The World Baseball Classic is back, and you should be watching! It has been more than 5 months since we have been able to watch any meaningful baseball here in Kansas City, so we shouldn't need too much more of a reason than that to tune in. But just in case, here are some things for Kansas Citians to pay attention to.
Royals fans have LOTS of reasons to watch this go around. Eleven Royals are currently on WBC rosters for 7 different Countries. Of those 11 players, Six are from the big club:
Salvy Perez- Venezula
Joakim Soria- Mexico
Drew Butera- Italy
The Royals also have five farm hands taking up bats for their home Countries:
Gabe Camer- Israel
Allan De San Miguel-Australia
Some other players of note for fans in the area.
Former Mizzou star Ian Kinsler will be player for the USA.
Former Royals outfield Nori Aoki is playing for team Japan
Former Royal Bruce Chen is playing for team China
Former Royals Pitcher Jorge De La Rosa is playing for Team Mexico
Former Royal Carlos Beltran is playing for team Puerto Rico
Former Royals pitcher Franklin Morales is playing for team Venezuela
And probably the coolest thing as far as I am concerned is Former Rockhurst University Shortstop Ray Chang will play again for team China. Ray has played in the previous three WBC's for China highlighted by a Homer in the Tokyo Dome in 2009. This homer propelled team China to it's first ever win in the WBC final round against Chinese Taipei
Who is playing?
Who is on Team USA?
- Chris Archer, P, Rays
- Nolan Arenado, INF, Rockies
- Alex Bregman, INF, Astros
- Matt Carpenter, INF, Cardinals
- Brandon Crawford, INF, Giants
- Danny Duffy, P, Royals
- Sam Dyson, P, Rangers
- Mychal Givens, P, Orioles
- Paul Goldschmidt, INF, Diamondbacks
- Sonny Gray, P, Athletics
- Luke Gregerson, P, Astros
- Josh Harrison, INF, Pirates
- Eric Hosmer, INF, Royals
- Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
- Ian Kinsler, INF, Tigers
- Jonathan Lucroy, C, Rangers
- Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
- Jake McGee, P, Rockies
- Andrew Miller, P, Indians
- Daniel Murphy, INF, Nationals
- Buster Posey, C, Giants
- Tanner Roark, P, Nationals
- Marcus Stroman, P, Blue Jays
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
- Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
The US opens up with Colombia this Friday in Miami at 5 cst. The Colombians are not expected to get out of the pool, so this should be a win for the US. The team to beat in this pool is the Dominican Republic. Team Canada is also in Pool C, but is not expected to do too much, especially with pitchers Eric Gagne and Rich Dempster on the line up.
Who is favored to win it all?
The biggest favorite as far as I see it is probably the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans are LOADED. Adrian Beltre, Manny Machado, Jose Reyes just to name. This team is stacked, and is WBC tested. The Dominican Republic is the reigning champions and looking to repeat.
Japan should never be counted out. The Japanese have won Two WBC's and are looking to repeat. Japan currently has probably the best overall player ini the world, Shohei Otani. Last year as a 22 year old he had a 2.12 ERA with 151 K's, and a triple slash batting of .326/.425/.611 with 22 bombs. The reason you haven't heard of him yet is he still plays in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters. The only problem is he is currently nursing an injured ankle and won't be playing. This one player may be the reason I can't pick them.
Cuba has been a perennial contender in the classic, but due to numerous players defecting the past few years for the MLB, and the fact they won't allow them to play on the national team. This team is drained. I still expect them to move through pool play, but that is about it.
Puerto Rico was last WBC's runner up, but most of their core is another 4 years older, and I don't see them contending as highly as they did last year. That being said it would be a fun Cinderella story again.
Honestly I would love to say team USA wins it all. But I am not sure if they do. For whatever reason the Americans do not do well in international play. I don't know if it is the timing for the Major Leaguers, the lack of backing by their nations (most Americans seem to yawn at the WBC), or just the rest of the world catching up, but the best we have ever finished is 4th in 2009. One thing is for sure, the American's have the edge in Pitching. Power arms like Chris Archer, Danny Duffy, Marcus Stroman and Andrew Miller will keep the US in games. But the fire power on offense may be a little lacking compared to some of the other squads.
My team to watch is the Dutch. With Andrelton Simmons, Xander Bogarts, and Didi Gregorious this may be the greatest infield ever assembled. If they can find some pitching, you may see a run out of this team.
So there you have it. All you need to know about the World Baseball Classic. Here is hoping the US can bring home the Championship, and remind the rest of the world exactly where this game came from!
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