World Baseball Classic 2023 Preview, Teams, Rosters, Futures Predictions and Best Bets: Dominican Republic is the team to beat

USA raises the championship trophy following the 8-0 victory against Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium.
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A Bostonian with a love for stats and baseball. Using knowledge and passion to find the right bet in MLB, NBA, NFL, and more. A lover of bold sports takes and sweat-free plus-odds picks.

Welcome back to the World Baseball Classic! Founded in 2006, it’s one of the most exciting baseball events in the world that happens about every 4 years, similar to the World Cup. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the WBC to go into a hiatus when the tournament was supposed to happen in 2021. That means it’s been 6 years since the last WBC, and teams are itching to get back out there and compete. The United States of America will be looking to defend its title after its 2017 victory, but that might be hard with the teams that the Dominican Republic and Japan have put together.

World Baseball Classic 2023 Preview

The World Baseball Classic came to be when the International Olympic Committee decided to remove baseball from the Olympic games in 2005. It took less than a year for the WBC to form and have its first tournament in 2006 that featured the best 16 baseball-playing countries in the world. The tournament was a hit, and the sport of baseball grew around the globe. In the WBC’s history, there have been 3 winners in 4 tournaments. It began with Japan winning the WBC in 2006 and defending their title in 2009, then the Dominican Republic claimed the trophy in 2013 before the United States of America won their first WBC in a thrilling championship run in 2017.

World Baseball Classic 2023 Teams

The WBC is composed of 20 teams in 4 different pools. The increase in teams is new, as the MLB announced the change in 2020 to include a few more countries. We have listed each team by the pool they are in and a brief summary of their roster.

Pool A

Chinese Taipei

If you’re an MLB fan, there won’t be many names on this roster that you recognize. The most notable would be Red Sox utility player Yu Chang. The majority of the players on Chinese Taipei play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, which is a very competitive league. The team will be led by Li Ling, the reigning CPBL MVP, and Kungkuan Giljegiljaw, who led the CPBL in home runs last season. Expect offense to be their strength in the tournament.


There are some MLB players on the Netherlands team that might make you hesitate and go, “Wait, they’re Dutch?” The team is led by Xander Bogearts (who just signed an 11-year, $280 million contract with the San Diego Padres), Didi Gregorius, Jonathan Schoop, Jurickson Profar, and Andrelton Simmons. The Netherlands’ offense will be their strong point since their starting rotation is below average, but if the Dutch can get the lead, they have Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen in their bullpen. Of the 5 teams in Pool A, I expect the Netherlands to be one of the 2 teams that makes it to the second round.


Cuba is one of the younger teams in the WBC this season with a lot of unknown faces on their roster. However, they do have some MLB talent joining the team as Chicago White Sox teammates Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada headline the Cuban roster. They also have Yoenis Cespedes rejoining the team after being MIA for the last several months. Cespedes last played in the MLB in 2020, but he decided to leave the New York Mets abruptly without telling anyone which might have ended his long, and very controversial, MLB career. I anticipate for Cuba to be fighting with the Netherlands to be crowned the Pool A winner.


The Italian team could definitely be a dark horse in the WBC this year. Led by new manager and MLB-great Mike Piazza, the roster is stacked with MLB talent. In the infield, Italy has David Fletcher, Nicky Lopez and Vinnie Pasquantino. On the mound, Italy has Andre Pallante, Matt Festa and former Cy Young winner Matt Harvey. It was quite a surprise to see Harvey’s name on the roster considering the Tyler Skaggs case was just last fall, which has caused mixed feelings about the MLB veterans’ place on the team. But his grandfather was born in Italy, making him eligible to represent them in the WBC.


Panama returns to the WBC as the last team added to Pool A. They did not qualify for the WBC in 2013 or 2017, but after a long drought, they are back in the tournament. Panama does not have the MLB talent that many other teams in the tournament do which puts them at a disadvantage. However, they are in the weakest pool which gives them a fighting chance, but it’s going to be hard for them to get past the Netherlands and Cuba.

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Pool B


Japan has been consistently ranked the 2nd-best team in the WBC this year, and it’s not hard to see why. The face of the MLB, Shohei Ohtani, will be leading the charge for his home country. Joining him in the starting rotation is Padres pitcher Yu Darvish, as well as several elite arms from the Nippon Professional Baseball. On offense, newly-signed Red Sox Masataka Yoshida and Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar (eligible because of his ancestry) will play a large role in Japan’s success. Japan has incredible depth to their lineup which makes them one of the most dangerous teams in the WBC. Japan should win Pool B without much of a fight.


