2013 WBC: Championship Preview

World-Baseball-Classic1There is only really one way to describe the 2013 World Baseball Classic and that is simply unpredictable. It has been the overwhelming theme this year as teams have been eliminated early that were never supposed to be sitting on the outside. Teams have also won when they were never expected to do anything in the tournament. The tournament has seen twists around every corner with great plays and great stories at every turn. The Classic has been just that and more than ever will topple the baseball world once again. In the first two tournaments the Japanese would show that the USA was not the dominant baseball nation. They would open the eyes of many in showing that great baseball can be played outside of the Western Hemisphere. The Japanese would change the minds of many in the first two tournaments and yet again the WBC would change the minds of many. With so many seeing USA and Japan as the two super powers there was one area trying to show that they belong among the best of the best. The Caribbean is an area that simply pumps out superstars to the MLB and this tournament was their chance to show that they are the true power in the MLB. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic would do their part to show the strength of the area. They would go through everyone to earn their spot in the finals although they had varying difficulties to get there. Either way this tournament ends the Caribbean is flexing its muscle and will see a champion. The only thing left is to determine who that champion will be as the powerhouse Dominicans take on the surprising Puerto Rico.

 

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was not supposed to be here especially for a country whose baseball reputation had been taking hits as of late. Puerto Rico was regularly considered one of the best baseball producers in the world with plenty of MLB stars. They would still produce some very good talent but their status as one of the best baseball countries began to fall short. This is the reason that they were considered the third best team in Pool C behind two teams with the best rosters in the tournament. The Puerto Ricans would not care where a lot of people had them ranked in the tournament though as they were able to surprise everyone in pool play. They would easily beat Spain and then shock the tournament by beating Venezuela and after losing to the Dominican would move on to the second round. In Pool 2 they would continue their great run eliminating Italy and then the USA to earn a spot in the Semi-Finals. They would have a tough task ahead of them though as they would have to take on the two-time defending champions in Japan to earn a spot in the finals. They would be led by a breakout game by Alex Rios who hit a two-run HR to lead Puerto Rico to the win eliminating the defending champions and guaranteeing a new champion. The Puerto Ricans are not necessarily the most talented team as they are a team full of good but not great players. Even with that type of roster the Puerto Ricans are finding ways to win games. They do not have overpowering pitching or a lot of offence but when a team can just flat-out win games by putting everything together they immediately become dangerous. Puerto Rico will look to take this attitude to the finals and continue their surprise run by finding a way to win the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

 

Storyline:
The Forgotten Team
– Throughout the tournament the Puerto Ricans have been overshadowed by the roster makeup of their opponents as they have been overlooked time and time again but have continued to win

Player to Watch:
Yadier Molina, C
– He is playing great baseball right now hitting .304 with a stolen base but his best play has come behind the plate where he has controlled games and has essentially been the driving force behind the defence for the Puerto Ricans

How do they Win
Lean on the Veterans
– Puerto Rico has plenty of veteran players that have been in situations like this and they will need to be on top of their game to calm the team down and provide that solid foundation that can lead them to a win

 

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic are a very different team than the Puerto Ricans as they began the tournament as favorites. The Dominicans had arguably the best roster in the tournament as they would put together an all-star team. The scariest part was that the Dominicans didn’t even get all of their best players from the MLB. The Dominicans would be the favorites to win Pool C but many would say that they would have to battle Venezuela for the top spot. They would end up running through the pool going 3-0 with very little challenges. Their closest game was against Puerto Rico which they won 4-2 to earn the top spot in the pool. They would move on to the second round where they would continue their strong tournament. They would win their first two games in the second round to earn a spot in the semi-finals and again would take on the Puerto Ricans in a game they won 2-0 to earn the top spot. The Dominicans had run through the entire tournament to the semi-finals which is what many expected them to do. In a tournament that saw upset after upset the Dominicans were the only team staying strong throughout. The semi-finals would see them take on a very scary team in the Netherlands who had upset multiple people in the tournament. They would have to make sure they did not overlook the Netherlands who had been overlooked the entire tournament. The Netherlands would come out to an early lead but they could not hold off the roster of the Dominicans for too long. The Dominican Republic would come out on top and once again earn their reputation as the best team in the tournament to make the finals. The Dominicans are full of talent and are hard to beat but they have to prevent themselves from thinking that the game is over before it even begins.

 

Storyline:
Talent Wins Out
– The Dominicans came into the tournament as one of the favorite teams with a very good roster and they proved to be the best team in the tournament coming through the unpredictability of the tournament to win every game and hope to make it a perfect tournament

Player to Watch:
Robinson Cano, 2B
– If there is one MVP of the entire tournament it has to be Cano who is hitting .556 in the tournament and has led the Dominicans at the plate and in the field as he will be an important part to a championship effort

How do they Win
Let their Talent Carry Them
– The Dominicans are just more talented all around than the Puerto Ricans and if they play the game simple they will win but if they try to do too much or think they can win just by showing up they will lose

 

Prediction:
Dominican Republic 3 – 2 Puerto Rico
– These teams have already faced off twice in the tournament so far and both times the game was close but the result was the same and it will be the same again as the game will be a tight one but the talent will win out in the end

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