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World Baseball Classic Team USA Preview

Team USA has a loaded roster for the 2023 World Baseball Classic, but hard-hitting competition awaits in the long-anticipated event.

The World Baseball Classic will be played for the first time in six years, launching the baseball season from the shadow of the Super Bowl. MLB players can elect to represent any country with which they have connecting lineage, including, for the first time, Cuban defectors. Team USA boasts a roster that looks almost like an All-Star Game, but they will have stiff competition trying to run it back after their 2017 championship.

The USA World Baseball Classic team has more All-Stars than there are positions on the field. So, yes, there will be All-Stars riding the bench in every game. Even with Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw having to drop out due to injury and insurance issues, respectively, the two losses did not overwhelmingly dampen the ferocity of the team. With such an exceptionally loaded roster, it makes sense that Team USA Manager Mark DeRosa made it clear he will give all the guys on his lineup a shot in the non-elimination group stage. With this opportunity comes a significant chance that a player not regarded as highly as some of his teammates gets streaky and starts in front of a bigger name. 


Team USA’s position players create an unbelievable lineup. At catcher, the Americans carry two of the best backstops in the game, JT Realmuto of the Phillies and Will Smith of the Dodgers, along with Yankee Kyle Higashioka.

The infield and outfield players for Team USA are all Major League starters, and great ones at that. Reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt might force reigning RBI champion Pete Alonso into the designated hitter spot because they both play first base. The middle infield consists of superstars Trea Turner, Tim Anderson, and Bobby Witt Jr, with Nolan Arenado rounding out the elite group as the third baseman. The outfield squad might be the toughest challenge in assigning starters. Headlined by the superhuman Mike Trout, this group will make Mookie Betts, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Tucker, Jeff McNeil, and Cedric Mullins fight for a starting spot, which for most of them is a very distant thought during the regular season.

Perhaps the only “weakness” for the Americans is at pitcher. Team USA has a few elite hurlers, including All-Stars Mike Mikolas, David Bednar, and Devin Williams, but the names on the pitching roster don’t have the shock value that the position players do. Because pitchers cannot handle heavy workloads this early in the season, having a multitude of dominant starters is a big advantage. Unfortunately, Team USA does not have that. Their starters include Mikolas, Merrill Kelly, Brady Singer, Adam Wainwright, and Kyle Freeland. With imposed workload limits, the bullpen will prove to be essential. Led by the aforementioned Williams and Bednar, the “arm barn” also boasts Jason Adam, Daniel Bard, Kendall Graveman, Adam Ottavino, Ryan Pressley, and Nick Martinez.


The World Baseball Classic divides all 20 participating nations into four geographically divided pools that play a round robin. The top two in each advance to the quarterfinals, which begin single elimination for the rest of the tournament. As part of Pool C, the USA will play, in order, Great Britain, Mexico, Canada, and Colombia. 

Scouting the roster of Team USA’s Pool C opponents, you’d feel good about the Americans’ chances of emerging the winner. Colombia and Great Britain do not have rosters in any way comparable to America’s in terms of major league talent. Mexico might have a better 1-2 punch at starting pitcher, with elite hurlers Julio Urías and Taijuan Walker, but their hitting is significantly less dominant, once you look past Randy Arozarena and Alex Verdugo. Canada has established major leaguers Freddie Freeman and Tyler O’Neill but few other recognizable names.

Despite having an utterly stacked roster, the United States does not have the best odds of winning it all. That title belongs to the Dominican Republic team, GM-ed by Nelson Cruz, who created an eye-popping juggernaut including Manny Machado, reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, Rafael Devers, Juan Soto, and more elite Dominican MLB players. If the hotly anticipated matchup between these two countries occurred, it would be in either the quarterfinals or championship due to the WBC’s unconventional bracket.


Although the World Baseball Classic kicks off on Tuesday, March 7, the American team will not play until the following Saturday, beginning a stretch of games on three consecutive days, a day off, and then their first-round final against Colombia. All Team USA games will be broadcast on FS1 or FOX, and the championship will be played on March 21, in Miami, Florida at the Marlins’ LoanDepot Park. 

Pitcher Usage

The quick turnaround between every game of the tournament for all teams will make pitcher usage rules a major factor in the WBC, especially because pitchers have not yet built up to regular season workloads. 

The pitcher rest rules require at least four days off after an outing of 50 or more pitches and at least one day off after an outing of 30 or more pitches. Pitching three days in a row is also prohibited. The pitch count limits change between rounds of the tournament: 65 in the first round, 80 in the quarterfinals, and 95 in the championship.

On a side note, the World Baseball Classic has chosen not to institute the new MLB rules banning the shift, enforcing a pitch clock, and enlarging the bases. 


Without baseball in the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic is the only prominent international baseball competition. After six years of leadup, anticipation is high for slugfests and pitching duels between some of the most exciting WBC teams in the event’s history. Can the United States prevail? It won’t be easy.

The USA-Mexico rivalry transcends soccer for the first round (and possibly the championship, if both teams make it that far). A USA-Dominican Republic matchup would be incredibly fun, bearing the talent of an All-Star Game but with greater stakes. And if the Americans move on and face the team favored to prevail on the other end of the bracket, Japan, the storyline and on-field drama of Shohei Ohtani vs. Mike Trout would be must-watch television.

Let the games begin!

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