World Baseball Classic Preview: Pools A and D
The 2017 edition of the World Baseball Classic is quickly approaching. All sixteen teams have already begun preparation, with Major League players slated to play in the WBC ramping up their workloads in camp in order to get ready. Last week, we took a look at Pools B and C which featured powerhouses such as the United States, Dominican Republic, and Japan. This week, we’ll examine Pools A and D, which include interesting rosters such as Korea, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
Pool A: Seoul, Gocheok Sky Dome
vs. Israel on Monday, March 6th
vs. Korea on Tuesday, March 7th
vs. Chinese Taipei on Thursday, March 9th
Seung Hwan Oh, Dae-Ho Lee, Ah-seop Son
Though Korea usually has several Major League players on their WBC rosters, this year’s team only has one in Oh, a right handed reliever for the Cardinals. Lee spent time with the Mariners during the 2016 season, but has since struggled to garner interest from big league clubs. Korea is likely the second best team in Pool A and aims to advance to the knockout rounds with a solid core of pitching talent.
vs. Israel on Tuesday, March 7th
vs. Netherlands on Wednesday, March 8th
vs. Korea on Thursday, March 9th
Wei-Chung Wang, Chien-Mien Wang, Ping-Hsueh Chen
Chinese Taipei will rely heavily on its pitching staff in order to make it through the round robin phase of the tournament. The team is carrying 21 pitchers into the WBC and will need their arms to step up if they are to succeed. Wang provides a familiar face to most MLB fans because of the time he spent with the New York Yankees.
vs. Korea on Tuesday, March 7th
vs. Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, March 8th
vs. Israel on Thursday, March 9th
Xander Bogaerts, Didi Gregorius, Kenley Jansen
The Netherlands is clearly the class of Pool A with a roster stacked with talented Major League talent. Bogaerts, Gregorius, Jonathan Schoop, Andrelton Simmons, and Jurickson Profar give the Netherlands a bevy of infield talent. This infield talent should be enough to propel the team to the knockout rounds. Jansen is arguably the best reliever in the tournament and will lock down the 9th inning for the Dutch national team.
vs. Korea on Monday, March 6th
vs. Chinese Taipei on Tuesday, March 7th
vs. Netherlands on Thursday, March 9th
Sam Fuld, Craig Breslow, Scott Feldman
Team Israel is bringing a Mensch on the Bench (no, really) with them to leave in the dugout during games. Though this may bring good luck, Israel does not need it to advance into the knockout rounds. Israel is carrying a squad full of former Major League players such as Fuld, Breslow, Jason Marquis, and Ike Davis. In a weak Pool, it’s entirely possible to see Israel winning 2 of their 3 round robin games.
Pool D: Jalisco, Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco
vs. Italy on Thursday, March 9th
vs. Puerto Rico on Saturday, March 11th
vs. Venezuela on Sunday, March 12th
Adrian Gonzalez, Julio Urias, Khris Davis
Mexico’s roster has star power. The team carries a pair of Dodgers, Gonzalez and Urias, who will give the team a strong presence both at the plate and on the mound. Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia, and Roberto Osuna add to the team’s pitching depth, making the Mexicans a real threat to advance to the tournament’s semi-finals.
vs. Venezuela on Friday, March 10th
vs. Mexico on Saturday, March 11th
v. Italy on Sunday, March 12th
Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran
Puerto Rico has a legitimate chance to win the entire tournament. Their offense is lethal- the infield is led by Lindor, Correa, and Javy Baez while the outfield will be held down by Beltran, Enrique Hernandez, Angel Pagan, and Eddie Rosario. If Puerto Rico can out-slug their way past teams, they are entirely capable of defeating the United States and Dominican Republic.
vs. Puerto Rico on Friday, March 10th
vs. Italy on Saturday, March 11th
vs. Mexico on Sunday, March 12th
Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Rougned Odor
Like Puerto Rico, Venezuela should beat down on Mexico and Italy on their way to the knockout rounds. Altuve, Cabrera, Odor, and Victor Martinez will lead an offensive charge capable of producing offensive fireworks.
vs. Mexico on Thursday, March 9th
vs. Venezuela on Saturday, March 11th
vs. Puerto Rico on Sunday, March 12th
Francisco Cervelli, Michael Conforto, Chris Colabello
The Italian team was a welcomed surprise in the 2013 WBC, but is unlikely to compete with Puerto Rico and Venezuela in this year’s tournament. There are several Major League players on the roster, but they are not on the same tier as the talent on the other clubs.