Our series of Under-23 European Championship reviews have so far zoned in primarily on specific games or players, but today we look at the teams as a whole. As one might expect, the nations that finished at the opposite ends of the table had statistics generally reflecting their results, but several teams had anomalous figures that help identify strengths and weakness in the club’s approach.
The Stats Behind the Results
Though Makarkin and Bond topped the list of show-stopping efforts on the mound, as we discussed on Friday, few teams had deep pitching staffs as is typical at tournaments with younger players. The inexperience added up to a collective 5.59 ERA (though 11 teams bested this figure) and 6.3 walks per nine, although the average of all runs (earned and unearned) was 7.36. These numbers do discredit to the vast majority of teams, for without Georgia’s 20.06 ERA, the collective mark plummets to 4.90, a very respectable mark.
The tournament featured a number of high-scoring games, with France joining Germany in posting 24 runs against Georgia. In fact, an average of 13 runs was scored by each team in each game, though teams collectively hit only .257 as walks were a problem in games involving teams in the lower half of the standings.
Unfortunately, base on balls tend to be a problem in international tournaments with a wide array of participants, and teams averaged 11 walks per game between them. Inexplicably, it was the championship game that featured the most free passes of any, with the Netherlands and the Czech Republic combining for 23, though France had 16 against Georgia alone. In that contest, Sylvain Perrin took four free passes, while Czech batter Voytech Menšik took an incredible 11 walks in six games without facing Georgia, who walked 68 in 35 innings.
Spain had the tournament’s best collection of hurlers, combining for a 1.50 ERA in its six games. It led the Euros in batting average against (.158), fewest earned runs (9), and saves (3). German pitchers impressed with a 2.74 ERA (third), .166 average against (second), and the best strikeouts per game ratios (9.6) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.9).
Czech Republic was also dominant, with the second-best ERA (2.15) and K/9 (9.4), and fourth lowest opponents’ average (.201). Germany permitted only a .166 average and .217 slugging percentage on the way to a 2.74 ERA. Also worth noting was Great Britain’s stellar 2.92 walks per nine (first) and 2.6 K/BB ratio (third).
By far the most surprising effort on mound came from Russia, which had a 3.57 ERA (fifth), 3.74 BB/9 (second), 9.3 K/9 (third), and K/BB (2.5), while opponents hit .228 against them (fifth). It was not just Makarkin, who had a 19-strikeout game, either. The starting rotation combined for a 2.41 ERA, and Denis Leonov, Viacheslav Shmelev, and Denis Ladoshkin all joined Makarkin with sub-3.00 ERAs.
The Netherlands took the crown on the strength of its hitting, stroking a .333/.458/.473 line, though its 2.88 ERA was hardly poor. It is unsurprising, however, that the Czech Republic made it to the final as well, slashing .333/.480/.497. One of three host nations along with Austria and Slovakia, the Czechs led in most categories and featured the tournament’s best hitter, Martin Mužík.
There were several surprises on the offensive front, mostly notably Ukraine, which finished third in most statistical categories. The Blue-and-Yellow hitters tallied a .305/.431/.450 line, leading in triples (6), and finished second in walk-to-strikeout ratio (1.5), ahead of all but the Netherlands (1.7). Poland also showcased a solid approach at the plate, finishing at .281/.387/.355, though those numbers were buoyed somewhat by Georgian pitching.
With 16 teams and a number of players that suit up for their countries’ senior national team and its U23 squad, scouts were in attendance for the tournament. Multiple MLB teams represented as part of their standard circuit, and several players took a significant step forward at the Euros. Tomorrow, in our final review of the tournament, we examine those players regarded as prospects, as well as the players who already have professional experience.
Other editions of the U23 Euros review include:
Upsets and Standings (link)
The Best Games of the Tournament (link)
Outstanding Hitting Performances (link)
The Top Pitching Performances (link)
Flashing Leather and Swiping Bags (link)
Pros and Prospects (Tuesday)