On the strength of a studded cast of perennial All-Stars, MVP Award contenders, and some of the game's elite pitchers, manager Jim Leyland's Team USA will look to reign in Pool C of the 2017 World Baseball Classic this March.
Pool C features three teams in addition to the United States, including Team Canada, Team Columbia, and Team Dominican Republic. Their section of the tournament will begin in early March.
The National League leader in home runs since 2015, Colorado Rockies' four-time Gold Glove Award recipient and two-time All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado is one of many standout players on the roster for Team USA. Arenado has clubbed 83 long balls since the start of the 2015 season, trailing only Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners and Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles for most in the majors in the two-year span.
Tampa Bay Rays' ace right-hander Chris Archer will serve as the one of the United States starting pitchers. Since 2015, the 28-year-old Archer has whiffed 485 batters, trailing only Chris Sale (507) of the Boston Red Sox for most in the time frame. Although his 2016 campaign was rather subpar -- a 4.02 ERA in 201 and 1/3 innings -- Archer is one of the game's most exciting pitchers and will be a key piece to the squad's pitching staff.
Receiving Archer and other United States hurlers will be three-time World Series champion backstop Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants. Posey, a former Rookie Of the Year and Most Valuable Player, slashed .288/.362/.434 with fourteen home runs across 146 games and caught over 37 percent of potential base thieves in well over 1,000 innings behind the dish in 2016.
On a Houston Astros team with players such as Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correra, third baseman Alex Bregman often gets lost in the shuffle on his team, and such is the case on the WBC as well. Bregman, the Astros' first-round pick in 2015, made his debut on July 25 of this past season and hit thirteen doubles, three triples, and eight home runs down the stretch for the Astros.
Starting pitcher Tanner Roark of the Washington Nationals will be an interesting name to watch as well. Coming off a career year that saw him eclipse personal bests in starts (33), innings pitched (210), and ERA (2.84), Roark enters the 2017 campaign as a structural piece of the Nationals' sturdy pitching staff.
Pitchers: Chris Archer, Tanner Roark, Tyler Clippard, Danny Duffy, Sam Dyson, Mychal Givens, Nate Jones, Jake McGee, Andrew Miller, Pat Neshek, David Robertson, Marcus Stroman, Luke Gregerson
Catchers: Buster Posey, Jonathan Lucroy, A.J. Ellis
Infielders: Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Matt Carpenter, Brandon Crawford, Paul Goldschmidt, Eric Hosmer, Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy
Outfielders: Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich
With a dreamy roster of All-Stars and annual award winners, Team USA seems poised to have a solid performance in the upcoming tournament. Team USA will play their first game on Friday, March 10, against Team Columbia at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The expectation for Team USA is a title.