Tuesday night marks the start of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, which will feature 20 foreign teams competing over the course of the following two weeks.
Which team will be celebrating on the pitch on March 21 at Miami’s loanDepot Park after all is said and done? And who will establish his legacy by winning the MVP Award for the competition?
Only time will tell, but for the time being, MLB.com asked a panel of experts to provide their predictions for the Classic.
• On FOX, FS1, FS2, FOX Deportes, and Tubi, you can watch the World Baseball Classic live.
In this World Baseball Classic, good hitting will prevail over good pitching. The greatest pitching staffs in this tournament belong to Japan and the Dominican Republic, and Roki Sasaki in particular is the player I’m most eager to watch.
Yet, the USA lineup will outslug both of them. Trea Turner is my MVP because he will be the trigger for the entire thing. Even though the Dominican side has a deeper staff, a U.S.-D.R. championship might showcase two of the best top-to-bottom lineups ever. Yet, Mike Trout and company will find a way to beat them in one winner-take-all game and repeat as WBC champions. Bold prediction: Italy will surprise everyone this year and become the new Israel.
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Bold prediction: Italy will resemble Israel this year and make an unexpected run before losing to the big boys in the semifinals. They have a lot of big league talent on their squad, so they’re better than you think.
This year’s competition features many teams that have a clear weakness. Maybe there aren’t enough pitchers, maybe the defence isn’t good, or maybe there aren’t enough skilled batters. None of those issues exist with Team D.R. They have an infield and outfield suited for an All-Star team, a pitching staff led by the current Cy Young Award winner, and a bullpen stocked with World Series champions.
Even their 42-year-old GM still makes pitchers shudder when he enters the batter’s box.
My pick to make some noise this year is the Netherlands. Their infield is talented, they have excellent coaching, and they have a decent blend of veterans who have done well in previous Classics. They may not have enough starting pitching to overcome the dominating Dominican lineup, in my opinion. The offensive of Team USA is somewhat comparable to that of D.R., however, like the Dutch, their pitching depth may be a problem. The Dominican Republic is a dream team, according to Juan Soto, and dream teams typically win.
The Dominican Republic appears to be a force even without Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Do you recognise that lineup? Did I also mention that Sandy Alcantara is the current National League Cy Young Award winner? I can see clearly.
They are likely to take home the event’s second championship, in my opinion. The United States, the current champions, also have a team that is probably superior than what they had in 2017. The Venezuelan team appears to be strong. Puerto Rico is due after losing the last two finals, while Mexico might be the Classic’s dark horse. What do they all share, though? They compete on the same bracket side. It is the key factor influencing my preference for Japan. They have the skills and the international event experience, plus Shohei Ohtani, who hasn’t missed the chance to start launching balls to the moon in advance of the competition. Japan will earn a third victory.
They have the skills and the international event experience, plus Shohei Ohtani, who hasn’t missed the chance to start launching balls to the moon in advance of the competition. Japan will overcome the Dominican Republic in a thrilling contest to claim its third World Baseball Classic championship.
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