World Baseball Classic 2023 predictions from the experts

The 2023 World Baseball Classic kicks off Tuesday night, with 20 international teams set to battle it out over the next two weeks.

When all is said and done, which team will be celebrating on the field at Depot Park on March 21? Which player will cement his legacy by winning the Player of the Tournament award?

Only time will tell, but for now, MLB.com has enlisted a panel of experts to make their predictions on what’s in store for this classic.

Semi-final 1: Dominican Republic over Italy
Semi-final 2: United States over Japan
championship: United States over the Dominican Republic
best player: Tria Turner (USA)

A good pitch won’t beat a good hit in this world baseball classic. Japan and the Dominican Republic have the best teams on the field – and Roque Sasaki in particular is the most excited player to watch in this entire tournament – but the USA squad will outpace both. And Trea Turner will be the catalyst for everything… That’s why he’s the best player of my life. The US-DR Championship can field two of the best top-down lineups ever, and although the Dominican team has a deeper staff, in one game winner-takes-all Mike Trout & Co. them and repeat as WBC champions. Bold prediction: Italy will be Israel this year and make a surprise run before they are knocked out against the big boys in the semi-finals. They’re better than you think, with a lot of big league talent on that list.

Semi-final 1: Dominican Republic over Korea
Semi-final 2: Venezuela over Japan
championship: Venezuela over the Dominican Republic
best player: Ronald Acuña Jr. (Venezuela)

While Japan, the United States and the Dominican Republic attract a lot of attention, Venezuela may be the best team no one talks about, especially now that Ronald Acuña Jr. joins the list. Now 100% healthy after returning from his 2021 ACL tear last season, Acuña is looking to re-establish himself as a perennial MVP candidate and could start taking hardware in this year’s Classic. Acuña leads a rich lineup that could also include Jose Altuve, Salvador Perez, Gleyber Torres, Luis Arraez, and World Baseball Classic veteran Miguel Cabrera, who is entering the final season of his illustrious career. The Venezuelans also have depth on the pitching side – Pablo Lopez, Martin Perez, Jesus Lozardo, Eduardo Rodriguez and Luis Garcia all have extensive starting experience, and teammates Ranger Suarez and Jose Alvarado showed their mettle in the 2022 postseason. It won’t be an easy road for the Venezuelan team, who are in a group with Republic and Puerto Rico and may have to play the United States early in the quarter-finals, but this team has the talent to win it all.

Peña already owns the ALCS and World Series MVP, and you can expect his postseason accomplishments to continue to multiply. This tournament is going to be a lot of fun to watch, and I’m really excited to see each of these teams. I could see Puerto Rico, Venezuela, or Mexico doing my choices on both sides of Pools C and D wrong, and on the other side, I could see Korea or Holland doing it — or Which team, truly. I expect the Dominican Republic team to dominate, and there have been many options for a potential MVP, which speaks to that depth. This will be the best WBC ever and it looks like we have at least three great teams on our hands with Dominican Republic, USA and Samurai Japan. here we are.

Semi-final 1: Dominican Republic over the Netherlands
Semi-final 2: United States over Japan
championship: Dominican Republic on the United States
best player: Julio Rodriguez (Dominican Republic)

Many of the teams in this year’s tournament are suffering from glaring weaknesses. Maybe you don’t have enough wicket, maybe it’s a poor defense, maybe you don’t have enough professional batsmen. The DR team has none of these problems. They’ve got a Cy Young winner leading their crew, they’ve got a field and field fit for an All-Star team, and they’ve got an arena full of World Series-winning guns. Even the 42-year-old GM still strikes fear into the mind of a pitcher when he steps into the batter’s box.

Holland is my pick to make some noise this year. They have a talented team, great coaching and a good mix of veterans who have done well in past classics. Not sure they have enough promotions to outpace the strong Dominican lineup. The USA team’s offense matches well with the DR, but like the Dutch, their throwing depth can be an issue. Juan Soto said the Dominican Republic team is a dream team, and a dream team doesn’t usually lose.

Semi-final 1: Dominican Republic over Cuba
Semi-final 2: Japan over Venezuela
championship: Japan over the Dominican Republic
best player: Shuhei Ohtani (Japan)

Even without Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Dominican Republic looks like a powerhouse. Did you see this line up? And did I mention they also have National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara? I can easily see them win their second title in the history of the event. But then you also have the champion, the United States, with a team that is arguably better than it was in 2017. Venezuela looks like a strong team. Mexico may be the dark horse in the Classic, and Puerto Rico is set to be after failing to win the last tournament. But what do they have in common? They play on the same side of the bow. This is the main reason why I lean towards Japan. They have the talent and experience in international events, and they have Shuhei Ohtani, who never misses an opportunity to start sending balls to the moon in preparation for the event. Japan will win its third title in the World Baseball Classic by defeating the Dominican Republic in an impressive game.