The strength of the Korean team will be in their offense. They have Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman and Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim up the middle to create an elite middle-infield duo. Korea also has some of the biggest hitters in KBO’s history on their roster, so while their pitching might be subpar, their offense will be scoring crooked numbers consistently. I see Korea fighting for the runner-up spot in Pool B and advancing to the next round.


If you’re looking to cheer for the underdog, you’ve likely found your team. Liam Hendriks, the most well-known Aussie who was expected to represent his country, has backed out of the WBC to treat his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which he just revealed a short time ago. His absence leaves very little MLB talent on the Australian roster, and when looking at the ages of a lot of their players, it might be a short appearance in the WBC.


China is led by Ray Chang, who is making his 4th WBC appearance in his career. The 39-year-old is returning for one more WBC, and it’s hard to blame him since he has a .324 career batting average in the tournament. But besides Chang, the Chinese roster is very, very limited. And the biggest problem is that the majority of the roster plays in China’s National Baseball League which has been suspended since 2019 due to COVID-19. Due to their inexperience and lack of playing professional baseball recently, China doesn’t pose much of a threat in Pool B.

Czech Republic

Unlike almost every other player in the WBC, the Czech Republic roster is filled with players that have day jobs. Since the Czech Republic only has an amateur league, the players are forced to have full-time jobs. Their team is made up of a salesman, firefighter, high school teacher, financial analyst and so much more. While I respect the players working full-time jobs and playing baseball in their country’s league, they are a small fish in a big sea during the WBC. Who knows, since it is March, maybe they can pull off a Cinderella story. But probably not.

Pool C

United States of America

As expected, team USA is loaded with talent. They finally get the opportunity to defend their 2017 title, and while their Championship-winning team was great, their 2023 roster is phenomenal. Just to name a few: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Pete Alonso, Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Tim Anderson and JT Realmuto. And that’s before mentioning their starting rotation and bullpen! This team might be the best United States team that has ever been put together, so expectations are to win the 2nd WBC title in as many tournaments. Anything else is a wasted effort.


Many teams in the WBC rely on their offense to carry them through the tournament, but Mexico might be one team that has pitching be its strength. In the Mexican rotation, there is Julio Urias, Patrick Sandoval, Taijuan Walker and Jose Urquidy. That is an elite 4-man rotation and one of the best in the entire WBC. They also have several big names in their lineup such as Alex Verdugo, Austin Barnes, Randy Arozarena, and the speedy Jarren Duran. There is a solid chance that Mexico finishes as the runner-up in Pool C to advance to the next round.


Colombia returns to the WBC as a much stronger team in all aspects of the game, but they’re unfortunately in Pool C, which has the USA and Mexico. It’s going to take some upsets for Colombia to have a chance at advancing to the next round, even with a decent amount of MLB talent on their roster. Their team is headlined by Harold Ramirez, Gio Urshela and Jorge Alfaro. After them, it’s a lot of young prospects in the Minor Leagues that are just beginning their professional baseball careers.


The Canadian team is led by MLB superstar Freddie Freeman. The first baseman has improved significantly since his last WBC performance, and he will be surrounded by a young group of players looking to shake up Pool C. Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill is taking some time away from the gym to participate in this tournament which is an added boost to Canada’s outfield. But there is more bad news than good for Canada, as Joey Votto, Josh Naylor and Nick Pivetta will not be able to represent their country due to injuries. Considering Pivetta was expected to be their ace, which is a whole other scary story, it could be hard for Canada to have the depth to make a run in the WBC.

Great Britain

The final team to join Pool C will be Great Britain, a country making its WBC debut. Spain was expected to win the qualifiers, but Great Britain had some magic in their British bats and wound up in Pool C. Unfortunately for them, Pool C is stacked. The team lacks MLB talent and experience at this stage, so while they were a great story to make it this far, I’d say their magic is about to run out. But motivating stuff from Great Britain!

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Pool D

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico finished as the runner-up in the WBC in 2013 and 2017. But this Puerto Rico team looks to be one of the best they’ve ever put together, and a lot of that is because of their new manager, Yadier Molina. There is no shortage of MLB talent on this roster as big names include Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Kiké Hernandez, Martin Maldonado, Christian Vasquez, Jose Berrios and Edwin Diaz. They also added Marcus Stroman to their starting rotation, which was somewhat controversial at first since Stroman represented the United States in 2017 and won the MVP award. I envision a heated battle between Puerto Rico and Venezuela for the runner-up position in Pool D.


