The REAL World Series is back



People walk around Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Monday, March 6, 2017. The Group B first round games played by Australia, China, Cuba and Japan will start on Tuesday at the indoor stadium. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

It’s baseball worldwide, so get ready for the ride! The world baseball classic is back, so here’s how to keep track.

What is it?

The WBC is a quadrennial international baseball tournament where countries compete with each other in a fourteen-day tournament to see which nation is the true baseball station. It’s the baseball world cup. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this is the first tournament since 2017, being delayed two years. This year, it’s the biggest tournament ever, increasing from 16 total teams to 20. The same countries in the 2017 tournament are involved, plus, through a mini-tournament last September, the countries of Nicaragua, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, and Panama.

When is it?

The renowned tournament begins this Tuesday (March 7) with an 11:00 PM ET game between Team Cuba and Team Netherlands. Then, until the championship game, there will be several games a day from 5:00 AM until 11:30 PM. The championship game is scheduled for March 21 at 7:00 PM ET.

Where is it?

There are four locations for games in total: Miami, Phoenix, Taichung (Taiwan), and Tokyo (Japan). The championship game will be played in Miami.

How it’s setup

Similar to the World Cup, the tournament is organized in four different “pools”, with each of these groups containing five teams. To qualify for the second round, the best two teams (based on success in the first round) in each pool move on. Here’s how it’s divided: 

Pool A: 

  • Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)
  • Netherlands
  • Cuba
  • Italy
  • Panama

Pool B:

  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Australia
  • China
  • Czech Republic

Pool C:

  • USA
  • México
  • Colombia
  • Canada
  • Great Britain

Pool D:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Venezuela
  • Dominican Republic
  • Israel
  • Nicaragua

Team Rankings

It’s sports, and especially in baseball, anything can happen. On that note, here’s my personal ranking of all the teams to better illustrate how each country stacks up. The rankings are based on different statistics, such as:

(Hitting)— Batting average, HR, OPS, wOBA (weighted on-base average), SB 

(Pitching)— ERA, WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched), Ks, BB/9

(Defense for position players)— OAA (outs made above average), Errors

To account for the glaring diversity in worldwide players and leagues, each team will be graded using a point system based on the following (yes, Ohtani gets his own tier, enough said): 

Shohei Ohtani-14 points 

Superstar MLB player- 10 points

All-Star-esque MLB Player- 6 points

MLB player>average 3 points

MLB average player- 2 points

MLB player <average 1 point

Foreign Superstar player- 6 points

Foreign/MILB All-Star-esque player- 2 points

Foreign/MILB average veteran- 1 point



Team USA 

Points: 147

Manager: Mark DeRosa 

Top players: (CF) Mike Trout, (1B) Paul Goldschmidt, (3B) Nolan Arenado (SS) Trea Turner, (RF) Mookie Betts, (C) JT Realmuto, (SP) Miles Mikolas, (SP) Brady Singer, (RP) Devin Williams

Hitting: 98 points (1st)

Starting Rotation: 15 points (T-3rd)

Bullpen: 34 points (1st)


Team Dominican Republic 

Points: 116

Manager: Rodney Linares

Top Players: (OF) Juan Soto, (3B) Manny Machado, (OF) Julio Rodríguez, (3B/DH) Rafael Devers, (SS) Jeremy Peña, (SS) Wander Franco, (SP) Sandy Alcantara, (SP) Christian Javier, (RP) Rafael Montero

Hitting: 63 points (2nd)

Starting Rotation: 21 points (2nd)

Bullpen: 32 points (2nd)


Team Japan

Points: 86

Manager: Hideki Kuriyama

Top Players: (SP/DH) Shohei Ohtani, (3B) Munetaka Murakami, (SP) Roki Sasaki, (OF) Lars Nootbar, (SP) Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Hitting: 35 points (4th)

Starting Rotation: 31 points (1st)

Bullpen: 20 points (T-4th)

Contenders (10):


Team Venezuela

Points: 86

Manager: Omar López

Top Players: (RP) José Alvarado, (2B) Jose Altuve, (DH) Miguel Cabrera, (OF) Ronald Acuña Jr., (2B) Luis Arraez, (2B) Andrés Giménez, (SP) Pablo Lopez, (SP) Luis Garcia

Hitting: 52 points (3rd)

Starting Rotation: 14 points (5th)

Bullpen: 20 points (T-4th)


Team Puerto Rico

Points: 65

Manager: Yadier Molina

Top Players: (RP) Edwin Díaz, (RP) Alexis Díaz, (SS) Francisco Lindor, (SS) Javier Báez, (SP) Marcus Stroman, (SP) José Berríos

Hitting: 28 points (5th)

Starting Rotation: 9 points (7th)

Bullpen: 28 points (3rd)


