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WBN’s World Baseball Classic Power Rankings: Japan Stands Atop the WBC Mountain

 Leif Skodnick  |    Mar 9th, 2023 4:49pm EST
Shohei Ohtani of Japan is seen prior to the World Baseball Classic Pool B game between China and Japan at Tokyo Dome on March 9 2023 in Tokyo Japan Photo by Kenta HaradaGetty Images

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

World Baseball Network’s Matthew Tallarini has ranked all 20 teams in the World Baseball Classic. Today, we look at teams ranked No. 5 through No. 1 in his power rankings.

5.  Puerto Rico – Manager Yadier Molina has the chance to help Puerto Rico go back to the championship game for a third straight World Baseball Classic. Puerto Rico will deep roster of players from Major League Baseball, the high minor leagues, and international league players for the World Baseball Classic. Francisco Lindor, Javy Baez, and Eddie Rosario will be the key to Puerto Rico’s offense in Pool D of the World Baseball Classic in Miami. Marcus Stroman, the 2017 WBC MVP for Team USA, will be on the pitching staff for Puerto Rico during the 2023 World Baseball Classic  Starting pitcher Jose Berrios and closer Edwin Diaz will be crucial components of Ricky Bones’ pitching staff.  

WBC Site: Pool D, Loan Depot Park, Miami, Florida 

WBSC Ranking: 13

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – vs. Nicaragua – Noon EST – Fox Sports 2
March 12 – vs. Venezuela – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 13 – vs. Israel – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 15 – vs. Dominican Republic – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 

4.  Venezuela – Manager Omar Lopez has a veteran team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Venezuela has made its only semifinal appearance in the World Baseball Classic in 2009.  Miguel Cabrera will play in his fifth World Baseball Classic during his storied Hall of Fame career, while Jose Altuve is playing in his third World Baseball Classic and could be a major spark for Venezuela’s offense.  Ronald Acuna Jr. is playing in his first World Baseball Classic and will look to provide some pop to Venezuela’s offense. Pitching coach Ivan Artega will have Pablo Lopez, Luis Garcia, and Jesus Luzardo eating innings and getting batters out. Venezuela has also drawn several players from the Liga Venezuela de Beisbol Profesional winter circuit to build their team for the World Baseball Classic.  

WBC Site: Pool D, Loan Depot Park, Miami, Florida

WBSC Ranking:

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – vs. Dominican Republic – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 12 – vs. Puerto Rico – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 14 – vs. Nicaragua – Noon EST – Fox Sports 2
March 15 – vs. Israel – Noon EST – Fox Sports 2

3.  United States – Manager Mark DeRosa built a great team under general manager Tony Reagins for the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Team USA is on a mission to win back-to-back WBC titles, having defeated Puerto Rico in last World Baseball Classic championship game in 2017. If they did it, USA would be the first team to go back-to-back since Japan won the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009. Pitching Coach Andy Pettitte will have to adjust without Nestor Cortes and Clayton Kershaw on this year’s pitching staff.  Adam Wainwright, Kyle Freeland, and Nick Martinez will have to step up for the starting rotation of Team USA. Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Tim Anderson will be key contributors to the offense of the United States in the World Baseball Classic.  

WBC Site: Pool C, Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona 

WBSC Ranking: 3

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – vs. Great Britain – 9 p.m. EST – Fox
March 12 – vs. Mexico – 10 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 13 – vs. Canada – 10 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 15 – vs. Colombia – 10 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 

2.  Dominican Republic – Manager Rodney Linares has one of the best infields on paper in the history of the World Baseball Classic. Manny Machado, Rafael Devers, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Jeremy Pena can capture the baseball world’s eyes on the global stage. The Dominican Republic has not won the World Baseball Classic since 2013, when they beat arch rival Puerto Rico in the championship game in San Francisco at AT&T Park. They’ll look to bring the fire this time around with a huge home field advantage in Miami, starting with pool play all the way through the championship game, should they make it that far. Pitching coach Wellington Cepeda has a solid staff, including Johnny Cueto, 2022 National League Cy Young award winner Sandy Alcantara, and Cristian Javier. General manager Nelson Cruz is also suiting up for the Dominican Republic during the 2023 World Baseball Classic.  

WBC Site: Pool D, LoanDepot Park, Miami, Florida 

WBSC Ranking:

Pool Play Schedule
March 11 – vs. Venezuela – 7 p.m. – Fox Sports 1
March 13 – vs. Nicaragua – Noon EST – Fox Sports 2
March 14 – vs. Israel – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 15 – vs. Puerto Rico – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 

1.  Japan – Manager Hideki Kuriyama has a great roster for Japan during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Japan is the number one team in the world in the World Baseball Softball Confederation rankings and will look to win their third championship title in the World Baseball Classic, largely with players from Nippon Professional Baseball. Yu Darvish, Shohei Ohtani, Masataka Yoshida, and Lars Nootbaar will be the only players out of Major League Baseball to play for Japan. Pitching coach Masato Yoshii will have Ohtani, Roki Sasaki, Darvish and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in the starting rotation. Japan won the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a similar roster on home soil, and now Japan has to make its mark to leave Tokyo and get to Miami to win the 2023 World Baseball Classic. 

WBC Site: Pool B, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan

WBSC Ranking: 1

Pool Play Schedule
March 9 – vs. China – 5 a.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 10 – vs. Korea – 5 a.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 11 – vs. Czech Republic – 5 a.m. EST – Fox Sports 1
March 12 – vs. Australia – 6 a.m. EST – Fox Sports 1 

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Leif Skodnick