On March 6, the WBC 2017 will take off in Seoul, Tokyo, Miami and Jalisco. Sportscave.net will start its covering of the tournament by making a bold prediction and breaking down each team’s strength and weakness.
The World Baseball Classic is still looking for the stature it deserves. A worldwide event carrying star players from many different countries should have the potential to become as popular and important as the Rugby World Cup did since its inaugural tournament in 1987. Hopefully MLB and the WBSC will have the patience to keep the WBC alive while they take care of its branding and growth.
SportsCave.net predicts a win for Team USA over Dominican Republic in the Championship Game. A win that will definitely help the WBC to become more popular in the United States. More attendance and TV coverage will take the Classic to higher ground.
FIRST ROUND OVERVIEW
Chinese Taipei had some issues recruiting their team because some of the CPBL teams didn’t want their players to play. The team doesn’t seem to standout in defense, offense or pitching and need to rely on team synergy and solid performance without spectacular highlights.
Israel’s team will be carried by Scott Feldman, Craig Breslow, Sam Fuld, Ike Davis and Ryan Lavarnway. They also will feature former major leaguer Jason Marquis. Team Israel is not loaded with talent like other rosters, but since qualifying for the tournament they have been an intriguing team to keep an eye on.
Like Chinese Taipei, the lack of real star players won’t make it easy for Korea to survive the first round. Home advantage and players from the pretty high level KBO League, should be enough to get a ticket for Tokyo.
The Netherlands will bring some very big names to Seoul and their star stacked defense has above average offense which make them an outsider for the Championship title. If their pitching staff manages to stay afloat, the Dutch will be a hard nut to crack. Notable players: Xander Bogaerts, Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Schoop, Didi Gregorius and Jurickson Profar. For good measure, they even have former major leaguers Jair Jurrjens and Rick van den Hurk who’s currently very succesful with the Softbank Hawks.
Our prediction for POOL A:
1. Netherlands 2. Korea 3. Chinese Taipei 4. Israel
Japan will have no problem surviving the first round. Even without Yu Darvish, Ichiro Suzuki or Shohei Otani, they will win the first stage of the WBC 2017 on cruise control. With 2 WBC titles in 2006 and 2009 and a 3rd place in 2013, they showed their talent to win decision games in tournaments. Japan will reach the final 4 without a doubt.
We don’t expect China to have big impact in global baseball in the near term, but that will probably change when a Chinese player reaches the Big Leagues. Chinese Basketball started to take of when Yoa Ming became a NBA All Star, so we expect to see that happen with baseball as well. In our view Australia may surprise this year. Its top league ABL, just finished the season so players are ready to go. Australia has Grant Balfour, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Luke Hughes and Liam Hendriks. With China being the underdog in POOL B, Cuba will be the team to beat for Australia. Cuba won’t bring Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig and Yasmany Tomas and despite their history as a baseball power house, they look vulnerable.
We would like to give Colombia and Canada a chance to survive POOL C, but it’s just not going to happen. Both teams carry some big names but like Freddie Freeman, Justin Morneau, and John Axford for Canada who also have two retired pitchers that come to many baseball fans’ memories, Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne. Colombia will bring pitchers Jose Quintana and Julio Teheran, but with pitch count limits it’s not likely they can stop the brutal lineups of the United States and Dominican Republic.
The United States squad looks really unbeatable, with Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton and Adam Jones, to name a few, we just don’t see which pitching staff is able to stop them from winning their first WBC Championship.
2013 Champions Dominican Republic, will probably become the US’ biggest contender. Their roster includes 2013 World Baseball Classic MVP Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Johnny Cueto and Dellin Betances. A very exciting lineup, but probably not enough to win a consecutive title.
Team Italy is the weakest squad. Francisco Cervelli, Drew Butera and switch-throwing pitcher Pat Venditte, can’t compensate the lack of depth in their lineup. Mexico will bring Adrian Gonzalez, Jorge De La Rosa and Yovani Gallardo. If that’s enough to survive the first round has to be seen. Puerto Rico will be the team to beat for the Mexicans.
Puerto Rico is represented by Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina. Good pitching beats good hitting (most of the time) but pitch count limits may result in surprises. Venezuela looks like the strongest team in POOL D, Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez and Salvador Perez should be able to carry their team to the second round.
Our prediction for POOL D:
1. Venezuela 2. Puerto Rico 3. Mexico 4. Italy
SECOND ROUND PREDICTION
1. Japan 2. Netherlands 3. Korea 4. Australia
1. United States 2. Dominican Republic 3. Venezuela 4. Puerto Rico
CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND PREDICTION
1. United States 2. Dominican Republic 3. Japan 4. Netherlands