Sep. 26, 2016
Will the U.S. win the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is a relatively new event for baseball that was started in 2006. Three events have been held (2006, 2009, and 2013) and have had mild success. It is modeled after the FIFA World Cup where 16 teams get placed in four groups. Each team plays one another and the best two teams come out of each group.
The United States has never won the WBC and, in fact, the best finish they had was fourth, in 2009. This year, the U.S. has a stacked roster, which is managed by former MLB manager Jim Leyland. With all the talent, can they finally win it all?
The U.S. is in Group C with Canada, Columbia, and the favorite and defending champion, the Dominican Republic. Canada and Columbia should be easy wins but the U.S.-Dominican Republic game will be one for the ages. Nevertheless, both teams should come out of Group C.
Last week, a fellow writer, Joel, predicted the lineup for the U.S. team. The roster has a combination of speed, power, and defensive excellence. There is just about everything in their for a dream roster. They even have a deep bench with players like Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Carpenter, and Eric Hosmer. Then another advantage the U.S. has is a stacked bullpen with players like Andrew Miller, David Robertson, and Tyler Clippard. The 2016 MLB playoffs showed that the bullpen is the key to winning in when it counts. After the round robin, the WBC becomes single elimination, and being able to generate matchups with your bullpen will be a huge advantage for the U.S.
If the Americans gets out of the first stage, they will face teams like Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands. Puerto Rico knocked the U.S. off in 2013, Japan won the WBC in 2006 and 2009, South Korea has some of the best hitters in the KBO, the Netherlands has a lot of talent in their Caribbean Islands, and Venezuela is an underdog to watch. The message is it is not going to be easy for the U.S. but it is doable.
The biggest thing for the U.S. to overcome is themselves. There are so many stars on the roster that some personalities might bump heads. Also, the U.S. has not been successful in the tournament, and they will have to wipe away some of the bad luck from past years.
When the final game is played, it will be the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. The two teams are far and above any other team in the tournament. The talent on both teams is just too high for either one of these teams to struggle.
Talent plays a big role in any sport. However, as any good baseball fan knows, that in one game anything can happen. That is why the worst teams in MLB at least will win 35% of the games, even against good teams. It is just so hard to predict baseball. Who thought the Indians would make it to the World Series in 2016? Therefore, is it certain that the U.S. will medal or come in first? No; however, it is pretty likely that they do well in the tournament.