Team Mexico

Points: 51

Manager: Benji Gil

Top Players: (OF) Randy Arozarena, (1B/DH) Rowdy Tellez, (1B) Joey Meneses (SP) Julio Urías, (SP) José Urquidy, (SP) Patrick Sandoval, (SP) Taijuan Walker, (RP) Giovanny Gallegos

Hitting: 21 points (T-8th)

Starting Rotation: 15 points (T-3rd)

Bullpen: 15 points (6th)


Team Korea

Points: 42

Manager: Lee Kang-chul

Top Players: (2B) Tommy Edman, (OF) Jung Hoo Lee, (SS) Ha-Seong Kim, (SP) Koo Chang-mo, (SP) Kwang-Hyun Kim, (RP) Woo-Suk Go, (OF) Hyun Soo Kim

Hitting: 24 points (6th)

Starting Rotation: 10 points (6th)

Bullpen: 8 points (T-8th)


Team Canada

Points: 40

Manager: Ernie Whitt 

Top Players: (1B) Freddie Freeman, (SP) Matt Brash, (SP) Cal Quantrill, (OF) Tyler O’Neill, (2B) Abraham Toro, (C) Bo Naylor, (2B) Edouard Julien

Hitting: 25 points (7th)

Starting Rotation: 8 points (T-8th)

Bullpen: 7 points (T-8th)


Team Netherlands

Points: 35

Manager: Hensley Meulens

Top Players: (3B) Xander Bogaerts, (OF) Jurickson Profar, (1B) Didi Gregorius, (2B) Jonathan Schoop, (SP) Shairon Martis, (SP) Lars Huijer, (RP) Pedro Strop, (SS) Andrelton Simmons

Hitting: 21 points (T-8th)

Starting Rotation: 8 points (T-8th)

Bullpen: 6 points (T-9th) 


Team Italy

Points: 30

Manager: Mike Piazza

Top Players: (SP) Matt Harvey, (1B) Vinnie Pasquantino, (RP) Andre Pallante, (OF) Sal Frelick, (2B) David Fletcher, (SS) Nicky Lopez, (2B) Robel García

Hitting: 16 points (10th)

Starting Rotation: 5 points (T-14th)

Bullpen: 9 points (T-7th)


Team Colombia

Points: 25

Manager: Jolbert Cabrera

Top Players: (C) Jorge Alfaro, (2B) Jordan Diaz, (3B) Gio Urshela, (OF) Harold Ramírez, (SP) José Quintana, (RP) Nabil Crismatt

Hitting: 12 points (T-12th)

Starting Rotation: 5 points (T-14th)

Bullpen: 8 points (T-8th)


Team Cuba

Points: 25

Manager: Armando Johnson

Top Players: (OF) Luis Robert, (3B) Yoán Moncada, (SP) Liván Moinelo Pita,

(2B) Andy Ibáñez, (OF) Yoenis Céspedes, (SP) Roenis Elías, (SP) Yariel Rodríguez, (OF) Yadir Drake

Hitting: 13 points (9th)

Starting Rotation: 5 points (T-14th)

Bullpen: 9 points (T-7th)


Team Israel

Points: 24

Manager: Ian Kinsler

Top Players: (C) Garrett Stubbs, (OF) Joc Pederson, (SS) Zack Gelof, (1B) Matt Mervis, (RP) Richard Bleier, (RP) Robert Stock, (RP) Adam Kolarek

Hitting: 12 points (T-12th)

Starting Rotation: 6 points (T-12th)

Bullpen: 6 points (T-9th)

Underdogs (4):


Team Great Britain

Points: 20

Manager: Drew Spencer

Top Players: (OF) Trayce Thompson, (OF) Matt Koperniak, (C) Harry Ford, (SP) Vance Worley, (RP) Ian Gibaut, (RP) Tahnaj Thomas

Hitting: 12 points (T-12th)

Starting Rotation: 2 points (T-18th)

Bullpen: 6 points (T-9th)

Team Australia

Points: 20

Manager: Dave Nilsson

Top Players: (OF) Aaron Whitefield, (C) Alex Hall, (SS) Liam Spence, (OF) Ulrich Bojarski, (SP) Kyle Golgoski, (SP) Timothy Atherton, (SP) Warwick Saupold, (RP) Jon Kennedy, (RP) Mitchell Neunborn

Hitting: 10 points (T-14th)

Starting Rotation: 6 points (T-12th)

Bullpen: 4 points (16th)


Team Taiwan

Points: 18

Manager: Yueh-Ping Lin

Top Players: (2B) Yu Chang, (3B) Li Linn, (OF) Po-Jung Wang, (2B) Tzu-Wei Lin, (OF) Chieh-Hsien Chen, (SP) Wei-Chung Wang, (SP) C.C. Lee, (SP) Chih-Wei Hu

Hitting: 12 points (T-12th)

Starting Rotation: 3 points (17th)

Bullpen: 3 points (17th)


Team Panama

Points: 17

Manager: Luis Ortiz

Top Players: (C) Christian Bethancourt, (OF) José Ramos, (2B) Rubén Tejada, (SS) Jonathan Araúz, (SP) Jaime Barría, (RP) Justin Lawrence

