World Baseball Classic power rankings: Team USA goes for back-to-back; Dominican Republic should be dominant

The 2023 Baseball World Cup is due to start very late on Tuesday, March 7 (timetable here!). If it feels like some time has passed, well, it has. The last time the WBC was held was in 2017. Remember Marcus Stroman playing for Team USA at Dodger Stadium in the championship game against Puerto Rico? Yes, it was the last WBC game. We don’t need to rephrase why the planned 2021 WBC didn’t happen. We are all already well aware.

The good news is that this event is near. It’s not for everyone, but it’s generally a very fun event that features Major League Baseball players with some other very strong international leagues (NPB, KBO) as well as the chance to see some minor league players and even unknown international players. players.

Pool play begins before eight teams advance to the quarter-finals. If you’re looking for drama in a game of pool, check out Group D. In the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, it has three of the top five teams, while Israel can handle disappointment.

Speaking of the “top five” teams, why don’t we take all 20 places in the tournament? Go.

20. China
19. Czech Republic
18. Australia
17. Nicaragua
16. UK
15. Italy
14. Panama
13. Colombia
12. Israel
11. Chinese Taipei

10 Canada

Freddie Freeman is a great place to start and Tyler O’Neal is a quality player. In addition, we consider names such as Abraham Toro, Owen Casey and Bo Naylor on the side of the position player. Pitching is led by Cal Quantrill, Nick Pivetta and Matt Brush.

9. Cuba

White Sox players Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada are the most active players on this team, and Yoenis Cespedes is also a thrilling reminder of what once was. Catcher Ariel Martinez Marrero is recognizable as he has spent the last three seasons in the Japanese NPB. There is talent here, but the island nation has also seen a decline in recent years. Speaking of which, Cuba came in second in 2006 but hasn’t made the top four since.

8. Kingdom of the Netherlands

Remember that this team includes players from the Dutch Caribbean islands such as Curaçao and Aruba. This helps complete the team with MLB talents like Xander Bogaerts, Didi Gregorius, Eurixon Profar, Jonathan Shoop and Andrelton Simmons. Former MLB player Vladimir Balentien returned with a WBC batting average of .469. Kenley Jansen will miss the pool game, but if they go further, he could be added to the bullpen with Pedro Strop.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands finished fourth in each of the last two iterations of this tournament.

7. Korea

The biggest non-MLB name is here… which will change soon – 2022 KBO MVP Jung-Hoo Lee hitting .349/.421/.575 with 36 doubles, 10 triples, 23 homers and 113 RBIs in his 142 games. Ha-Sung Kim and Tommy Edman are the most famous MLB players here. There is also a strong serving staff who are said to be a bit heavy-handed which is never a bad thing.

Korea ranked second in 2009 and third in 2006.

6. Mexico

This is the best lineup for Mexico in the tournament. The offense is led by the likes of Alejandro Kirk, Alex Verdugo, Randy Arozarena, Rowdy Tellez and Joey Menezes. The pitching team includes Julio Urias, José Urquidi, Taihuang Walker and Patrick Sandoval. They will be good enough at billiards to get ahead of the US, leaving behind Canada, Colombia and the UK.

Mexico has never finished in the top four.

5. Puerto Rico

Manager Yadier Molina boasts of his cute combination of Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor. Molina is not a player-manager, but he has good defensive skills behind Martin Maldonado with capable understudies M.J. Melendez and Christian Vasquez. Other position players include Enrique Hernandez, José Miranda and Eddie Rosario.

An interesting point here is Markus Stroman, who leads the pitching team. He won the 2017 WBC World Championship MVP with Team USA, throwing six scoreless innings in the championship against Puerto Rico. His mother is Puerto Rican and is now represented by Stroman. Will Jose Berrios be able to return in 2023 after a bad 2022? He may start with the WBC for Puerto Rico.

It should also be noted that PR taking the lead in the eighth inning should mean a victory with expectation for the Diaz brothers. Most likely, Alexis Diaz is adjusting to his brother Edwin Diaz.

Puerto Rico has never won the WBC and has been runner-up in the last two tournaments. The bridesmaid is gone, right?

4. Venezuela

There’s a stash of big-name MLB talent here. José Altuve, Ronald Acuna, José Abreu, Andrés Jiménez, Gleyber Torres, Luis Arraez, Salvador Perez, Eugenio Suarez and Anthony Santander are probably in the top nine hitters, but the depth is beyond what it is).

The starting rotation could include Pablo Lopez, Jesus Lusardo, Martin Pérez and Herman Marquez, while Ranger Suarez is a good option to maybe get out of the bullpen for a few innings or start if needed. Speaking of Suarez, Phillies teammate José Alvarado offers a quality late-pitch option.

Venezuela has a rich history of baseball talent, but overall this tournament was a big disappointment. Only once (2009) did he hit the top four.

3. USA

A strike on the US will be the starting rotation. Looks like it will be some combination of Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mykolas, Kyle Freeland and Brady Singer. They could also mix Nick Martinez and Merrill Kelly. However, the back of the bullpen will be solid and players like Ryan Pressly, Devin Williams and Kendall Graveman will be able to block the situation.

However, crime is key. JT Realmuto and Will Smith are the top two catchers. Some of the other big names are: Pete Alonso, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, Kyle Tucker, Kyle Schwarber and, oh, this dude named Mike Trout.

The USA is the reigning champion here and the plan is to be the second multiple champion.

2. Japan

Yu Darvish and Shohei Otani have cemented a loaded line-up of pitchers, but there’s also Yoshinobu Yamamoto (1.68 ERA, .93 NRIP and 205 strikeouts in 193 innings NPB last season) and Rocky Sasaki (2.02 ERA, .80 ELF and 173 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings). ).

On offense, the person to know is Munetaka Murakami. He was NPB MVP last season, hitting .318/.458/.711 with 56 homers and 134 RBIs in 141 games. And obviously Otani also has a huge impact on the bat. They are joined by recent Red Sox player Masataka Yoshida, though unfortunately Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki has oblique injury and had to quit. Sticking with NL Central, the team includes Cardinals slugger Lars Knutbar. Another name to keep an eye on is Kazuma Okamoto. He is only 26 years old, but he has already spent five seasons in a row with 30 homers.

Japan also has great team speed and quality defensive catchers to handle the loaded spin. The kickoff will not be as effective in a pool game, but once we get to the end of the tournament they can start working out 5-6 innings and Japan has the best rotation in the tournament. This is a very strong pick to win everything.

Japan is the only country to have won two WBC victories since they took the first two (2006 and 2009). It is also the only country to have finished in the top four all four times as it finished third in the 2013 and 2017 tournaments.

1. Dominican Republic

From top to bottom, they are fully loaded. NL winner Sai Young Sandy Alcantara and Astros front rower Christian Javier will lead the rotation, which could also include cunning veteran Johnny Cueto and star prospect Roanci Contreras. The bullpen has power hands like Camilo Doval and Rafael Montero, as well as a lot of depth. The starting lineup is ridiculous. Julio Rodriguez, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Rafael Devers, Vander Franco, Jeremy Peña and so on (in fact, they also have Ketel Marte, Willie Adams, Theoscar Hernandez and others). Loss of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. definitely hurtbut there’s a lot of top-level depth here to make up for it.

This team is loaded and enters the tournament as a favorite. A win would see the Dominican Republic equal Japan with two WBC titles, as DR previously won in 2013.


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