These are the top 12 teams in the World Baseball Rankings as of Aug. 15, 2023. (Graphic Courtesy of World Baseball Softball Confederation)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The World Baseball Softball Confederation announced the updated World Baseball Rankings on Tuesday from their headquarters in Pully, Switzerland, following the conclusion of the U-12 World Cup earlier this month.
The World Baseball Rankings include the international baseball calendar cycle dating back to four years of all age group events.
The points from the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup 2019 have expired from the international baseball calendar cycle.
The 2019 Premier 12 points will expire right before Thanksgiving as the first international senior event to redirect in from the World Baseball Rankings.
The last change of the World Baseball Rankings followed the 2023 World Baseball Classic on March 28.
The WBSC U-12 World Cup awarded 345 points to the winner, 274 to the runner-up, and 250 to the third-place finisher.
World No. 1 Japan, No. 2 United States, No. 3 Mexico, No. 6 Venezuela, No. 9 Australia, and No. 10 the Dominican Republic all remained at their previous positions in the new ranking cycle.
Japan finished fourth at the U-12 World Cup, which did not result impact on their ranking.
Cuba and the Netherlands each exchanged their positioning at seven and eight.
Korea and Chinese Taipei both traded their placement ranking at four and five.
Puerto Rico fell two places from No. 11 to No. 13, and will have to rise back into the top 12 in order to be in the field for the Premier 12 tournament next November when the new rankings are released on December 31, 2023. Puerto Rico will participate in the U-18 World Cup in Taiwan with a chance to earn points and return to the top 12 rankings if they place high enough at the age group event.
Panama will be participating in the U-18 World Cup in Taiwan from August 31 to September 10 and rose three spots from No. 14 to No. 11 in the world.
Panama will have to keep their ranking up to par prior to the end of this international baseball calendar year and place high in the Pan American Games in order to participate in the Premier 12.
Canada dropped one spot from No. 13 to No. 14, and will be out of contention for the Premier 12 next year, as they are not participating in the U-18 World Cup and Pan American Games this October.
Italy remains at No. 12 from the previous ranking, and will have to place high at the 2023 European Championships to stay in contention to play in the 2024 Premier 12.
Singapore is the lone country that was not part of the last ranking, and is placed at No. 74.
Fiji, at No. 73, had the largest drop, falling 15 spots from the previous World Baseball Rankings.
The 2023 European Championships will take place in the Czech Republic from September 24 to October 1, and will have six venues during the international senior event: Eagles Prague in Prague, Arrows Park Ostrava in Ostrava-Poruba, BrnoField in Brno, Třebíč Na Hvězdě in Třebíč, YD Baseball Arena Brno in Brno, and Strawberry Field Blansko in Blansko will be the host sites.
The Pan American Games at the Baseball and Softball Center in Cerrillos, Chile from October 21-27, the Caribbean Cup at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico from October 1-8, the Asian Games at the Shaoxing Baseball Softball Sports Culture Center in Hangzhou, China from October 1-7, the Asian Baseball Professional Championship from November 16-19 at the Tokyo Dome, and the Asian Baseball Championship from December 3-9 in Taiwan at the Taipei Dome are all international senior events that provide World Baseball Rankings points before the end of 2023.
The Confederación del Caribe de Béisbol, which is part of the World Baseball Softball Confederation Americas sector, will host the Fifth Caribbean Cup and has yet to announce the countries that are participating in the event.
The field for the Premier 12 tournament will be finalized following the next rankings release on December 31 for the top 12 teams in the world, and will be scheduled after the 2024 seasons in Major League Baseball, Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, Chinese Professional Baseball League, Nippon Professional Baseball, and the Korean Baseball Organization.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic pausing the rankings on March 18, 2020, the international baseball calendar cycle did not label a full set of international age group events that delayed the release and set back of the World Rankings from the 2020 Olympics moving to 2021 and 2021 World Baseball Classic being rescheduled for 2023.
The rankings were updated twice in 2021, on June 28, 2021 and August 11, 2021 after the Olympics, because of the WBSC Olympic Qualifiers in the Americas and final Olympic Qualifier being held in June 2021, with the Olympics following in July and early August.
The World Baseball Rankings calendar cycle will only change once between Dec. 31, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2024, following the Premier 12.