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Hard-Hitting Baseball Analysis

World Baseball Classic quick thoughts

 

  • That was a hell of a tournament by pretty much any measure: frenetic crowd noise, record-setting attendance, impassioned play, close games and intriguing match-ups. The World Baseball Classic commenced with little buzz, but ended up being a home run for the game. Hopefully Major League Baseball rides this momentum to create an even better 2021 WBC.
  • While much of the tournament’s initial buzz centered around who was not there for Team USA – Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw, to name a few – it ended up being for the best. It was nice seeing unheralded stars like Nolan Arenado and Christian Yelich get the national recognition they deserve.
  • After watching Royals 1B Eric Hosmer and Giants SS Brandon Crawford and C Buster Posey, it’s no surprise that they’re World Series champions. The consistency and “bring it every play’ mentality of these three is hard to appreciate without watching them every game. These guys consistently make winning baseball plays that don’t always show up in the box score.
  • While Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler may feel otherwise, the energy and panache displayed by Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and others made the World Baseball Classic exciting. Many American players are not fond of after-play theatrics, but the fans absolutely love it. Instead of shaving minutes off gameplay through pace of play initiatives, perhaps Commissioner Rob Manfred should focus more on making the game exciting again to young fans. Guys who wear their emotion on their sleeve like Cubs 2B Javier Baez make the game more fun, archaic etiquette rules notwithstanding.
  • Dominican and Puerto Rican fans are awesome. Their energy and genuine love for baseball is unmatched across the world.
  • No major injuries! While there was a scare after Italy C Drew Butera collided into Royals teammate and fellow catcher Salvador Perez at the plate, Perez ended up being fine. Hopefully the injury gods are as kind in 2021 as they were this year.
  • Orioles 3B Manny Machado absolutely dominated throughout the tournament for the Dominican Republic, flashing an exceptional glove to match his powerful bat. While the AL is rife with MVP candidates – like Mike Trout, Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts – I’m picking Machado to take home the award this year. (Full season predictions will come soon!)
  • While he only started one game, Rays RHP Chris Archer was dominant for Team USA. Look for Archer to have a major bounce-back season for Tampa Bay this year.
  • Marco Estrada is a damn-good pitcher, Aaron Sanchez’s talent is bottomless, and J.A. Happ won 20 games last season, but Marcus Stroman will emerge as Toronto’s ace this year. Fully recovered from last season’s ACL injury, Stroman was in complete control throughout the WBC, aside from one inning against a robust Puerto Rico lineup. With all his pitches appearing in mid-season form and his competitive fire showing no signs of being doused, look for Stroman to put forth an All-Star caliber 2017.
  • It’s always fun watching Team Japan, with the herky-jerky pitching wind-ups, high leg kicks and its proficiency at small ball. One player who caught my eye was 2B/OF Tetsuto Yamada, who has power, speed and baseball savvy. I hope Yamada opts to play in the United States one day because he’s a joy to watch.
  • Adam “Captain America” Jones.
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Updated: March 26, 2017 — 6:30 pm

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