Hitting: 10 points (T-14th)

Starting Rotation: 2 points (T-18th)

Bullpen: 5 points (T-15th)

Long-shots (3):


Team Nicaragua

Points: 14

Manager: Sandor Guido

Top Players: (RP) Jonathan Loáisiga, (SP) JC Ramírez, (RP) Erasmo Ramírez, (2B) Alex Blandino, (3B) Cheslor Cuthbert, (OF) Sandy Bermúdez

Hitting: 5 points (19th)

Starting Rotation: 4 points (T-16th)

Bullpen: 5 points (T-15th)


Team Czech Republic

Points: 12

Manager: Pavel Chadim

Top Players: (OF) Marek Chulp, (2B) Eric Sogard, (C) Martin Cervenka, (3B) William Escala, (SP) Filip Čapka, (SP) Lukáš Ercoli, (SP) Tomáš Duffek, (SP) Martin Schneider

Hitting: 6 points (18th)

Starting Rotation: 4 points (T-16th)

Bullpen: 2 points (T-19th)


Team China

Points: 6

Manager: Dean Treanor

Top Players: (OF) Yusuke Masago, (3B) Ray Chang, (SP) Alan Carter, (RP) Zheng Chaoqun, (RP) Kwon Ju

Hitting: 3 points (20th)

Starting Rotation: 1 point (20th)

Bullpen: 2 points (T-19th)

Puerto Rico’s Carlos Correa, left, celebrates after scoring the winning run on a hit by Eddie Rosario (17) in the 11th inning of a semifinal against the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles, Monday, March 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) (AP)


This will relieve some fans, as the pitch clock and shift ban will not be a part of the WBC (meaning baseball social media fans won’t be flaming during this, phew). However, the extra inning runner on second base is still in play along with mercy rules that go as follows; If a team is leading by ten or more runs after seven innings, the game will be called, or if a team is leading by 15 or more runs after five innings, the game will be called. There are also pitch limitations for pitchers, depending on rest days and the tournament round.


The WBC started in 2006, and there have been four tournaments since (2006, 2009, 2013, 2017). Japan won the first two, with the Dominican Republic and the USA winning the next two. While the WBC is currently the most prominent international baseball tournament and the only one to feature players from Major League Baseball, it’s certainly not the first. 

Baseball has been global ever since 1904, with its unofficial introduction at the third-ever Summer Olympics; however, funny enough, there was no documentation of this event, whether that be in official Olympic records or St. Louis newspaper, questioning if the scheduled event even happened. Nonetheless, baseball in the Olympics has been on and off, most recently having a 12-year hiatus between 2008 and 2020, with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) citing the lack of the best players as the reason for dropping the sport. Baseball is expected to return to the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028, being a United States venue.

Additionally, the Baseball World Cup was a tournament founded in 1938 that was held a total of 38 times between its founding and its ending in 2011 and featured as many as 22 teams in 2009. However, not even minor leaguers were allowed to compete in this until 1998, so it’s more accurately described as its name before 1988, the Amateur World Cup.

Historic WBC Stats:

Most home runs: 7, Alfredo Despaigne (Cuba)

Most hits: 32, Frederich Cepeda (Cuba)

Most strikeouts: 23, Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japan)

Saves: 8, Fernando Rodney (Dominican Republic)

United States’ Eric Hosmer (35) celebrates with teammates after scoring on a two-run double by Andrew McCutchen during the eighth inning of a second-round World Baseball Classic baseball game against the Dominican Republic on Saturday, March 18, 2017, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) (AP)

Phillies involved

Your hometown Philadelphia Phillies are tied with Angels for the 2nd most organizational players involved in the WBC with eighteen, only behind the Cardinals’ nineteen. Some notable players to watch include newly signed Shortstop Trea Turner (USA), Left Fielder Kyle Schwarber (USA), best Catcher in baseball J.T. Realmuto (USA), Catcher Garrett Stubbs (Israel), Starting Pitcher Ranger Suarez (Venezuela), new Starting Pitcher Taijuan Walker (México), and reliever José Alvarado (Venezuela).

My prediction

My obvious favorite squad is Team USA. They racked up the most points in my points rankings due to a video game lineup, possibly the greatest in baseball history (yes, better than the 27’ Yankees). However, with the lack of starting rotation depth for the USA, I have to pick Venezuela to defeat the USA and move on to defeat Japan in the championship. Their roster has virtually no holes, ranging from superstars like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Jose Altuve to contact specialists like Luis Arráez and Andrés Giménez and even veteran Miguel Cabrera. To top it off, José Alvarado will be closing out their games as one of the best lefties in the sport. Then again, baseball will be baseball, wild and unpredictable. We’ll all just have to tune in for this rare opportunity to see every international virtuoso on arguably the biggest stage in baseball.