Bon to the jour, bespectacled readership. I am Carson Cistulli, and this is FranceGraphs.
In our most recent — and, not incidentally, only other — edition of FranceGraphs, we looked at the slight, but significant, differences between the French and American versions of FanGraphs. Today, we cast a gaze at the French baseball league, the Championnat de France de baseball Élite — or what we’ll call the Elite division, for short.
French baseball, as with French (and other European kinds of) soccer, utilizes a promotion/relegation system of which the eight-team Elite division is merely the top. Below this is the 18-team National 1 division and 24-team National 2 division, the latter of which is composed of winners from numerous regional leagues.
Each team in the Elite division plays a 14-weekend, 28-game schedule, allowing every pair of teams to have a two-game series both at home and away.
The top six teams from the regular season compete in the playoffs, with the third seed facing the sixth and fourth facing the fifth. (As with American football, the top two teams automatically qualify for the next round). The winners compete for the title in a best-of-five final. The losers from the first playoff round face the seventh and eighth seeds and, while the exact format from here out is a bit confusing, at least one team appears to get relegated.
It goes without saying, of course, that the most formidable team in recent years has been the Huskies de Rouen, winners of the last six — and seven of the last eight — Elite division championships. On that team, catcher/corner infielder David Gauthier (currently batting .426/.581/.705 in 61 AB for a league in which .269/.369/.361 is average) has been the leader for the last five or so years. You can soak in the majesty that is Gauthier’s stat line at the Rouen site and read more about him, amazingly, at the B-R Bullpen.
Alternatively, you can just stare all day and night at his squat manbody:
Most, if not all, of the information here is stolen from this and similar French Wikipedia entries — which, in case you didn’t know, French Wikipedia is sort of like American Wikipedia, except more rude.