Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A league of our own

I've been trying to find as many former major leagues as possible who are playing in Europe or Asia. I don't know how successful I've been, but I'm trying.

In an interview I did for a student at a university here in the UK, who was writing on baseball, I answered that baseball was more than a fringe sport here, and some people disagreed and thought that it was. Might be, might not be. That's a good debate for another day.

But I wanted to do something different than highlight former big leaguers today. BaseballGB has an excellent, comprehensive list of British players playing in different leagues around Europe:

Country: The NetherlandsDivision: HoofdklasseTeams: Eight

Aeden McQueary-Ennis (ADO, 7th place)Aeden has been batting clean-up in recent games as ADO’s designated hitter, and so far this season has accumulated a league-leading .442 batting average to go with a .744 slugging average. His eight doubles puts him joint first in that category. He has also pitched in a few games, amassing 7.17 strike-outs per 9 innings and 1.89 strike-outs per walk, good for 14th and 15th place in those respective categories.

Country: GermanyDivision: Bundesliga SouthTeams: Seven

Chris Falls (Mannheim Tornados, 3rd place)Chris has played 13 games at second base and one at catcher. His .986 fielding average at second base in 74 chances puts him second in that category in the division, behind a fellow GB player (see below). He is tied for fifth in the division in runs scored with 18, and is hitting .310/.414/.382.

Richard Klijn (Buchbinder Legionäre, 1st place)Richard has appeared in two games for the the division-leading team, spending most of his playing time so far with the club’s second-tier team. In six games at shortstop, he has made just one error in 26 chances (for a .962 fielding average), and scored 8 runs (third in the league) and driven in 6 runs (fifth) while batting .278/.389/.480.

Will Lintern (Gauting Indians, 6th place)Will has caught in all 16 of the Indians’ games and is batting .172/.172/.234. He has been catching for GB team-mate Paul Waterman.

Craig Pycock (Mannheim Tornados, 3rd place)Playing on the same team as Chris Falls, Craig has played in seven games at third base, six at catcher, and one at second base, and has made two appearances on the mound (10.13 earned-run average). He is batting .275/.294/.413 and has struck out just four times in 64 plate appearances.

Paul Waterman (Gauting Indians, 6th place)With GB team-mate Will Lintern as catcher, Paul has pitched 44.0 innings (third in the division) and has a 2-5 record. He has an earned-run average of 3.27 (eighth), and has struck out 37 hitters (tied fourth), which gives him ratios of 7.57 per 9 innings (fifth) and 2.47 per walk (also fifth).

Sam Whitehead (Heidenheim Heideköpfe, 3rd place)Sam is batting .275/.294/.373 from 15games, all at second base. He is the only second baseman in the south with at least 8games who has has not made an error (58 chances). From the mound, he has picked up two saves (tied fourth in the division) from three appearances but has an earned-run average of 10.80.

Country: FranceDivision: Championnat de France - EliteTeams: Eight

Jason Holowaty (Montigny Cougars, 7th place)Jason has played in three games at second base and is hitting .125/.250/.300.

Alex Malihoudis (Templiers de Sénart, joint 4th place)Alex has made six appearances at catcher, three at second base, and one at shortstop and is batting .266/.266/.435 .
Ian Young (Rouen Huskies, 2nd place)Ian, who was part of the 2008 Templiers de Sénart squad, has moved to the Huskies, who are the defending champions. He has played all of his games so far in the outfield and is hitting an impressive .380/.380/.480.

Maybe baseball is a fringe sport here. I tend to think it isn't, but can't really back up that argument with any solid evidence. But it looks to me like there are a lot of good ball players in the UK, and the other leagues are wanting them. Maybe it is a problem, if they have to go to another country and play, instead staying at home. There isn't a viable professional league here, as such. It's definitely something to work on. But with players like this, we do have hope.

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