- Bats Right, Throws Right
Kent Karlsson has been one of the top baseball players to come out of Norway in the early 21st Century. He has been primarily a pitcher but has also played some third base.
Karlsson debuted in 1996 with Oslo Alligators. In 1998, he was 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA and hit .214/.250/.286; he was 2 for 18 in the European Cup that year. In '99, Kent was 8-0 with a 4.43 ERA was named the Best Pitcher in the Norwegian League, leading his team to a title. He also hit .311/.475/.575 with 27 runs in 15 games.
Karlsson was 1-2 with a 3.96 ERA for the 2000 Alligators. In '01, he had a 5-3, 3.57 record with 66 strikeouts in 53 innings; he also batted .444/.511/.481 with 13 steals in 15 tries and 26 RBI in 15 games. He was named the Best Batter and Best Defensive Player in Norway. In the European Cup, he was 8 for 14 with five walks and 5 RBI in five games.
The right-hander continued to excel in 2002, producing at a .443/.541/.689 with 24 runs and 24 RBI in 22 games and 12 steals in 13 tries. He was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 52 innings. He was named MVP of the Norwegian League.
In 2003, Karlsson split the year between Norway and Sweden's Elitserien. For Oslo, he was 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA and hit .256/.298/.302. For Sweden's Karlskoga Bats, he had a 1-0, 3.08 record and batted .277/.315/.388. In 2004, he played briefly for Oslo and spent most of the year with Karlskoga, hitting .272/.351/.292 and going 5-6 with a 3.71 ERA. He was 5th in WHIP (1.34) and tied for 6th in wins.
Karlsson batted .244/.412/.306 and had a 4-1, 1.31 record for the 2005 Bats. He led in ERA, by .2 over Magnus Pilegård. Kent was 6-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 2006, walking 17 in 91 innings; he hit .215/.281/.227. He was 7th in ERA and tied for 4th in wins.
Kent's batting line in 2007 was .213/.321/.280; on the mound, his record stood at 11-5, 2.58. He only walked 29 in 122 innings. He led in innings pitched, was second in victories and was second in ERA. The Norwegian joined the Swedish national team for the 2007 European Championship. He tossed two shutout innings against Austria but was rocked in a start against the Dutch national team, surrendering 7 hits in 1 2/3 IP. Opponents went 7 for 12 at the plate, with a 3-run homer by Raily Legito the big blow.
Karlsson had another fine year in 2008, going 10-4 with 18 walks in 102 2/3 IP; his ERA rose to 4.21 and opponents hit .308, though. At the plate, he hit .218/.375/.250. He led the Elitserien in wins and was 6th in ERA.