The World Baseball Classic is back and the group stages have just begun. The United States, the team that won the previous WBC back in 2017, have a strong chance to repeat as champions. The lineup is stacked from one to nine with All-Stars, and it is arguably the best lineup Team USA has ever trotted out there for the WBC. It would be difficult to field an All-Star team better than this.
Team USA looking stacked for World Baseball Classic
The lineup looks to be shaping up like this: Mookie Betts, RF; Mike Trout, CF; Kyle Schwarber, DH; Paul Goldschmidt, 1B; Nolan Arenado, 3B; Kyle Tucker, LF; Trea Turner, SS; J.T. Realmuto, C; Jeff McNeil, 2B. Not listed on this possible lineup card: Pete Alonso, Tim Anderson, Bobby Witt Jr, Cedric Mullins, Kyle Higashioka, and Will Smith.
Generally, the WBC roster has a nice mix of young talent and veterans. This year, however, Cardinals teammates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are the only two returning from the 2017 team, and they’re surrounded with equally decorated players.
The lineup is the key, look at the depth that they have. The bottom third of the lineup consists of Trea Turner, who is one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball and just signed a huge contract with Philadelphia, J.T. Realmuto, who is one of the best all-around players in baseball and a great catcher, and the National League batting champion, Jeff McNeil, batting ninth.
You have multiple All-Stars coming off the bench as well. It’ll be difficult for any country to pitch to the U.S., as there isn’t an easy out anywhere.
in 2017, Marcus Stroman was named the Most Valuable Player of the WBC. Having a dominant starting pitcher can take you far in this tournament. This roster isn’t necessarily strong on that front. Adam Wainwright is starting game one against Great Britain (Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern on Fox). He’s reliable, but is up there in age. Kyle Freeland, Lance Lynn, Brady Singer, Merrill Kelly, Nick Martinez, and Miles Mikolas round out the starters. The rotation is by no means bad, but there isn’t a certified ace of the staff.
The bullpen will be the key. Assuming this lineup can put up runs (safe assumption), the starters won’t be tasked with shutting down opponents. It would be up to the bullpen to shut things down late. Daniel Bard, Kendall Graveman, Ryan Pressly, Devin Williams and Adam Ottavino are going to be the guys to split innings. Each one is a heavily relied upon reliever for their respected teams.
Lastly, the defense of Team USA. You can’t make defensive mistakes, especially against strong contenders like Dominican Republic and Japan. Team USA’s starting lineup has a combined 23 Gold Gloves, and six Platinum Gloves (those are all Arenado). Trout, Turner and McNeil don’t even have Gold Gloves but are all considered good defenders, so there shouldn’t be any mistakes on that end. On the contrary, we’ll probably see more than just one Web Gem from this team.
This is arguably the best roster Team USA has ever had, many are expecting them to win it all again. The Dominican Republic is the betting favorite to win, with USA and Japan just behind them. However, you can’t get wrapped up thinking about playing them down the road. Every country has great players.
One game at a time.