World Baseball Classic

It’s hard to believe but baseball’s regular season is
right around the corner. Major League teams are already playing spring training
games as they prepare for the upcoming season. However, spring training baseball
isn’t the only baseball that is being played right now. There are 16 countries
from all over the world that are getting ready to take place in the 2013 World
Baseball Classic. The nations competing are broken down into four pools. Pool A:
China, Cuba, Japan, and Brazil. Brazil will be making their first appearance in
the tournament and are managed by Hall of Famer and former Cincinnati Reds
shortstop Barry Larkin.

Pool B: Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea, and

Pool C: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Venezuela.

D: United States, Mexico, Italy, and Canada. Rosters are filled with talented
players from baseball leagues all around the world, not just Major League
Baseball (MLB).

There will be 45 Major League All-Stars taking place in this
years tournament. Some of the more recognizable names include last season’s
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela) and former Most Valuable Players
Ryan Braun, Jimmy Rollins, and Joe Mauer from the United States, and Joey Votto
and Justin Morneau from Canada. These are just a few of the names that provide
the star power in what should be an exciting tournament. While I think there are
many talented teams in this tournament, I’d like to give you my opinion on the
top 3 nations that I think have the best chance to be crowned champions. Japan:
Japan has to be included in this list. Japan is the only country having won this
tournament as they are the two time defending champions.

Eight players are
returning from last year’s championship team. The roster is made up of many
talented players that have not made the jump to MLB. Just because they do not
have MLB All-Stars that does not mean they will not be a threat to win their
third straight championship. They have a very good pitching staff lead by
Toshiya Sugiuchi, Masahiro Tanaka, and Kenta Maeda. Offensively they are lead by
catcher Shinnosuke Abe. Abe is a legitimate power threat each time he steps to
the plate. Overall, this is a well-balanced team with pitching, power, and
speed. They are certainly a threat to three-peat. Dominican Republic: Take a
look at this roster and you will see that it is loaded. Hanley Ramirez, Jose
Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, and Robinson Cano are part of a roster that feature
power and speed. If this lineup gets hot then there could be no stopping this
team. However, the main issue is this lineup may have to get hot in order for
them to win the tournament. They will have to out slug teams because their
pitching staff is not quite on par with their offense. The staff is lead by
Edinson Volquez and Wandy Rodriguez. Both are solid pitchers but there is not
much after those two.

United States: This is probably the most complete lineup
the United States has ever sent to the tournament. Offensively they should have
no problem scoring runs with a roster made up of Ryan Braun, Adam Jones,
Giancarlo Stanton, David Wright, and Joe Mauer. The pitching staff is made up of
a strong rotation that includes last year’s Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
Gio Gonzalez is another ace that provides the Americans with a strong arm. The
two previous tournaments have ended in disappointment for the United States as
they have yet to finish in the top three. With that in the back of their minds,
I expect a very strong showing this year. Be sure to tune in to what should be a
very good and entertaining tournament. The action starts on March 2nd. It is
good to see competitive baseball being played in the spring.

Written by Chase Diamond of

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