We are still waiting on word that the final 28-man rosters for the 2013 World Baseball Classic have been officially set. This will be the third installment of the tournament that pits nation against nation similar to the World Cup in soccer. Thus far, Japan has been the only country to hoist the WBC trophy, beating Cuba 10-6 in the 2006 championship and Korea 5-3 in 2009’s title game.
Each version has introduced the baseball world to a budding international star. In 2006, it was Japan’s Daisuke Matsuzaka and his mysterious gyro ball. The pitcher more familiarly known as Dice-K took home MVP honors after going 3-0 for the tournament and earning the win in the title-clenching game. He was able to parlay that success into some serious cash – the Red Sox paid $51 million just for the chance to negotiate with the right hander before signing him to a six-year, $52 million contract in 2007.
Matsuzaka again led team Japan to the WBC championship in 2009, earning MVP honors after another 3-0 record, but it was the emergence of another pitcher that captured baseball’s attention. Cuban left hander Aroldis Chapman dazzled with his ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun. The flamethrower defected from Cuba shortly after the tournament before signing with the Cincinnati Reds for six years at $30 million. Chapman, who has been dubbed the Cuban Missile, was one of baseball’s most dominant closers last season and holds the major league record for fastest recorded pitch speed in MLB history at 105.1 mph (though some guns clocked the pitch at 106 mph). Chapman is preparing for the transition to starter for the upcoming 2013 season.
So who will be the new face that garners big league attention from this year’s installation of the World Baseball Classic? Only time will tell. We will provide an update once an official announcement about the final rosters is made.
As we gear up for the WBC, which begins on March 2, let’s take a look at the format for the tournament:
First Round – Round Robin
- Teams are divided into four pools (A, B, C and D)
- Each team plays the other three teams in their pool once
- The two teams with the highest winning percentage at the end of round-robin pool play advance to the Second Round
Second Round- Modified Double Elimination
- Teams are divided into two pools – the top two teams from Pool A and Pool B are placed in a pool (Pool 1) and the top two teams from Pool C and Pool D are placed in another (Pool 2)
- The first set of games pit a pool winner against a pool-runner up
- The teams compete in double elimination format until there are two teams left in each pool
Semi-Final and Championship Rounds – Single Elimination
- Each semi-final match pits a winner of a second round pool against the runner-up of the other second round pool
- The winners of each semi final game advance to the championship game
- The championship is a one-game, winner take all contest. The winner is your 2013 WBC Champion.