With the World Baseball Classic coming up in March, the U.S. may finally get its chance to hoist the title of world champion. This year, the team has fielded its best roster and will look to take down Japan, the two-time defending WBC champion.
The U.S. finished 3-3 overall in the 2006 WBC. The team defeated eventual champion Japan in the second round but lost games to Korea and Mexico to fail to earn a spot in the semifinals.
In 2009, the team improved by reaching the semi-finals, where it lost to the eventual-champion Japan.
So based on these trends, the U.S. is poised to earn a spot in this year’s final round and maybe even win the whole tournament.
The 2009 team featured Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy, Ted Lilly and Jeremy Guthrie in the starting rotation and bullpen comprised of Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Joel Hanrahan and J.J. Putz. The lineup consisted of some formidable names such as Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia and David Wright.
The talent level of that team was competent, but this year the U.S. is going all in.
R.A. Dickey, Ryan Vogelsong and Derek Holland lead the starting rotation with Craig Kimbrel, Chris Perez and Luke Gregerson in the bullpen. Wright and Braun will be back in the lineup, but guys like Joe Mauer, Giancarlo Stanton, Mark Teixeira and Adam Jones join the fold.
Former Yankees manager Joe Torre has come out of retirement in order to manage this team. NL Manager of the Year Davey Johnson led the squad in 2009 with Buck Martinez at the helm in 2006.
Winning the 2013 WBC would prove to the rest of the world that U.S. means business when it comes to baseball.
International players will always be part of the professional game in this country, since the sport has evolved into a business. But the nation would take great pride in seeing its countrymen capture the world title.
The game is called “America’s pastime” after all.