loading

  About 5 minutes reading time.

WBN’s Preview of Pool B at the 2023 World Baseball Classic

 Leif Skodnick  |    Mar 7th, 2023 11:46am EST
The Tokyo Dome will host Pool B at the 2023 World Baseball Classic Photo by Koji Watanabe SAMURAI JAPANSAMURAI JAPAN via Getty Images

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

How will the five teams in Pool B of the 2023 World Baseball Classic fare at the Tokyo Dome? Let’s take a look:

Japan

Notable Players: Shohei Ohtani may be the best baseball player in the world, and will suit up for the Japanese national team for the first time in over six years. San Diego Padres’ ace Yu Darvish will be a top of the rotation for Japan, and will be relied upon to go deep into his starts. Lars Nootbar is the first player born outside of Japan to play for the Japanese national team. 

Best Result at World Baseball Classic: Japan defeated Cuba in the 2006 WBC Championship, and defeated South Korea to win the championship in 2009. 

Pool Play Schedule
March 9 – vs. Japan – 5 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 1 
March 10 – vs. Japan – 5 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 11 – vs. Japan -5 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 12 – vs. Australia – 5 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 1

Prediction: Japan is the clear favorite to win Pool B. Their matchup with Korea should be the most competitive game of Pool B. Japan’s three other games with China, Czech Republic, and Australia should be fun to watch, but Japan will win all three matchups. Japan will finish pool play 4-0 and move on to the semifinals. 

Korea

Notable Players: Ha-Seong Kim will play shortstop for Korea, and bring a contact first approach to the plate. Tommy Edman adds speed and versatility, allowing manager Kang Chul Lee to utilize him at different positions. Kwang-Hyun Kim pitched for two years with the St. Louis Cardinals, and had a career 2.97 ERA. 

Best Result at World Baseball Classic: Korea was the runner-up in the 2009 WBC, losing to Japan in the championship game.

Pool Play Schedule
March 8 – vs. Australia – 10 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 9 – Off 
March 10 – vs. Japan – 5 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 2
March 11 – vs. Czech Republic – 10 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 13 – vs. China – 6 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 2

Prediction: Korea and Australia should come down to the wire, but Korea should have the slight advantage. The talent and experience on the Korea roster will be too much to handle for the Czech Republic and China, but Japan will keep them from going undefeated. Korea will move on to the quarterfinals as the runner-up of Pool B. 

Australia 

Notable Players: Outfielder Aaron Whitefield made his Major League Baseball debut in 2022 with the Los Angeles Angels. Relief pitcher Liam Doolan struck out 74 batters in 54.1 innings in 2022 with the Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs. 

Best Result at World Baseball Classic: Australia finished in 9th place at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. 

Pool Play Schedule
March 8 – vs. Korea – 10 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 9 – Off 
March 10 – vs. China – 10 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 2
March 11 – Off  
March 12 – vs. Japan – 6 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 12 – vs. Czech Republic – 11 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 2

Prediction: Australia is looking to prove themselves as a country with very talented players, and fans should expect them to do so.Their games should be tight contests, besides their matchup with Japan. Australia will defeat China and Czech Republic, but lose to Japan and Korea, finishing 2-2 overall. 

China 

Notable Players: Los Angeles Angels pitcher Alan Carter is the only player on the roster who plays in the USA. Ray Chang, 39, has played for China in the World Baseball Classic in 2009, 2013, and 2017. Returning to catch is Li Ning, who was on the 2017 China WBC team. 

Best Result at World Baseball Classic: China finished 11th at the 2009 World Baseball Classic, with a 1-2 record. 

Pool Play Schedule 
March 9 – vs. Japan – 5 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 9 – vs. Czech Republic – 10 p.m. ET – Tubi 
March 10 – vs. Australia – 10 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 2
March 11 – Off 
March 12 – Off 
March 13 – vs. Korea – 6 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 2

Prediction: China may have trouble securing a win in the tournament. Their best chance for an upset should be against the Czech Republic and or Australia. Unless they get the pitching performance of a lifetime from one of their starting pitchers, Japan should defeat China easily. China will finish pool play 0-4. 

Czech Republic 

Notable Players: Former Major League Baseball veteran Eric Sogard will be the leader of the team, and emerging college baseball star Marek Chlup has a chance to make a name for himself on the world’s biggest stage. 

Best Result at World Baseball Classic: 2023 will be the first World Baseball Classic appearance for Czech Republic 

Pool Play Schedule
March 9 – vs. China – 10 p.m. ET – Tubi 
March 10 – Off
March 11 – vs. Japan – 5 a.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 11 – vs. Korea – 10 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 1
March 12 – vs. Australia – 11 p.m. ET – Fox Sports 2

Prediction: Czech Republic will defeat China in their first ever World Baseball Classic game, but lose to Japan, Korea, and Australia. Winning one game should be the goal, and their first game against China will be their best opportunity to do so. The Czech Republic will lose their remaining three games against Japan, Korea, and Australia to finish pool play 1-3. 

author avatar
Leif Skodnick