominated in the first part of the year, taking first place in the regular season and winning the Challenge de France. However in the end they again were beaten by ROUEN in the French Finals. And as like as in 2007, the HUSKIES needed five games to win their fifth championship.
SENART won 19 straight games at one point during the year and finished with a 24-4 record in first place in the regular season. They stayed at the top of the standings through the semi-final round, but dropped to second place on the last weekend of the playoffs with 30 victories in 40 games. They won games one and three in the finals, but lost the title, when ROUEN put an offensive show in games four and five.
What the stats say
The TEMPLIERS each ranked third in the league in batting average (.270/.387/.363) and team ERA (4.20). Their pitching staff allowed a run more per nine innings than in 2007 (ERA 3.21). However the offense balanced it out, as they put better numbers on the board this year (2007: .248/.371/.324). Together with a solid defense (54 errors in 416 IP) they scored 341 runs and allowed just 229 (194 ER) this season.
As expected at the beginning of the year, the pitching staff featured three solid starters. Samuel Meurant led the team with 25 appearances (19 starts) and a 14-5 record with seven complete games, including one shutout. He posted a 2.16 ERA with 176 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 158 innings. Opponents batted .238 against him. Despite his struggles in the finals, Evan Blesoff also had a nice season. The number two starter had a 10-4 record, an ERA of 3.06 and a batting average against of .197 in 19 games (16 starts). He struck out 149 (50 walks) in 123 2/3 innings. Mathieu Brelle-Andrade received some spot starts throughout the year and finished with a 7-3 record and an ERA of 4.17 in 22 games (nine starts). The 2007 French Finals MVP had 78 strikeouts (36 walks) in 82 innings pitched. No other pitcher on the staff appeared in more than 16 1/3 innings in 2008.
The offense was led by Ernesto Martinez and newcomer Sebastien Herve. Martinez (.300/.449/.488) hit five homeruns, four triples, seven doubles, scored 35 runs and drove in 31. Herve batted .323 (.422/.391) with 51 runs scored, 25 RBIs and 27 stolen bases (in 32 attempts). David Meurant (.326/.401/.406) scored 31 times and drove in 31. Ian Young hit .272 (.355/.364) with 35 runs scored and 30 RBIs. The other two acquisitions last winter Lahence Benhamida (.252/.381/.315, 34 runs, 21 RBI) and Gaspard Fessy (.248/.322/.348, 24 runs, 22 RBI) also had a solid year at the plate.
Overall SENART established their club as the number two in French Baseball and secured a spot in next year’s European Cups with the win at the Challenge de France. However the lost finals probably lead to a bitter taste in the mouth during the winter. In these five games against ROUEN, one thing was telling: the lack of depth in the pitching staff. The HUSKIES had a big reservoir available in the series, but the TEMPLIERS only had their trio of Meurant, Blesoff and Brelle-Andrade. And if one piece isn’t working as normal, they run into trouble. They have to invest in this area over the winter to challenge ROUEN next year.