The 2023 World Baseball Classic is just around the corner, and Team USA is gearing up for what promises to be a thrilling tournament. Here are five things to know about the American squad as they prepare to take on the best teams from around the globe.
1. Mike Trout leads a potent offense
Mike Trout is widely regarded as the best player in baseball today, and he’ll be leading the charge for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. The Los Angeles Angels center fielder has won three MVP awards and has established himself as a force at the plate, with a career OPS of .990. He’ll be joined by a strong supporting cast, including sluggers like Bryce Harper, Cody Bellinger, and Giancarlo Stanton.
2. The starting pitching is a question mark
While the offense should be one of the best in the tournament, the starting pitching is a bit of a question mark. Clayton Kershaw is likely to anchor the rotation, but after that, there are some uncertainties. Max Scherzer is getting up there in age and has dealt with injuries in recent years, while Justin Verlander will be 40 years old by the time the tournament rolls around. The team will likely need some younger pitchers to step up if they want to make a deep run.
3. The bullpen should be a strength
Fortunately, the bullpen should be a strength for Team USA. Led by dominant closers like Josh Hader and Liam Hendriks, the American bullpen should be able to shut down opposing teams in the late innings. The depth of the bullpen will be key, particularly in a tournament format where teams will be playing multiple games in a short amount of time.
4. The competition will be fierce
The World Baseball Classic is always a tough tournament, with many of the best players from around the world competing for their respective countries. The American team will need to be on top of their game to take home the trophy, with strong teams from Japan, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba among the main contenders. With the tournament set to take place in Japan and Taiwan, the American squad will also have to deal with the challenge of playing in hostile environments.
5. The team will need to come together quickly
Finally, Team USA will need to come together quickly if they want to succeed in the World Baseball Classic. With players coming from different teams and different backgrounds, it can be tough to build chemistry in a short amount of time. However, the American team has the talent to compete with anyone, and if they can come together and play as a cohesive unit, they have a chance to win it all in 2023.