The World Baseball Classic has seen two teams reign supreme, Japan and the Dominican Republic. Coming off two disappointing performances in the first two editions of the WBC, manager Moises Alou got the monkey off their back with a 3-1 victory over Puerto Rico in the 2013 Final. Even with a tough pool, the Dominicans are one of the favored teams to come out of Pool C in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
In Pool C, the Dominican Republic is joined by the United States, Canada and Colombia. While Pool C is difficult, it is top heavy with the baseball powers United States and Dominican Republic as the main teams. This will be a great pool, with the marquee matchup against the United States on March, 11 at 6:30 PM EST. These two last faced off in 2013, when the Dominicans came away with a 3-1 victory over the United States. This Dominican team is just as loaded with Major League talent like in years past, so once again they are a favorite to repeat as World Baseball Classic champions.
When you think of the Dominican Republic, one thought comes to mind, their roster is a collection MLB premier players. The Dominican Republic has more players in MLB than any other nation and a big reason why there are many key players on this roster. When you look at the of pitchers, you see names like Dellin Betances and Johnny Cueto, to name a few. The pitching for the Dominican Republic will be one reason why they could repeat as champions.
Another key player is Texas Rangers third basemen Adrian Beltre. Beltre is slated to possibly miss the start of the WBC due to a calf strain. If Beltre is unable to play in the WBC, then Moises Alou can turn to Orioles third baseman Manny Machado to be another key player.
Offensively, this team will score runs. With the likes of Jose Bautista, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, the Dominican Republic could be one of the highest scoring teams in this tournament. The mix of power bats in the infield and outfield, make the Dominican Republic one of the odds on favorites to repeat. At the plate they look to be solid, however, the big question will be in the infield where they possess some aging stars. Five of their seven infielders are age-30 or above.
It is hard to believe there would be any underrated players on a loaded roster. One player to keep your eye on is infielder Jonathan Villar. The 25 year-old Villar doesn't seem to get the recognition he could get with his solid play for Milwaukee. Villar lead the league in stolen bases last season, snagging an impressive 62 bags for the Brewers. He does possess some solid power for a shortstop, with 29 homeruns and 109 runs batted in his three big league seasons. Villar could step up and help lead this Dominican team to their second WBC championship.
Pitchers: Dellin Betances, Santiago Casilla, Alex Colome, Johnny Cueto, Samuel Deduno, Jumbo Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Martinez, Hector Neris, Wily Peralta, Hansel Robles, Fernando Rodney, Enny Romero, Edinson Volquez, Fernando Abad, Bartolo Colon, Edgar Garcia, Ivan Nova, Alex Reyes (injured - Tommy John surgery), Bryan Rodriguez, Luis Severino, Cesar Valdez
Catchers: Welington Castillo, Alberto Rosario
Infielders: Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Carlos Santana, Jonathan Villar
Outfielders: Jose Bautista, Nelson Cruz, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Mel Rojas Jr.
Let's not kid ourselves, this team is one of the odds on favorites to win the championship this year, based off their success at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. They are fielding around the same, if not better team than the one that won it all just four years ago. It will not be an easy ride though, with the super-talented Americans in the same pool. If they can stay healthy and avoid the upset, you can expect the Dominican Republic to be celebrating another World Baseball Classic championship.