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WBN’s Top 10 World Baseball Classic Players of All-Time

 Leif Skodnick  |    Mar 1st, 2023 8:22pm EST

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

The first game of the World Baseball Classic was played 17 years ago in 2006. Since then, the event was held three more times in 2009, 2013, and 2017. After the coronavirus pandemic postponed the 2021 WBC, it was announced that the fifth WBC would be moved to 2023. 

Since 2006, hundreds of professional baseball players from all across the world have competed in the World Baseball Classic. Included are Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, international superstars, and rising prospects. A special group of players have contributed to their teams in a big way, and have the statistics to show for it. However, 10 players have stood out above the rest. 

Top Ten World Baseball Classic Players of All-Time

10. Fernando Rodney, Dominican Republic – Relief Pitcher 

WBC Statistics – 15 games, 8 saves, 0.59 ERA, 19 Strikeouts in 15.1 innings 

Fernando Rodney allowed just one hit in 7.1 innings in 2013 with the Dominican Republic, and has allowed just one run in 15 appearances overall. Rodney recorded the final three outs to win the gold medal for the D.R. in 2013 over Puerto Rico 

9. Jimmy Rollins, United States – Shortstop 

WBC Statistics – 14 games, .365 BA, one home run, four RBI 

Jimmy Rollins was arguably the best shortstop during the 2009 MLB season with the Philadelphia Phillies, and continued his success with team USA. Rollins hit .417 in WBC play in 2009, and scored eight runs. 

8. Marcus Stroman, United States, Puerto Rico – Pitcher

WBC Statistics – 15.1 innings, 2.35 ERA, four earned runs, nine strikeouts 

Marcus Stroman will represent Puerto Rico in the 2023 WBC, but played for the United States in 2017. Stroman no-hit Puerto Rico through the seventh inning of the championship game in 2017, which the United States would go on to win 8-0. Stroman was named the MVP of the tournament. 

7. Alfredo Despaigne, Cuba – Outfielder 

WBC Statistics – 17 games, .778 slugging percentage, seven home runs 

Alfredo Despaigne has been a force to be reckoned with for a long time at the World Baseball Classic. Despaigne is the all-time leader in WBC history with seven home runs. He hit three home runs in both 2013 and 2017 for Cuba. 

6. Carlos Beltran, Puerto Rico – Outfielder 

WBC Statistics – 28 games, .316 BA, three home runs, 14 RBI 

Beltran leads all players in WBC games played, and has competed in the tournament four times. He hit .435 as the designated hitter for Puerto Rico in the 2017 tournament, and walked 19 times and scored 17 runs overall. 

5. Miguel Cabrera, Venezuela – First Base/Designated Hitter:

WBC Statistics – 23 games, .250 BA, six home runs, 15 RBI 

Future MLB Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera has played in every World Baseball Classic, but 2023 will almost certainly be his last. Cabrera hit two home runs in his first seven at-bats of the WBC in 2006, and has hit six overall, tied for second most in event history. 

4. Robinson Cano, Dominican Republic – Infielder

WBC Statistics – 17 games, .369 BA, three home runs, nine RBI 

Robinson Cano can be considered a pioneer of power hitting second basemen in the MLB, after hitting 25 homers as a 26-year old on the 2009 World Series champion New York Yankees. Whether playing in the majors or the D.R., Cano always shows up with the bat. Cano led the champions in nearly every offensive category in 2013, and became the first position player to win the World Baseball Classic MVP Award. 

3. Ichiro Suzuki, Japan – Outfielder 

WBC Statistics – 17 games, .312 BA, one home run, 10 RBI, five stolen bases

Ichiro Suzuki did not compete in the WBC in 2013 or 2017, but is still at the top of the leaderboard in hits. Suzuki led Japan to two championships in 2006 and 2009, including the game-winning two-run single in extra innings against South Korea in 2009. He would have been named tournament MVP  were it not for his teammate, also on this list. 

2. Frederich Cepeda, Cuba – Designated Hitter

WBC Statistics – 25 games, .381 BA, six home runs, 23 RBI, 22 walks 

Cepeda is tied for second all-time in home runs at the WBC, and has hit some absolute bombs. He is the WBC leader in hits, RBIs, and runs scored. The now 42-year-old represented Cuba in 2006, 09’, and 13’, and holds a career slash line of .381/.509/.714 in WBC play. 

1. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japan – Starting Pitcher:

WBC Statistics – Six starts, 6-0, 1.95 ERA, 23 strikeouts in 27.2 innings 

Matsuzaka was a big name for the Boston Red Sox, but his biggest moments came with Japan across his chest. The right-hander won the World Baseball Classic MVP Award twice, and remains the only player to do so. Matsuzaka defeated Cuba in the 2006 gold medal game, throwing six shutout innings. He sent Japan to the championship game in 2009, defeating USA in the semifinal game. His six wins as a pitcher in tournament play is three more than the next closest pitcher, with three. 

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Leif Skodnick