The Venezuelan team is an excellent mix of MLB greats, current MLB stars and rising prospects. The most well-known name on the roster would be Miguel Cabrera, who has announced that the 2023 MLB season will be his last, so this WBC will be a high-stakes warmup for the year. Around the infield, Venezuela is elite. Luis Arraez, Jose Altuve, Andrés Giménez, Eugenio Suarez, Gleyber Torres and Eduardo Escobar make up arguably the best infield unit in the entire WBC. But their depth doesn’t stop there, as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Anthony Santander will be in the outfield and Eduardo Rodriguez and Pablo Lopez will likely be their 1-2 punch on the mound.

Dominican Republic

As the favorite to win the 2023 WBC, the Dominican Republic has a lot of hype and expectations to live up to. It’s pretty easy to see why they are the favorite, as one glance at their roster makes you wonder if they could ever lose. From their infield to outfield to starting rotation, the DR is elite with incredible depth. Imagine having a team so good that Rafael Devers, who just signed a 10-year, $313.5 million contract extension with the Red Sox, will be the backup. That’s absurd! Their lineup features Manny Machado, Jeremy Pena, Robinson Cano, Wander Franco, Juan Soto, Julio Rodriguez, Eloy Jimenez, and so, so much more. On the mound, Sandy Alcantara and Cristian Javier will lead the rotation. And if that wasn’t enough, their bullpen is by far the best of any team. It’s title or bust for this Dominican Republic team.


If Israel was in Pool A, they would have a fighting chance to advance to the 2nd round. Unfortunately, they’re in Pool D. They have an uphill battle against the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, so it’s very hard to see Israel advancing out of pool play. Admittedly, Israel looks much stronger this year than in the past as they have the most MLB talent in their history, and a lot of that is because of how adamant Joc Pederson was about recruiting players. They do have decent MLB talent at most positions and are an above-average team, but their 1st-round draw makes it very difficult for them to move on.


The final team in Pool D is a team that failed to qualify for the WBC in 2013 and 2017. After more than a decade away from the WBC, Nicaragua is finally back. Unfortunately, their journey won’t last long. They are by far the weakest team in Pool D, but their 1st matchup is a crucial one. Nicaragua starts its WBC journey by facing Israel, which is their best chance of a win in their pool. If they can’t beat Israel, they won’t last long. Getting to this point is an accomplishment of its own, and Nicaragua should be happy with finally getting back on the world stage.

World Baseball Classic 2023 Futures Best Bets

To qualify from Pool D: Venezuela (-185)

Available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing

Pool D of the WBC is stacked with talent. While the talk of the pool is the Dominican Republic team, Venezuela should not be overlooked. I would argue that Venezuela has the best infield in the entire WBC as they have some of the best hitters that the MLB has to offer. Around the horn, Luis Arraez beat Aaron Judge for the best batting average in the American League in the 2022 season, Jose Altuve is an 8x All-Star and AL MVP and Andrés Giménez is coming off an exceptional season in which he won an All-Star nomination and Gold Glove award. And by the way, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Anthony Santander are in the outfield. Acuna Jr. is one of the few 5 tool players in the MLB and Santander launched 33 home runs last season, so Venezuela has depth at every position.

Their starting rotation is solid from their first starter to their last, and their bullpen has some of the best arms in the MLB today. Looking at their schedule, they have a tough start to pool play as they begin the tournament by facing the Dominican Republic and then Puerto Rico, but that saves Israel and Nicaragua for the end. I expect them to go 3-1 in pool play, and that should be good enough for them to move on to the next round.

World Baseball Classic 2023 winner: Dominican Republic (+210)

Available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing

This might be the most stacked team the World Baseball Classic has ever seen. From the leadoff spot to the 9-hole, this DR team has no weak links. However, they did announce that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will miss the WBC due to a knee injury that he suffered in Spring Training. Even with Vladdy out, the DR’s starting lineup could look like this: Julio Rodriguez, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Rafael Devers, Wander Franco, Teoscar Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Jeremy Pena and Gary Sanchez. The only team that I see having a chance at beating this lineup is the United States, which would be a must-see game if it happens. And while their starting lineup looks stacked, I think their pitching might be even better.

Sandy Alcantara and Cristian Javier are two of the best pitchers in the MLB right now, and they are backed up by an elite group of relievers. Bryan Abreu, Camilo Doval, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris and Gregory Soto are the core of an elite Dominican bullpen, so if the DR has a lead after the 6th inning, it will be very difficult for opposing teams to flip the script. My WBC Championship prediction is Japan against the Dominican Republic, and I believe the DR has the depth to win their second WBC title.

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