Welcome to the first World Baseball Classic since 2017! If you’re unfamiliar with the World Baseball Classic, think of it as the World Cup of baseball — except not nearly as popular or respected!
The WBC occurs every four years but was postponed in 2021 due to COVID concerns. Now, it's back to provide a chance for baseball fans (new and old) to watch some of the best in the game compete on an international stage. We are getting some serious, competitive baseball played by MLB players almost a full month before the regular season starts — WAY better than Spring Training!
The World Cup style, pool tournament will happen in four different cities in three different countries before the semifinals and championship are played in Miami, Florida. Here's a look at the full schedule for the World Baseball Classic, including a breakdown of each group.
Participants: Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, Cuba, Italy, Panama
Dates: March 8 - March 12
Location: Taichung, Taiwan
Participants: Japan, Korea, Australia, China, Czech Republic
Dates: March 9 - March 13
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Participants: USA, Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Great Britain
Dates: March 11 - March 15
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Participants: Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Dates: March 11 - March 15
Location: Miami, Florida
Date: March 15
Date: March 16
Date: March 17
Date: March 18
Date: March 19
Date: March 20
Date: March 21
The WBC consists of talent from all across the world, but over the past decade or so it has become more and more common for some of the best MLB players to participate in the international tournament for their home countries. A total of 20 nations have qualified and are divided into four pools.
Below are how the pools break down and some current MLB players that are must-watch competing in the WBC.
Chinese Taipei: Yu Chang (IF, Boston Red Sox), Tzu-Wei Lin (Former Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox infielder)
Cuba: Yoán Moncada (IF, Chicago White Sox), Luis Robert Jr. (OF, Chicago White Sox), Yoenis Cespedes (Former MLB All-Star)
Netherlands: Xander Bogaerts (IF, San Diego Padres), Jurickson Profar (OF, San Diego Padres), Jonathan Schoop (IF, Detroit Tigers)
Italy: Matt Harvey (Former MLB All-Star), Vinnie Pasquantino (1B, KC Royals), David Fletcher (IF, Los Angeles Angels)
Panama: Justin Lawrence (Colorado Rockies pitcher), Christian Bethancourt (Tampa Bay Rays catcher), Javy Guerra (Milwaukee Brewers reliever)
Japan: Shohei Ohtani (Superhero/pitcher/DH, Los Angeles Angels), Yu Darvish (P, San Diego Padres), Lars Nootbaar (OF, St. Louis Cardinal)
Korea: Tommy Edman (IF, St. Louis Cardinals), Ha-Seong Kim (OF, San Diego Padres), Kwang Hyun Kim (Current MLB free agent)
Australia: Daniel McGrath (Former Boston Red Sox pitcher)
China: Ray Chang (Former Cincinnati Reds prospect)
Czech Republic: Eric Sogard (11-year MLB veteran)
USA: Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels), Mookie Betts (OF, LA Dodgers outfielder), Jeff McNeil (IF, NY Mets), Kyle Schwarber (OF, Philadelphia Phillies), J.T. Realmuto (C, Philadelphia Phillies), Trea Turner (IF, Philadelphia Phillies), Nolan Arenado (St. Louis Cardinals infielder), Paul Goldschmidt (1B, St. Louis Cardinals), Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros), Bobby Witt Jr. (IF, KC Royals), Adam Wainwright (P, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher—recently retired)
Mexico: Julio Urías (P, LA Dodgers), Randy Arozarena (OF, Tampa Bay Rays), Alex Verdugo (OF, Boston Red Sox outfielder), Taijuan Walker (P, Philadelphia Phillies), Rowdy Tellez (1B, Milwaukee Brewers)
Colombia): José Quintana (P, NY Mets), Gio Urshela (IF, Los Angeles Angels), Nabil Crismatt (P, San Diego Padres)
Canada: Freddie Freeman (1B, LA Dodgers, Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals), Cal Quantrill (P, Cleveland Guardians), Bo Naylor (C, Cleveland Guardians)
Great Britain: Harry Ford (C, Seattle Mariners), Trayce Thompson (OF, LA Dodgers outfielder & brother of Klay Thompson), Vance Worley (Former MLB pitcher)
Puerto Rico: Francisco Lindor (IF, NY Mets), Edwin Díaz (P, NY Mets), Javier Báez (IF, Detroit Tigers), José Berríos (P, Toronto Blue Jays), Marcus Stroman (P, Chicago Cubs)
Venezuela: Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF, Atlanta Braves), Gleyber Torres (IF, New York Yankees)
Joe Altuve (IF, Houston Astros), Andrés Giménez (IF, Cleveland Guardians), Martín Pérez (P, Texas Rangers)
Dominican Republic: Manny Machado (IF, San Diego Padres), Julio Rodríguez (Seattle Mariners outfielder), Juan Soto (OF, San Diego Padres), Christian Javier (P, Houston Astros pitcher), Jeremy Pena (IF, Houston Astros)
Israel: Joc Pederson (OF, San Francisco Giants), Richard Bleier (P, Miami Marlins), Dean Kremer (P, Baltimore Orioles)
Nicaragua: Jonathan Loáisiga (P, NY Yankees), Erasmo Ramírez (P, Washington Nationals)
Yes, you can bet on the 2023 World Baseball Classic! Based on the tournament odds, there are three contenders that the sportsbooks are leaning toward as teams most likely to win:
Dominican Republic: Ahead of the first round, they're the odds favorite to win the WBC at +210. That means a $10 bet would win $21 in profit for a take-home total of $31 if they win it all.
USA: They have the second-most favorable odds to win at +260, meaning a $10 bet would win $26 in profit for a take-home total of $36 if they win it all.
Japan: Two words. Shohei Ohtani. That's all we need to know. Japan sits at +280, meaning a $10 bet would win $28 in profit for a take-home total of $38 if they win it all.
Here's a look at the full odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook. Note that the larger the number here, the less likely the outcome, so the payout is larger. More risk = more reward!