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USA Baseball: Players with Most to Prove at World Baseball Classic

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIFebruary 25, 2013

USA Baseball: Players with Most to Prove at World Baseball Classic

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    According to Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, Team USA has announced its roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. There are five players returning from the 2009 squad that lost in the semifinals.

    The question is: Which players have the most to prove?

    From stars who had lackluster 2012 campaigns to young players with contracts to earn, there are players in need of a major statement. By making an impact on the world stage, they could go a long way toward repairing their reputations or creating better future situations for themselves.

    So, who needs to step up big at the WBC?

Heath Bell, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Position: Relief Pitcher

    Age: 35

    Experience: 9 Seasons

    2012 Season Averages

    73 GP, 63.2 IP, 4-5 W-L, 13 HLD, 19 SV, 8 BS, 5.09 ERA, 1.55 WHIP

     

    After what was nothing short of a disastrous 2012, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Heath Bell has a long way to go before repairing his reputation.

    Bell posted an ERA of 5.09 with a WHIP of 1.55. He also blew eight of his 27 save attempts and lost five of nine decisions with the Miami Marlins in 2012.

    With a strong showing at the World Baseball Classic, Bell could go a long way toward proving himself to the Diamondbacks organization.

    With a poor showing, however, Bell could provide further evidence that he is no longer a capable MLB pitcher.

    Keep in mind that he is 35.

R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Age: 38

    Experience: 10 Seasons

    2012 Season Statistics

    233.2 IP, 20-6 W-L, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 230 SO, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .226 BAA

     

    In 2012, R.A. Dickey was a dominant force and eventually won the NL Cy Young Award.

    Dickey went 20-6, threw five complete games and tossed three shutouts. He finished with an ERA of 2.73 and struck out 230 batters.

    With his knuckleball working to full effect, Dickey went down as the best NL pitcher.

    During the offseason, however, the New York Mets traded Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays (via ESPN New York).

    With players traditionally struggling to translate their games from the National League to the AL, Dickey could be in store for failure. In a power-heavy AL East, that threat is significantly larger—especially at age 38.

    At the World Baseball Classic, Dickey could go a long way toward proving that he was worth the $25 million contract he received from Toronto.

Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

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    Position: Catcher

    Age: 29

    Experience: 9 Seasons

    2012 MLB Season Statistics

    .319/.416/.446, 174 H, 81 R, 10 HR, 85 RBI

     

    With the rise of players such as Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, it appears as if we've forgotten about Joe Mauer.

    You know, the player who may just be the best catcher of our generation.

    There is no denying that Posey has earned his place as the reigning NL MVP. There is also no argument to be made on behalf of Posey not being the top catcher in the game.

    With that being said, don't think that Mauer isn't out to make an impact at the World Baseball Classic.

    Mauer hit .319 during the 2012-13 season. He also picked up 85 RBI and proved that he remains one of the position's elite.

    Even still, we seem to pass over Mauer as a star of the past—at the WBC, he can prove that notion false.

Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Position: Shortstop

    Age: 34

    Experience: 13 Seasons

    2012 MLB Season Statistics

    .250/.316/.427, 102 R, 23 HR, 68 RBI, 30 SB

     

    At 34, many have begun to wonder how much longer Jimmy Rollins has as one of the MLB's elite shortstops.

    After hitting .250 in 2012, that concern level elevated—you know, for those who missed out on the rest of his play.

    Rollins scored 102 runs, hit 23 home runs, drove in 68 RBI and stole 30 bases. He also posted a career-worst fielding percentage of .978.

    That number offers perspective as to how many balls he fields and how efficient he is at his position.

    Unfortunately, Rollins' run could be coming to a close. He is 34 years old, in his 13th season and playing for a team with lessened expectations.

    Performing well here could create the momentum necessary for the Phillies to return to glory.

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

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    Position: Right Field

    Age: 23

    Experience: 3 Seasons

    2012 Season Statistics

    .290/.361/.608, 75 R, 30 2B, 37 HR, 86 RBI

     

    According to Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post, Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the head with a fastball during a simulation game.

    Luckily, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Stanton did not suffer a concussion.

    After Stanton missed 39 games in 2012, it is imperative that he comes out firing on all cylinders at the World Baseball Classic.

    Proving that he can overcome this near-injury could go a long way toward curing the concerns over Stanton's injury tendencies. Stepping up and powering Team USA to gold could also lead to a mega-contract.

    Such a deal has to be of importance to a superstar making roughly $500,000 in 2013.

Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

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    Position: First Base

    Age: 32

    Experience: 10

    2012 Season Statistics

    123 GP, .251/.332/.475, 27 2B, 24 HR, 84 RBI

     

    Mark Teixeira is known around the league as a player who starts slow and turns it on late in the season.

    Last year, it seemed as if Teixeira never got started—he also missed 39 games due to injury.

    To make matters worse, Teixeira failed to hit a single home run during the 2012 MLB postseason. As a result, his reputation took another hit.

    By stepping up and performing at the All-Star level we know him capable of, Teixeira could create the momentum to overcome any form of a slow start.

    Momentum is huge for the New York Yankees first baseman—but will he gain it at the WBC?

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