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Semi-final 1: Dominican Republic over Korea
Semi-final 2: Japan over the USA
championship: Japan over the Dominican Republic
best player: Rocky Sasaki (Japan)

There are, in my opinion, three first-class teams in this tournament. But since America’s start lags so much later than Japan and the Dominican Republic, it’s very easy for me to get to a final pair, and who wouldn’t like to see the “best show in the start” (Japan) against “Possibly the best lineup ever(Dominicans)? I’m going with Japan simply because I think there’s a lot of high-level non-MLB talent out there that American fans don’t know about. Sure, focus on Yu Darvish, Shohei Ohtani, and Lars Nootbaar. But I’m really excited to see Munetaka Murakami (56 homers). Last year), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (back-to-back winner of Japan’s highest shooting award) and, mostly, Sasaki, who is only 21 years old, who threw a perfect 19-hit game last year. It’s nice to take the championship here.

Semi-final 1: Japan over Venezuela
Semi-final 2: Dominican Republic over Korea
championship: Japan over the Dominican Republic
best player: Munetaka Murakami (Japan)

Shohei Ohtani warned us when he said he wasn’t even the best player in Samurai Japan. While you probably don’t believe him (we certainly don’t), this should tell you a lot about how deep this team is, with sluggers Munetaka Murakami and growers Ruki Sasaki and Yoshinobu Yamamoto leading the way alongside Ohtani. Take all that talent in, plus the fact that they’ve trained together for far longer than other superpowers like Team USA and the Dominican Republic, and there’s my favorite to win the Classic for the third time. As for the upset, all of these league starters on Team Venezuela will carry Ronald Acuna Jr. and company to the semifinals after dispatching Team USA during their quarterfinal single-elimination match in Miami.

Semi-final 1: Mexico over Korea
Semi-final 2: Japan over the USA
championship: Japan over Mexico
best player: Shuhei Ohtani (Japan)

Will I soon regret not picking the USA or the Dominican Republic – arguably the two best teams in the tournament – even for the championship game? Maybe, or maybe even most likely. But it’s fun to go a little under the radar. The Mexico roster is probably stronger than you think, led by a rotation at first that looks, frankly, better than a somewhat depleted American selection. But speaking of pitching, no one can match the two elite arms of Team Japan. That includes Ohtani, who seems destined to make his mark in the World Baseball Classic and bring his country its third championship in five attempts.

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Semi-final 1: Korea over Mexico
Semi-final 2: Dominican Republic over Japan
championship: Dominican Republic over Korea
best player: Rafael Devers (Dominican Republic)

I’m optimistic about Mexico, whose list is somewhat overlookable with the star power of the Dominican Republic, the United States and Japan. The starting rotation that includes Julio Urias, Jose Urquidi and Taiwan Walker is formidable. Losing Alejandro Kirk hurts, but I still think they had enough offense and a few punches to go the distance. However, the Dominican Republic, despite injuries to names like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and others (and the delayed availability of Juan Soto), has a lot of talent to lose, even against the giant United States squad. With her own talent somewhat under the radar, Korea makes it to the final, but DR won’t be denied and wins her second WBC title in the last three tournaments.

Semi-final 1: Korea over the Dominican Republic
Semi-final 2: Japan over the USA
championship: Korea over Japan
best player: Chang-Mo Ko

Top 4 teams (you can make the case for 6 to 8) are so overpowering, so loaded, and so incredibly talented at every position, it’s almost impossible to choose between them. Do you like the Dominican Republic lineup that could see them reach nearly 800 again? How about the United States with potential All-Diamond Hall of Famers? In the end, though, I think our final game will feature the two more balanced teams. Japan isn’t just for Shohei Ohtani – what more can we say about him? —but they do have superstar third basemen in Munetaka Murakami (56 home runs last season), young star Roki Sasaki, and back-to-back winner Sawamura Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Korea matches well with future MLB superstar Jung-Hoo Lee in the outfield, dynamite defense in the middle with Tommy Edman and Ha-Seong Kim and catcher Euiji Yang, and possibly the MVP of the tournament. If Korea and Japan play 10 times, Japan may win 7 times, but in this one match winner-takes-all event, I give it to Korea by the slightest margin. After failing to escape the first round in the past two tournaments, the country will play with a chip on its shoulder and may surprise the world with its performance.

semi-final 1: the United States of America over Cuba
semi-final 2: Dominican Republic over Japan
championship: Dominican Republic on the United States of America
best player: Manny Machado (DR)

There are some teams stacked on the WBC field, but none quite as stacked as the Dominican Republic. Machado must still be wondering how Adam Jones stole him home in the 2017 WBC, but this time around he did enough to lead his team to the title, earning MVP honors in the process.

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