Why the WBC will never be a big deal

Last night the United States won it’s first World Baseball Classic. We don’t yet know what the ratings were but if we look at the games leading up to the championship we should expect a 30-40% jump from 2013. Some are saying the WBC is growing in relevance and I would have to agree with that, but it will never be truly relevant for one big reason.

Unlike soccer’s World Cup or any other major international sporting competition the WBC will never be a huge deal and the biggest reason for that falls on one position on the field, the pitcher.

Most major international sports are played year round and players are always in game shape, but not pitchers in baseball. Pitchers are like fine china these days, very delicate and must be handled with kid gloves. To expect a major league pitcher to pitch his best he would need months of ramp up time, which is why the WBC is played during spring training when players are getting in to game shape. For people to really care about the WBC it would have to something that stood out from spring training and you would have to see the truly best of the best playing, not the best of what is available for loan from major league clubs.

With modern day pitchers having major pitch count limitations and not being able to go all out during spring audiences will never see the best baseball has to offer and because of that the world will never truly care about the WBC. I guess that is one reason no major network carried the english coverage of the finals last night.

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Where are the Puerto Ricans?

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By Johnmaxmena2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Preparing for the WBC 2017 tonight I began to look at the two teams who will take the field. I really hadn’t paid much attention to the backgrounds of many of the players until I noticed how many of the players from Puerto Rico are not from Puerto Rico. Shouldn’t you have to be from a country to play for that country?

Let’s look at what I am talking about. Tonight’s starting pitcher is Seht Lugo, who was born in Shreveport, LA. Likely first baseman, T.J Rivera is form Bronx, NY. Centerfield will be patrolled by Reymond Fuentes of Orlando, FL. Of the nine likely starting players one-third of them are not from Puerto Rico. By comparison all nine of the likely starters for the United States were born in the United States.

I understand that the Puerto Rican players are proud of where their family came from and am all for it, but if you were born in the U.S. what is wrong with playing for the U.S. I have a hard time believing there is not enough talent born in Puerto Rico to field and entire team.

In the end I guess no matter who wins the game tonight Americans will be winning.

Who wins the WBC!

Tonight there is a baseball game going on that actually has meaning. No, it’s not a regular season MLB game or a college baseball game. It is the finals of the World Baseball Classic 2017.

Puerto Rico and the United States will face off in a one game, winner take all, affair at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, CA with Seth Lugo and Marcus Stroman taking the hill. Sad thing is and this is merely a side note, many people will have no clue the game is being played because it can only be watched on the MLB Network. Really, we can’t get Fox or some other main stream network to carry this game? Sorry, that was just a rant I had to go on.

Who will win this battle of all-star like teams?

Being that I am an American I have to say the U.S. will win, but I know it will be a nailbiter and could easily come down to who has the arms left at the back end of the bullpen.

2017 Catcher Rankings

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By 3.26 on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
1. Jonathan Lucroy
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Buster Posey
4. Yasmani Grandal
5. Wilson Contreras
6. Welington Castillo
7. J.T. Realmuto
8. Salvador Perez
9. Evan Gattis
10. Russell Martin
11. Brian McCann
12. Kyle Schwarber
13. Stephen Vogt
14. Yadier Molina
15. Matt Wieters
16. Cameron Rupp
17. Tom Murphy
18. Travis D’Arnaud
19. Derek Norris
20. Francisco Cervelli

Bust – Buster Posey
Buster Posey is consistently over drafted strictly off of reputation and the fact that he is eligible at catcher and plays every day. Don’t get caught in this trap. Posey is starting this season as a 29 year old catcher who has been showing declining power, only 14 home runs and a slugging percentage of .434, both of which are his lowest marks since 2011. He plays in one of the least hitter friendly parks in the majors. In addition to low power numbers Buster’s batting average is has been on the decline for multiples years. Yes, he is a good player, but not worth taking him where he will end up being drafted as he will not return that value.

Breakout – Welington Castillo
I know you’re thinking, what Welington Castillo? Yes, Welington Castillo. With the move from Arizona to Baltimore Castillo will remain in a very hitter friendly park and add on his schedule the American League East’s home stadiums that include New York and Toronto, both launch sites for baseballs. He no longer will have to hit in San Francisco or San Diego or face Clayton Kershaw. Hitting around him is taking a step forward allowing him to see more quality pitching and maybe best of all the pitching in the AL East is at best leaguer average. Look for big things from Castillo and feel free to wait on him as he won’t be a catcher taken early in drafts.