2023 World Baseball Classic: 5 things to know about Team USA, from a Mike Trout-led offense to the competition

The 2023 Baseball World Cup has already begun, and Team USA will play their first official game of the tournament on Saturday night – a clash with underdogs Great Britain. So, to put baseball enthusiasts in general, and US fans in particular, in the right mood, we’re here for a quick walking tour of this edition of Team USA. We will operate in a timeless “things to know” environment in which we designate many things—things related to the topic under discussion—as worthy of study.

Plus, here’s the full WBC schedule, as well as everything you need to know about this year’s event. Now let’s talk about the US team.

1. The US team is the reigning WBC world champion.

Thanks in large part to the pandemic, the 2023 edition was the WBC’s first in six years. A long time ago, in 2017, the US captured its first WBC title by defeating Japan 2-1 in the semi-finals and an 8-0 win over Puerto Rico in the final. This was the first time in the relatively short history of the WBC that a US team had been able to win it:


WBC Champion


United States


Dominican Republic





It should be noted that 2017 USA Championship Run MVP Markus Stroman is back in the WBC this time around, but he is not in contention for the USA. In gratitude and honor to his mother’s Puerto Rican roots, he will lead the rotation. for the team of Yadier Molina from Puerto Rico.

2. USA should be considered favorites in the first round

What about the chances of a repeat in the US? This is expected to be helped by the fact that the US in the first round of the round robin will be part of winning Group C. The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals, and in the case of the US they will compete against Mexico, Canada, Colombia and the UK to to claim one of those two Group C spots. According to Matt Snyder’s pre-tournament WBC strength rankings, Team USA should be the pool favorite on paper. They finished in third place, with Mexico and Canada finishing in 6th and 10th respectively. Saturday’s opponent for the US, Great Britain, is in 16th place out of 20 teams. Compare that to the full gauntlet, which is Group D – No. 1 Dominican Republic, No. 4 Venezuela, and No. 5 Puerto Rico all call it home in the first round.

After playing pool, the WBC becomes essentially an eight-team knockout tournament, and in a sport like baseball, chaos reigns in this format. However, Team USA should be a part of it.

3. The American roster consists of All-Stars.

Does the 2023 WBC team have the best collection of hitters in Team USA history? You can make a convincing argument that this is so. Consider the composition that manager Mark DeRosa can put up against a right hand serve:

  1. Treya Turner, SS
  2. Muki Betts, RF
  3. Mike Trout, CF
  4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  5. Kyle Schwarber, DH
  6. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  7. Kyle Tucker, LF
  8. Jeff McNeil, 2B
  9. JT Realmuto, C

As for other options, including potential platoon partners, the US roster also includes such formidable players as Pete Alonso, Cedric Mullins, Will Smith, Tim Anderson and Bobby Witt Jr. It’s also possible that the Betts will see time at second base, giving DeRosa even more roster flexibility. Shuffle it around as you see fit – the fact of the matter is that this is a powerful lineup no matter how you structure it. Speaking of which, here’s DeRosa’s real-life roster at a recent game against the Giants:

If the US defends the belt and title, the attack will likely take them there.

4. Rotation is a big question

And now for the disappointment. Finding starting pitchers ready to give it their all in the WBC when the calendar says they still have to pick up is always a challenge, regardless of the rules of use. The range of snacks in the US this time speaks to that reality. Right now Lance Lynn of the White Sox, Miles Mykolas of the Cardinals, teammate Adam Wainwright, Nick Martinez of the Padres, Kyle Freeland of the Rockies, Merrill Kelly of the Diamondbacks and Brady Singer of the Royals ” make up DeRosa’s rotation options. Granted, it’s hardly an embarrassing crop, but it falls far short of the stellar power to be found in the lineup. Also, one of those pitchers, Wainwright, is 41 years old and has been struggling with a loss of momentum this spring.

In addition to the Stroman situation noted above, the US also planned to have Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Nestor Cortez of the Yankees on the roster, but health problems arose along the way. Also, Giants ace Logan Webb was willing to take part, but ended up not being on the list. Maybe none of this matters much in a pool game, but maybe when the US faces a thunderous lineup like the Dominican Republic in the future.

5. The bullpen can make up for the slack

All of which suggests that the American bullpen may just be for American starting pitchers with nowhere to go. Given the high leverage, modern management strategy and restrictions placed on rookies, pitchers play a very important role in the WBC. Fortunately for the US, they should be well equipped on this front.

Leading the U.S. Relief Squad will, in no particular order, be Brewers Devin Williams, Mets Adam Ottavino, Astros Ryan Pressley, Rays Jason Adam, Pirates David Bednar, Rays Brooks Reilly and White Sox Kendall Graveman (as well as one or two unused starting players to be named). That octet in 2022 combined gives an ERA of 2.32 with 580 strikeouts in 468 2/3 innings and a strikeouts to unintentional walks ratio of 3.92. Combined, this is elite flight prevention, a lot of missed bats and dominance at the command-administrative level. There isn’t a lot of depth on the left side, but overall it’s a dominant collection of pitchers. This is exactly what they need, given the suspicious rotation.


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