In the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), only 7 Major League (MLB) MVP winners will participate. This is why it is evaluated as the most prestigious and dignified competition.
Even in the big leagues, where the world’s best players are gathered, there is a difference in level. Starters and backups, starters and top players, star players and icons, and more. Of course, the ransom is also very different.
Representatives from some participating countries, such as the United States, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and the Netherlands, are playing mostly in the United States. There are also many star plays. As a result, there are teams where it is difficult to distinguish between starting and backing players, even though the final entry has been formed based on the arrangement by position. It will be quite interesting to keep an eye on the best lineups of each country in this tournament.
In the 4th tournament held in 2017, Korea met the Netherlands, who built the strongest infield team in the participating countries, in the first round. Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, and Xander Bogaerts, MLB’s top shortstops at the time, were all selected for the Dutch national team. There was also a strange competitive atmosphere between the three players trying to keep the main position. In this competition, Simmons, who has the most advanced defense, was the main shortstop, Bogatz was the third baseman, and Gregorius was the designated hitter.
The United States and the Dominican Republic, the ‘winners’ of this tournament, also have positions where it is difficult to predict who will be the starting pitcher.
First, he is the first baseman for the U.S. national team. Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals), who won the National League (NL) MVP in the 2022 season, and Pete Alonso (New York Mets), the “Polar Bear” who hit the most homers (146) in MLB in the last four seasons (2019-2022) compete. . It is difficult to distinguish superiority and inferiority in attack power. On defense, Goldschmidt has a bit more experience.
Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers), whom MLB안전놀이터.com picked as one of the three All-Star outfielders along with Lee Jung-hoo, is expected to play as an infielder before the tournament opens. He is the 2018 American League (AL) MVP and is evaluated as the best hitter along with Mike Trout.
Betts joined the Boston Red Sox as an infielder, but turned to the outfield after being unable to surpass Dustin Pedroia, who was the starting pitcher at the time. Even after he became a top player, he often played as an infielder.
In this tournament, with star players lined up in the outfield of the US national team, such as Trout, Kyle Tucker, Kyle Schwaber, and Cedrill Mullins, he is expected to go out to the infield to distribute power. It’s not that Betts was pushed out of the competition, but this is also an international competition, so it’s an operation that can be seen.
In the Dominican Republic, which is evaluated as having a stronger military power than the United States, competition in the infield is fierce. The second baseman is Kettel Marte (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Jean Segura (Miami Marlins). Although his prime has passed, team leader Robinson Cano’s main position is also second base.
Last season (2022) World Series MVP Jeremy Pena (Houston Astros), who won a 12-year long-term contract in the second year of his big league debut, Wander Franco (Tampa Bay Rays), two divine duos compete for a shortstop.
Among the pitchers who are either closers or setup men in their teams, such as Grecory Soto (Philadelphia Phillies), Camilo Doval (San Francisco Giants), and Luis Garcia (San Diego Padres), it is of interest to see who will take charge of the ninth inning.
The same goes for Korea. Big leaguers Kim Ha-seong (San Diego) and Tommy Edman (St. Louis) showed excellent infield defense in the evaluation match, but the domestic Golden Glove duo Oh Ji-hwan and Kim Hye-seong are also not far behind. In particular, Kim Hye-seong has a good sense of hitting. Na Seong-beom was the starting right fielder, who seemed to be able to take it easily, and Park Kun-woo showed good condition, making it difficult to predict.
It is an international competition where team victory is the top priority, but the pride of the players is also at stake. Internal competition is bound to be fierce.