World Baseball Classic Champion Bets

I've already shared my picks on the World Baseball Classic pool play and who I think will qualify, now we need to start thinking about who will actually win this thing. I think four teams have a realistic chance to win but we can break it down a bit and see which of the favorites is the best bet for actually winning. This should be a fun tournament that is a little more entertaining than the normal type of Spring Training baseball we get currently.

The biggest favorite in the tournament is the Dominican Republic. In terms of guys you've heard of, they have Gary Sanchez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Wander Franco, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Manny Machado, Julio Rodriguez, and Juan Soto. There are others too, but those were the guys that I chose. I picked Cano and Cruz because I think it is kind of comical that they are on the team. Cruz is still playing at a high level, but Cano... well, he hasn't been relevant in years. I do wonder if they will have the pitching to get them to victory though. Sandy Alcantara might be pitching in his most meaningful games ever in this tournament - will he do well or will he crack? Cristian Javier will have had a short offseason after the Astros championship run. And, Johnny Cueto can be very good, but he also can be a disaster. I don't think I want to back them even with arguably the best lineup in the tournament.

The United States is the second favorite and they have a +275 listing for their odds. Their pitching staff isn't something I have a ton of confidence in. Lance Lynn, Merrill Kelly, and Miles Mikolas have made me a ton of money over the past few seasons, but I'm not sure I would be very confident in any of them to win a championship for them. Kyle Freeland is on the team too and he hasn't been good in years. Their infield can battle the Dominican for best in the tournament with Tim Anderson, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Trea Turner, and Pete Alonso. Anderson and Turner should do a great job of contact hitting, but the other guys will need to avoid strikeouts. Their outfield of Mookie Betts, Kyle Schwarber, and Mike Trout can definitely produce. The big key here is will they be able to get production at key moments.

The third favorite in this one is Japan. They are the last of teams that have under 10:1 odds listed currently. I have to assume it is mostly due to their two pitchers. With Yu Darvish and Shohei Othani on the mound for games, I think they have a shot to at least make it to the championship. Aside from them their players are largely comprised of players that are not in the major leagues. This still could be a good opportunity for them as they are more likely to play to contact rather than power that you'd expect from some of the Dominican and USA players. At +300 I think there is some value in them to win the championship.

My long shot here is Puerto Rico. They are another team that I don't think has a great pitching staff, but could make a difference. They have Marcus Stroman who is likely to be their ace. Their other pitchers need to figure something out though as many have flaws that are exploitable. Take a guy like Jose Berrios - he can be a very good pitcher, but he also can be rocked. I suppose you can say the same about any pitcher, but with Berrios it seems more common than the average pitcher. Still, I think it is possible for them to at least make a bit of noise. I'll put a small sprinkle on them to win at +1100.

The most complete team in this is the Dominican. I couldn't talk anyone off of them to win the entire thing. As square as it sounds, they probably are the best bet. I do like Japan to win though as well due to their pitching and their team being more of a contact hitting team. I'm going to grab them at +300 and the aforementioned Puerto Rico sprinkle. I love the US squad but I don't have faith in those pitchers to get the job done.

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