World Baseball Classic Preview: Pools B and C
Rosters for the 2017 edition of the World Baseball Classic have officially been released, giving us a glimpse into what to expect for baseball’s version of the World Cup. With the tournament set to kick off on March 7th, many teams are stacked with Major League talent. This is part one of a two part preview- today, we’ll take a look at pools B and C, which feature powerhouses such as the United States, Dominican Republic, and Japan.
Pool B: Tokyo, Tokyo Dome
vs. Cuba on Tuesday, March 7th
vs. Australia on Wednesday, March 8th
vs. China on Friday, March 10th
Norichika Aoki, Tomoyuki Sugano, Shintaro Fujinami
The baseball world was eager to watch pitching and hitting sensation Shohei Ohtani on this type of stage, but a right ankle injury forced the phenom to withdraw from the tournament. Ohtani is arguably the best Japanese prospect since Ichiro. Though Aoki is the only current Major League player on the Japan roster, this team is still fully capable of making a deep run into the tournament. Japan’s professional league is the world’s best competition outside of the United States, and in turn, their players should be fully prepared for the WBC.
Tuesday, March 7th vs Japan
Wednesday, March 8th vs China
Friday, March 10th vs Australia
Yoelkis Cespedes, Alfredo Despaigne, Victor Mesa
Never without intrigue, the Cuban roster comes with a hefty serving of mystery. Cespedes, the younger brother of Yoenis, will be a key player for Cuba and looks to flash his perceived five tool talent to Major League scouts. Despaigne and Mesa will round out the outfield in what appears to be a Cuban team filled with offensive firepower.
Tuesday, March 7th vs Cuba
Thursday, March 9th vs Australia
Friday, March 10th vs Japan
Bruce Chen, Xu Guiyan, Fujia Chu
This is not a team expected to compete for the WBC crown. The only player on the roster with any Major League experience is Chen, who is currently working in the Cleveland Indians front office. Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals received consideration for the Chinese roster but opted to focus on preparing for the Major League season.
Wednesday, March 8th vs Japan
Thursday, March 9th vs China
Friday, March 10th vs Australia
Liam Hendriks, Peter Moylan, Ryan Rowland-Smith
With Japan and Cuba clearly leading the pack in Pool B, Australia will likely join China at the bottom of the group. Unlike China, however, Australia’s roster has Major League experience. Australia currently carries eleven pitchers that are on Major League rosters.
Pool C: Miami, Marlins Park
United States of America-
Friday, March 10th vs Colombia
Saturday, March 11th vs Dominican Republic
Sunday, March 12th vs Canada
Chris Archer, Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey
This is the most talented roster the United States has ever fielded in the WBC. Especially, in comparison to the rest of the nations in the tournament, there are seemingly no holes on this team. The majority of the roster boasts All-Star experience, from pitchers such as Archer and Michael Fulmer, to position players such as Posey, Nolan Arenado, and Giancarlo Stanton. Oddsmakers currently give the United States a 5/2 chance to win the title.
Thursday, March 9th vs Canada
Saturday, March 11th vs United States
Sunday, March 12 vs Colombia
Robinson Cano, Machado, Nelson Cruz
The Dominican is the only team that is arguably better than the United States. They have just as much All-Star talent and feature a dominant set of pitcher behind Johnny Cueto, Carlos Martinez, and Dellin Betances. The winners of the 2013 WBC, the Dominican Republic is set for a fierce run at another championship. Their game against the United States on Saturday, March 11th in Miami will give us an early read into who may prevail in the knockout rounds.
Thursday, March 9th vs Dominican Republic
Saturday, March 11th vs Colombia
Sunday, March 12th vs United States
Freddie Freeman, John Axford, Ryan Dempster
Canada is an unlikely team to emerge from Pool C, but with a core of Major League players, will not go down easily. Freeman and former Minnesota Twin Justin Morneau highlight the team’s position players and Dempster and Axford will provide solid pitching. Canada will need to upset either the United States or Dominican Republic in order to advance to the knockout round.
Friday, March 10th vs United States
Saturday, March 11th vs Canada
Sunday, March 12th vs Dominican Republic
Jose Quintana, Julio Teheran, Dilson Herrera
Colombia’s strength is clearly their starting pitching. They will lean on Quintana and Teheran to steal a game from one of Pool D’s top two teams in order to make their way past the first round of play. This 1-2 punch could be the reason Colombia finds themselves as one of the final eight teams in the tournament.