The 2023 World Baseball Classic will feature 20 teams, divided into four pools of five teams each. The pools and their respective locations are as follows:
Pool A (Taipei): Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, Cuba, Italy Panama
Pool B (Tokyo): Japan, Korea, Australia, China, Czech Republic
Pool C (Phoenix): USA, Mexico, Columbia, Canada, Great Britain
Pool D (Miami): Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Israel, Nicaragua
Each pool will play round-robin games at their respective locations. In round one, the teams will be ranking according to the percent of games won. The two teams with the highest percentage in each pool will advance to the Quarterfinal. Then it’s win and survive.
In terms of potential contenders, there are several teams that could make a run for the title in 2023.
USA: The reigning champions will be looking to defend their title with a talented roster that includes players like Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, and Mike Trout. Look for JT Realmuto and Will Smith to catch a strong pitching staff including veteran Adam Wainwright, Devin Williams, and Nick Martinez. Not to mention, USA will be led by a legendary coaching staff including Mark DeRosa (Manager), Ken Griffey Jr and Andy Pettitte.
Cuba: Cuba has a long history of producing talented baseball players, and their roster for the 2023 World Baseball Classic is no exception. Yoenis Cespedes, who played for the Cuban national team before defecting to the United States, is the so-called “veteran” of the team. The roster also includes a mix of up-and-coming players including stars Luis Robert and Yoán Moncada.
Japan: As the two-time champions of the World Baseball Classic, Japan is always a team to watch in international competition. The Japanese roster for 2023 is loaded with talent from both the MLB and the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball), including two-way star and former MVP, Shohei Ohtani. They also have reigning MVP of the NPB, Munetaka Murakami, who swings from the left side and hits Jax. Other notable players include pitchers Yu Darvish and Yoshinobu Yamaoto (back to back winner of NPB Cy Young award), outfielder Seiya Suzuki, and infielder Kazuma Okamoto.
Mexico: Mexico has emerged as a rising power in international baseball in recent years, and their roster for the 2023 World Baseball Classic reflects their growing talent. The team is led by veteran pitcher Julio Urias, who has enjoyed a successful career in the MLB with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is joined by one of his battery mates, catcher Austin Barnes. Jose Urquidy and Taijuan Walker will round out a strong staff. Athleticism will be a key feature of this Mexico team, led by the likes of Randy Arozarena, Luis Urias and Alex Verdugo.
Canada: The team is led by perhaps the best hitter in baseball, Freddie Freeman. While pitching depth will likely cause troubles, Cal Quantrill of the Guardians will likely lead the staff. One of the most electric outfielders, Tyler O’Neill, is the other most notable name for Team Canada.
Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico has enjoyed success in previous editions of the WBC, finishing as the runners-up in 2013 and 2017. It should be noted, we sadly won’t see Yadier Molina, who competed in each of the first four World Baseball Classic. The 2023 Puerto Rican roster features an elite SS/2B combo, Fancisco Lindor and Javi Báez, in addition to utility guy Kikí Hernández. Eddie Rosario is the most notable name in the outfield (Kiké will likely end up out there). Martín Maldonado will catch the reigning MVP winner of the WBC, Marcus Stroman. Creating a dynamic 1-2 combo at the front of the rotation (behind Stroman, I think?) will be José Berríos. If the game gets to the 9th and Puerto Rico is up, forget about it, cause Edwin Díaz is their closer.
Dominican Republic: What would a World Baseball Classic be without the Dominican Republic? Superstar names will fill out the lineup card, all the way down to Manager Nelson Cruz. Sandy Alacantara, reigning Cy Young winner, will surely be their ace but Astros Christian Javier and Luis Garcia round out an electric staff. Manny Machado, Rafael Devers, Willy Adames, Wander Franco and Vladimir Guerrero Jr make for perhaps the scariest infield in history of existence. Don’t forget that an opposing pitcher is also going to have to face outfielders Juan Soto and Julio Rodriguez.
We’ll let you decide which roster has enough talent to win the whole thing. Go buy Jax Batting Gloves.