The greatest lineups … ever? Here’s how WBC offenses stack up with MLB’s best
When the 2023 World Baseball Classic rosters were announced last month, our imaginations were captured by some supposed rosters that looked absolutely stacked. While it will be decades before we know how many Hall of Famers will be in the tournament starting next week, we know there will be many.
The level of talent in this tournament, especially among the top few teams, is unprecedented.
Even if you go back to the summer of 1933, when the Sporting News named baseball’s first official All-Star Game the “Game of the Century.” Just imagine one legend after another walking around the Comiskey Park plate to try their luck against Lefty Grove or Karl Hubbell, stars like Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons, Frankie Frisch and Bill Terry.
Now imagine if it was a tournament instead of just one game that featured all these great players plus Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, Cool Daddy Bell and Hall of Famer Turkey Stearns who were in the first Negro All-Star Game. leagues. A game played later that summer, also at Comiskey.
Now imagine if the best players from outside the United States were also in the tournament, such greats as Martin Dihigo and Cristobal Torriente, both from Cuba, and Haruyasu Nakajima, a leading star in Japan’s burgeoning baseball culture.
Now imagine if this tournament was more than just an exhibition.
What you end up with will be very similar to the WBC.
In addition to listing likely starting lineups for this first All-Star Game, The Sporting News also noted each starter’s average performance since the start of the season. Because the American League’s numbers were slightly higher (only .318 to .305), the publication stated that the AL had a “noticeable advantage in hitting ability.”
Well, hey, modern analytics weren’t quite there back then, so TSN may have drawn the right conclusion, its method is not up to 2023 standards. We now have the tools and numbers to dig deeper.
We know that the best WBC rosters are stacked with each other. But how complex are they? Let’s use some of these 21st century tools.