Will the USA defend the throne? Puerto Rico have been to the final dance twice - can they finally secure a title? Inform your 2023 World Baseball Classic predictions with insights from Pinnacle.
World Classic Baseball 2023
When: March 08 – 21, 2023
Where: Taiwan, Japan, and USA
Who: 20 nations
Originally slated for 2021 but eventually postponed due to the pandemic, the fifth edition of the World Classic Baseball tournament will finally commence on March 08, 2023.
The tournament has been boosted from 16 nations to 20 and all 2017 qualifying teams have earned automatic entrance – leaving four places to be filled.
Panama makes their triumphant return to the global baseball stage to fill one of those spots while three debutants have qualified – Great Britain, Czech Republic, and Nicaragua.
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Who won last year?
Held way back in 2017, the United States clinically defeated Puerto Rico 8-0 to secure a clean victory. MVP Marcus Stroman – who surprisingly will be playing for Puerto Rico this year – shut down the offensive line up with three strikeouts and a walk in six innings.
2023 World Baseball Classic: The Favourites
Japan have won twice, the US once as did the Dominican Republic. Is there space for another nation to step up and take the throne.
Odds to win: 3.950*
The USA are defending champions and should have a pretty easy run in Group C against the likes of Great Britain and Colombia. That’s not to say upsets won’t happen on the biggest stages but it is unlikely here.
Three former MVPs - Paul Goldschimdt, Mike Trout, and Mookie Betts - anchor the US team and are supported by a tremendously talented bench. If we were to sum up the USA, the key word depth certain comes to mind.
However, this is tournament offers little time to rest and games turn around quite quickly. The American pitchers are not exactly spring chickens. Adam Wainright has just pushed past 40 while both Merrill Kelly and Clayton Kershaw are 34 years old.
The explosive American offense is going to be hard to overcome. Jeff McNeil averaged .326 in the MLB last season while Kyle Schwarber smashed a whopping 46 home runs.
Odds to win: 3.290*
The Dominican Republic are slight favourites over the US and it is easy to see why. The 2017 champions are also boasting a side packed full of MLB stars.
Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Gary Sanchez will be at bet while the pitching mount will feature current National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara.
Odds to win: 3.460*
The Japanese Nippon Baseball League is well-regarded as the second best baseball league in the world and showcases the best talent outside of the MLB.
Samurai Japan feature a great range of youth and experience with the sides average age being a balanced 26.5.
Japan will be without Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki who pulled out of the tournament citing an oblique injury. Many top NPB stars feature in the Japanese team including 21-year old megastar Roki Sasaki who threw a perfect game last year – the first in 28 years and only 16th overall in NPB.
Record breaker Munetaka Murakami has the goods to take apart weak pitching against teams like Australia, China, and the Czech Republic.
2023 World Baseball Classic: The Dark Horses
Cuba could the strongest dark horse with many pundits considering the team as a genuine contender for the top four. At Pinnacles odds of 19.650* to win the title, they could provide exceptional value as a long shot.
Could Puerto Rico finally secure the title?
Puerto Rico are far from favourites but they are great value at 12.440* and were the 2013 and 2017 runner-ups.
The full roster hasn’t settled just yet but some serious top-tier talents have already been confirmed. This includes Marcus Stroman who was MVP of the 2017 World Baseball Classic and played for the USA against Puerto Rico.
Stroman has chosen to honour his mother who is Puerto Rican by switching sides. Winning would make Stroman the only man to win the World Baseball Classic as a member of two different nations.
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