The World Baseball Classics (WBC) is happening again! It’s going to be as exciting as Olympic baseball! Even though I’m a baseball fan, I don’t really get excited about Olympic baseball, so I’m not really excited about the WBC. I started writing a long post about why I don’t think the WBC is good for baseball, but then it occurred to me that it has nothing to do with Ningin. So instead, here’s a preview and some notes about the Asian teams:
I would be shocked if they win one game. While China has their own baseball league, its still very, very early in its development. They only have three players in MLB on their roster, all of them in low-level minor leagues. Though, Kai Lui and Zhenwang Zhang got some buzz as the first players from mainland China to sign with an American team: the New York Yankees.
Chinese Taipei (Roster)
They’ll beat China, and that’s about it. While Chinese Taipei (aka Taiwan) have more of an interest in baseball overall, their baseball system isn’t nearly as developed as Korea or Japan. Don’t expect to see Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees play. The Yankees don’t really like their players playing in the WBC, and Wang just came off a serious injury last year.
Of all of the Asian teams, Japan is the most stacked. Not only are there a lot of MLB all-stars playing for Japan, but the Japanese baseball league is probably second in the world to the MLB, though a distant second, in terms of talent. They have Suzuki Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Akinori Iwamura, Kosuke Fukudome, and a bunch of MLB-ready talent. Also, they won the tournament’s inaugural season in a dramatic game against South Korea. I expect them to do well and possibly defend their title.
South Korea (Roster)
South Korea was the surprising team last year. They were undefeated—beating Japan twice—with their only loss to Japan in the Championship game. On paper, they have decent talent, second only to Japan in the Asian division. The only name that jumps out of me on their roster (not because it’s the only name that’s highlighted blue) is Shin-Soo Choo. He was a spark plug for the Cleveland Indians last season and gave me some good fantasy numbers for my leagues. For the most part, I would say Korean talent is pretty much on par with Japanese talent since a lot of Koreans play in the Japanese leagues. But Japan definitely has more stars. The 2006 team must have had a lot of chemistry or something because they completely overachieved. It wouldn’t totally shock me if they won it all this time around for the same reason.
There’s a ton of exhibition games starting 2/28. The actual tournament starts on March 5th with China facing Japan. I believe all the games will be on ESPN2 for those who can afford cable in this economic climate.
Of course, on paper, the U.S. should win. The U.S. Team is stacked with an all-star or a future hall of famer in every position. Then again, they were stacked the first time around, and Japan and Korea finished first and second, respectively. The Yankees are stacked on paper, but they never seem to win the World Series every year. That’s why they play the games!