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World Baseball Classic Preview: Team USA


The fourth installment of the World Baseball Classic is scheduled for March 2017, and teams all around the world are starting to take shape. Team USA will send what is looking like their best group of guys yet into the tournament, with hopes of finally winning gold in their own national pastime.

In the three previous installments of the tournament, the United States finished eighth, fourth, and sixth in 2006, 2009, and 2013 respectively. They’ve played to a 10-10 with 111 runs scored and 93 runs given up. With legendary manager Jim Leyland and general manager Joe Torre in charge of bringing the best talent in the majors to one dugout, Team USA is poised to make a run at the gold in 2017.

Starting Pitching

Max Scherzer; The reigning NL Cy Young winner was the first to commit to the team, and will undoubtedly be their most prized possession on the mound throughout the tournament. A four-time All-Star and a two-time Cy Young winner, Scherzer has been one of the most dominant starters in baseball since 2012.

2016 Season Statistics (Washington Nationals): 20*-7, 284 K*, 2.96 ERA, 0.968 WHIP* (*  = league leader)

Chris Archer; The ace of the Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer, will join Scherzer on Team USA’s pitching squad. Archer was considered to have a shot at the Cy Young award this past season after an All-Star selection in 2015 but put together a subpar 2016. His major league-leading 19 losses was a product of poor run support, but he showed that he is still among the top pitchers in the league with a strong second half to finish the season.

2016 Season Statistics (Tampa Bay Rays): 9-19*, 233 K, 4.02 ERA, 1.242 WHIP

Marcus Stroman; Like Archer, Marcus Stroman is a young, hard-throwing starter with the potential to emerge as one of the game’s best pitchers. Stroman spent most of 2015 recovering from ACL surgery, so he will look to the WBC to bounce back from a sub-par 2016 and get ready for the 2017 season.

2016 Season Statistics (Toronto Blue Jays): 9-10, 166 K, 4.37 ERA, 1.289 WHIP

Danny Duffy; The 28-year-old emerged as the Kansas City Royals’ ace after moving from the bullpen in May and went on to set career highs across the board in 2016. He provides flexibility for Jim Leyland, who can use him to start a game or to come in and give three or four innings late in the game.

2016 Season Statistics (Kansas City Royals): 12-3, 188 K, 3.51 ERA, 1.141 WHIP

Relief Pitching

Andrew Miller; Team USA will have one of the best relief pitchers in baseball in Andrew Miller. He’s wasting no time getting back to it after an absolute dominant postseason performance. In 19 ⅓ innings, Miller struck out 30 batters, a postseason record, and worked to a 1.40 ERA. He won the Esurance MLB/This Year in Baseball Award for Best Postseason by a Major Leaguer.

2016 Season Statistics (New York Yankees/Cleveland Indians): 10-1, 12 SV, 123 K, 1.45 ERA, 0.686 WHIP

Luke Gregerson; A returning member of the 2013 team, Luke Gregerson will pitch out of the bullpen once again for Team USA. The 32-year-old pitched two scoreless innings in the 2013 Classic.

2016 Season Statistics (Houston Astros): 4-3, 15 SV, 67 K, 3.28 ERA, 0.971 WHIP

[Milkins]

Mychal Givens; The young reliever for the Baltimore Orioles will build off of his first full season in the majors when he takes the mound for Team USA in March. Givens made 66 appearances for the Orioles in 2016, as well as a scoreless 2 ⅓ inning performance in the AL Wild Card Game.

2016 Season Statistics (Baltimore Orioles): 8-2, 96 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.272 WHIP

Catcher

Buster Posey; One of the faces of baseball, Buster Posey, will split time behind the plate in this year’s Classic. The four-time All-Star and three-time World Series Champ brings a huge bat to the middle of Team USA’s lineup.

2016 Season Statistics (San Fransisco Giants): .288 AVG, 14 HR, 80 RBI, 82 R

Jonathan Lucroy; Another WBC veteran, Jonathan Lucroy was a member of the 2013 squad where he went 2-5 with a RBI in three games. He has since established himself as a top catcher, with two All-Star selections in 2014 and 2016.

