Is This Finally Team USA’s Year?
The finalized rosters for all 16 teams competing in this year’s World Baseball Classic were released late Thursday night.
Is this the year the United States finally proves itself the dominant baseball power of the world? The U.S. wasn’t able to make it to beyond the semifinals in either of the previous two installments of the World Baseball Classic. But this year manager Joe Torre has put together a roster brimming with talent both at the plate and on the mound. Let’s take a look at Team USA”s 28-man roster.
|Jeremy Affeldt||41||L-L||6’4″||225||Jun 6, 1979|
|Heath Bell||21||R-R||6’2″||260||Sep 29, 1977|
|Mitchell Boggs||41||R-R||6’4″||215||Feb 15, 1984|
|Steve Cishek||31||R-R||6’6″||215||Jun 18, 1986|
|Tim Collins||55||L-L||5’7″||165||Aug 21, 1989|
|Ross Detwiler||R-L||6’5″||190||Mar 6, 1986|
|R.A. Dickey||43||R-R||6’2″||215||Oct 29, 1974|
|Gio Gonzalez||R-L||6’0″||200||Sep 19, 1985|
|Luke Gregerson||57||L-R||6’3″||200||May 14, 1984|
|Derek Holland||45||S-L||6’2″||210||Oct 9, 1986|
|Craig Kimbrel||46||R-R||5’11”||205||May 28, 1988|
|Chris Perez||54||R-R||6’4″||230||Jul 1, 1985|
|Glen Perkins||15||L-L||6’0″||205||Mar 2, 1983|
|Vinnie Pestano||52||R-R||6’0″||200||Feb 20, 1985|
|Ryan Vogelsong||32||R-R||6’4″||215||Jul 22, 1977|
|J.P. Arencibia||9||R-R||6’0″||205||Jan 5, 1986|
|Jonathan Lucroy||20||R-R||6’0″||195||Jun 13, 1986|
|Joe Mauer||7||L-R||6’5″||230||Apr 19, 1983|
|Willie Bloomquist||18||R-R||5’11”||185||Nov 27, 1977|
|Brandon Phillips||4||R-R||6’0″||200||Jun 28, 1981|
|Jimmy Rollins||11||S-R||5’8″||180||Nov 27, 1978|
|Mark Teixeira||25||S-R||6’3″||215||Apr 11, 1980|
|David Wright||5||R-R||6’0″||210||Dec 20, 1982|
|Ben Zobrist||18||S-R||6’3″||210||May 26, 1981|
|Ryan Braun||8||R-R||6’1″||200||Nov 17, 1983|
|Adam Jones||10||R-R||6’3″||225||Aug 1, 1985|
|Giancarlo Stanton||27||R-R||6’5″||245||Nov 8, 1989|
|Shane Victorino||18||S-R||5’9″||190||Nov 30, 1980|
|Gerald Perry||Batting Coach|
|Greg Maddux||Pitching Coach|
|Dale Murphy||First Base Coach|
|Willie Randolph||Third Base Coach|
|Larry Bowa||Bench Coach|
The projected starting infield for Team USA will feature Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Mets third baseman David Wright. Joe Mauer will likely get the nod at catcher. The Twins veteran is a former AL MVP.
Manning the outfield will be Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, and Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. WIllie Bloomquist of the Diamondbacks and Ben Zobrist of the Rays are two versatile utility players who can man virtually any position in the field besides catcher and hold their own at the dish.
The squad boasts a deep 10-man pitching staff to boot. Making up the starting rotation are knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays, World Series champion Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants, and three hard-throwing left handers – Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler of the Nationals, and Derek Holland of the Rangers.
Bookending the staff is Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves, arguably the best closer in the big leagues. He will be supported by two other top flight closers in Chris Perez of the Indians and Steve Cishek of the Marlins.
Team USA’s star power isn’t just limited to the field. There will be plenty of big names occupying the dugout as well, headlined by future hall of famer Joe Torre, who is coming out of retirement to manage the team. He will be joined by former star players and big league managers on his staff.
Team USA is favored to win the tournament at 5/2, but the U.S. isn’t the only team steeped with major league talent. The entire Dominican Republic roster, except for one, is made up of current big leaguers. And the one – former Tigers closer Jose Valverde – is a sure thing to be on a roster before the end of Spring. The Dominican Republic checks in at No. 2, with 13/4 odds to win it all. Some featured names that will appear in the Dominican lineup include Nelson Cruz, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Robinson Cano, Erick Aybar, Carlos Santana, Fernando Rodney, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez.
All of that recognizable talent does not necessarily equate to success, especially in a format like the WBC. Team Japan, winners of each of the last two tournaments, does not boast a single major league player on its roster, yet they are still ranked No. 3 in the world and also carry 7/2 odds to win the WBC.
Canada has steadily improved in now its third World Baseball Classic. Currently at 18/1, the big question surrounding Team Canada is whether or not Reds first baseman Joey Votto is going to play. Votto and Team Canada are taking a wait and see approach to do make sure each are going what’s best for the player and the Reds. Votto missed significant time last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, and the plan is to see how he performs and feels during spring games before making a decision on his participation with the national team. But even without Votto, 12 major league players have signed up to play for Team Canada, including Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, Pirates catcher Russell Martin and Brewers closer Jonathan Axford.
You can check out all 16 rosters by visiting the official website for the World Baseball Classic and clicking on “Teams”. All 39 WBC games will be broadcast on the MLB Network, beginning with Round 1 pool play on March 2. Seeds All Day will offer predictions on which teams will advance from each pool as the competition nears.