After six years of absence, the World Baseball Classic is making its return to the big stage, with twenty different nations competing to see who will hoist the WBC trophy and earn the title as the best baseball nation in the world. Action begins on Wednesday March 8 in four different cities across the globe, with the final gold medal game being played on March 21 in Miami, Florida.
With this only being the 5th edition of the World Baseball Classic, no one team has been able to consistently dominate year-in-year-out. However, I expect that to change this year, as the Dominican Republic will begin play with some of the biggest superstars the MLB has to offer.
Below I will list just a few of the reasons I think the Dominican Republic is the team to beat and will win the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
The Dominican Republic squad is filled with star players all over the diamond, and it makes sense since eight players from their current roster made the 2022 MLB All-Star game. Among these players is the reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner Sandy Alcantara and AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez.
Those stats don’t even begin to explain how much talent is on this team. Their starting rotation features Alcantara, Cristian Javier, who is coming off a World Series victory in November, Johnny Cueto, former 2-time all-star and 2015 World Series Champ, and Roansy Contreras, a 22-year-old who has had a solid start to the beginning of his career.
Depth in the Dugout and Bullpen
If that wasn’t enough, the Dominican Republic has the best bullpen in the World Baseball Classic by far. They have multiple all-star relief pitches as well as lights out closers in 2022 all-star Gregory Soto and Hector Neris, who registered 75 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched en route to helping the Houston Astros win the World Series.
As I mentioned before, there are a number of all-stars on this roster, both positional players and pitchers. However, what may be most impressive about this team is the amount of depth that they have at every position in the infield and outfield.
Starting in the in-field, the Dominican Republic manager, Rodney Linares, is destined to have a few easy days at the office, as he has enough talented players that he can start any of them and still produce a prolific offense with stout defensive play. Not to mention, he can also swap any of his infielders into the lineup as a designated hitter to give his team a boost.
Although they only have four outfielders, all four of them would most likely start on any of the 30 teams in the MLB. Linares has such a solid outfield that he could randomly draw three names out of a hat and the team would still dominate. In addition to Julio Rodriguez, the Dominican Republic also have Teoscar Hernandez, who is a 2-time silver slugger winner, Eloy Jimenez, who is a former silver slugger winner, and Juan Soto, who’s a 3-time silver slugger and 2019 World Series winner.
Although capturing the title certainly won’t be easy, it seems that the Dominican Republic are already a few paces ahead of the pack before the competition even began. As long as their roster is able to play to their abilities, the Dominican Republic are winning the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
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