2023 World Baseball Classic: Figuring out Team USA’s best lineups, starting with leadoff hitter Trea Turner

Full rosters for all 20 countries participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. were recently revealedand, as expected, there are many stars in this edition of Team USA:

  • Catchers (3)Cast: JT Realmuto (Phillies), Will Smith (Dodgers), Kyle Higashioka (Yankees)
  • First base (2)People: Pete Alonso (Metz), Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals)
  • Second base (1)Story by: Jeff McNeil (Mets)
  • Third base (1): Nolan Arenado (Cardinals)
  • Short stop (3)Cast: Tim Anderson (White Sox), Tree Turner (Phillies), Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals)
  • Outfielders (5)Cast: Mike Trout (Angels), Mookie Betts (Dodgers), Kyle Schwarber (Phillies), Kyle Tucker (Astros), Cedric Mullins (Orioles).
  • Right-handers (13)Cast: Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), Lance Lynn (White Sox), Jason Adam (Flight), Daniel Bard (Rockies), David Bednar (Pirates), Kendall Graveman (White Sox), Merrill Kelly (Diamondbacks), Nick Martinez (Padres) ), Miles Mykolas (Cardinals), Adam Ottavino (Mets), Ryan Pressly (Astros), Brady Singer (Royals), Devin Williams (Brewers);
  • Lefties (3)Cast: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Nestor Cortez (Yankees), Brooks Reilly (Mets)
  • In previous WBCs, the US didn’t have that many front line players at its disposal, especially in terms of position players. As such, manager Mark DeRosa has some tough decisions to make when it comes to choosing his squad for the tournament, which starts on March 8th. Luckily for the skipper, we’re here with unsolicited advice.

    Before we get started, pay attention to the following principles for building a ruler:

    • A high base percentage is the most important trait for a leading hitter, and speed is good too.
    • Ideally, one of the best hitters on the team will shoot second.
    • Against right-handed starting pitchers, right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters should be staggered whenever possible to make it harder for the opposing bullpen coach to make decisions.
    • Against left-handed starting pitchers, the line-up must be filled with right-handed bats—i.e., non-superstar platoon batsmen, non-stop.

    With that out of the way, let’s do Monsieur DeRosa’s work for him and see what the US squad should look like when it all starts.

    Compared to RHP

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

    Hitting right-handers at bats with left-handed bats is impossible throughout the lineup against right-handers, but Schwarber, Tucker, and McNeil provide balance once you get past that formidable top three. Speaking of which, Betts is ahead of his right-handed counterparts like Goldschmidt and Arenado because he has a more balanced platoon split throughout his career and has been just a tad more effective against one-handed serves than the St. Louis duo. Go ahead…

    Compared to LHP

    1. Trea Turner, 2B
    2. Mike Trout, CF
    3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH
    4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
    5. Muki Betts, RF
    6. Pete Alonso, 1B
    7. Tim Anderson, SS
    8. Will Smith, C
    9. Kyle Tucker, LF

    In the name of putting more platoon bats into the lineup against left-handers, Turner moves to second base, where he has made 79 career starts. This allows Anderson and his right-hander to keep a short distance, while McNeil, who plays left-handed, has to sit on the bench. Alonso’s placement at first base allows Goldschmidt to DH and get a half day when the southpaw is on the mound for the opposition.

    Speaking of resting, Realmuto sits against southpaws and Smith spells it out and along the way, probably provides a modest improvement in offensive positions. If DeRosa feels the need to bring in Realmuto defensively, then he can indulge that instinct thanks to the presence of a third catcher – Higashioka – on the US roster. Tucker has shown some effectiveness against a one-sided submission, albeit in a limited sample, so instead of a right-handed alternative, he keeps his job. When a right-handed pitcher is inevitable, DeRosa can turn to left-handers like Schwarber, McNeil and Mullins for a parry. Witt Jr. is still willing to write to Arenado or Turner when he’s pressed for time, if needed.

    And with that, about half of DeRosa’s work is done. It doesn’t matter if it’s the easy half.


    Back to top button

    Adblock Detected

    Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker