Asian Baseball Power Rankings, January 2009: The Eve of a Classic

Joe Nixon@@thejosephhCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2017

The following is a ranking of the top ten national teams of the Baseball Federation of Asia. Rankings are based on performance at the World Baseball Classic level, as well as performance at the Olympic, Asian, and South East Asian games.


1) Korea

Korea won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They are hot and looking for further glory at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.


2) Japan

While they struggled at the Olympics, they are 2006 World Baseball Classic Champions. The 2009 World Baseball Classic “Samurai Japan” squad will be missing many key players such as New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui and several players from the Chunichi Dragons.


3) Chinese Taipei

Routinely beats China and those below them on the table. This team won the Gold Medal at the 2006 Asia Games.


4) China

The positioning of a Chinese League team at the 2008 Konami Cup is a good step forward, though China’s status as a perennial also-ran in East Asian Baseball competitions is unlikely to change. With the Olympics now over, support for the Chinese team may also diminish.


5) Thailand

Winners of the Gold Medal in baseball at the 2007 South East Asia Games and beat the Philippines at the 2006 Asia Games. Thailand earned its victory over the Philippines in dramatic fashion. While the Philippines took an early lead, Thailand battled back to win 7-1. How could Thailand take it to the next level? If Johnny Damon of the New York Yankees suited upfor his mother's country. Though that is less likely than Eric Karros coming out of retirement playing and for Greece.


6) Philippines

Baseball has a deeper tradition in the Philippines than most other Asian countries. As late as the 1960s, thousands backed Jose Rizal Stadium to see baseball games. Sadly, this tradition has led to little recent success on the baseball diamond. While Korea vs. Japan is likely to be the definitive Asian baseball rivalry for years to come, the rivalry between the Philippines and Thailand is also growing.

The Philippines won the Gold at the 2005 South East Asia Games. If the Philippines could draw on Filipino-American talent such as Geno Espineli of the San Francisco Giants (who recently played for the U.S Olympic Team), they could easily catapult several places in the rankings.


7) Pakistan

Participated in Beijing Olympic Baseball qualifying. The top Pakistani cricket bowlers routinely bowl over 100 mph and sometimes boast of wanting to face the New York Yankees. If more Pakistanis switched to baseball, this could be an emerging power. Pakistan defeated Thailand on 2-0 on Nov. 28, 2007.


8) Cambodia

Supported by MLB initiative and support of Cambodian immigrant community in the U.S. means this program is one to watch. Baseball, or "Throw Ball," as it is known in Cambodia, is a growing youth sport in the country.


9) Hong Kong

Participated in Beijing Olympic Baseball Qualifying, though it did not win a game.


10) Guam

Previously participated in Olympic Baseball Qualifying, though did not participate in the Beijing qualifiers.