2016 Season Statistics (Milwaukee Brewers/Texas Rangers): .292 AVG, 24 HR, 81 RBI, 67 R

First Base

Paul Goldschmidt; Goldy will man first base for Team USA and adds a huge boost to their offense. One of the best hitters in all of baseball, Goldschmidt has been a perennial All-Star since 2013. He finished just short of an MVP award in 2013 after leading the league in home runs and RBI.

2016 Season Statistics (Arizona Diamondbacks): .297 AVG, 24 HR, 95 RBI, 106 R, 32 SB

Eric Hosmer; The starting first baseman for the squad in 2013 will be joining the team once again, this time in a backup role. Hosmer is coming off his best season, in which he earned his first All-Star selection. He went on to be named MVP of the All-Star Game in San Diego.

2016 Season Statistics (Kansas City Royals): .266, 25 HR, 104 RBI, 80 R

Second Base

Ian Kinsler; Manning second will be the sure-handed Ian Kinsler. He has been among the game’s top second basemen for almost a decade. Kinsler added a Gold Glove to his trophy case in 2016.

2016 Season Statistics (Detroit Tigers): .288 AVG, 28 HR, 83 RBI, 117 R

Daniel Murphy; While he may see some time at second, Daniel Murphy’s bat will undoubtedly be in Team USA’s lineup one way or another. His .347 batting average was just .001 point away from best in baseball, making him the likely DH for the squad.

2016 Season Statistics (Washington Nationals): .347 AVG, 25 HR, 104 RBI, 88 R

Shortstop

Brandon Crawford; The slick fielding Brandon Crawford will command the infield for the Americans. The San Francisco Giants’ shortstop earned Gold Glove honors the past two seasons and had his best year at the plate in 2016.

2016 Season Statistics (San Francisco Giants): .275 AVG, 12 HR, 84 RBI, 67 R

Third Base

Nolan Arenado; Rounding out the top-of-the-line infield is Colorado Rockies’ third baseman, Nolan Arenado. He adds four Gold Gloves to the party, earning one in every season he’s played and was one of the NL’s best hitters the past two seasons. Expect Arenado to slot in at the heart of Team USA’s order.

2016 Season Statistics (Colorado Rockies): .294 AVG, 41 HR*, 133 RBI*, 116 R

Outfield

Adam Jones; Playing in his second WBC, the five-time All-Star will be their starting center fielder when the tournament begins. Jones has averaged 26 homers over the last eight seasons, while amassing four Gold Glove awards in center.

2016 Season Statistics (Baltimore Orioles): .265 AVG, 29 HR, 83 RBI, 86 R

Andrew McCutchen; Cutch will likely be playing right field for Team USA, as Jones is the much better defensive option in center. McCutchen’s bat has earned him four Silver Sluggers, making him a valuable asset to their offense. He’s coming off of his worst year, but that should only make him more eager to hit the field in March.

2016 Season Statistics (Pittsburgh Pirates): .256 AVG, 24 HR, 79 RBI, 81 R

Christian Yelich; In left will be the Miami Marlins’ young star, Christian Yelich. The 25-year-old has been making a name for himself since his debut in 2013 with his consistency at the plate. The .293 lifetime hitter posted a career high in homers and RBI with 21 and 98, respectively.

2016 Season Statistics (Miami Marlins): .298 AVG, 21 HR, 98 RBI, 78 R

Jim Leyland’s squad is shaping up to be the best national team we’ve ever seen, and it isn’t even close. The amount of star power already committed is astounding, and is somewhat of a shock considering the amount of declines that have plagued the World Baseball Classic in its first three iterations.

Combined, the team has 36 All-Star selections, 18 Gold Gloves, and seven World Series rings. They’ll have their eyes set on winning gold when the 2017 edition of the World Baseball Classic begins on March 6th.
The United States begin play on March 10th against Colombia. They were placed in Pool C where they will face off against Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Canada at Marlins Park in Miami.


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Ryne Milkins
Ryne is a senior at SUNY New Paltz, studying public relations. He's been a baseball writer for two years, specializing in the New York Yankees and the World Baseball Classic. Don't hesitate in contacting Ryne to discuss baseball at any time!

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