With the 2013 World Baseball Classic around the bend, USA Baseball has announced its 28-man roster, which sports 16 All-Stars, three MVPs and one Cy Young Award winner, per USABaseball.com.
The American side has a stacked lineup and pitching staff this year, as it has for the previous two go-arounds in the competition.
On the other hand, a talented roster didn't stop USA Baseball from placing eighth and fourth in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
Japan has won the first two World Baseball Classics in history leading up to the start of the 2013 WBC on March 2.
Here's a look at the top players who could boost USA Baseball to victory this year.
*Note: USA Baseball plays its first game of the 2013 WBC on March 8 against Mexico, via WorldBaseballClassic.com. All WAR stats via Baseball-Reference.com.
3. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta Braves
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In two seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Craig Kimbrel
has posted a combined 88 saves. In his three-year career with the Braves, the 24-year-old right-hander has registered a 1.46 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and (ahem) 283 strikeouts in 160.1 innings. He ranked 31st in WAR among all pitchers last season despite being a relief pitcher.
2. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington Nationals
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A move from the American League to the National League last season didn't appear to slow Gio
Gonzalez. In fact, he got better. The two-time All-Star went 21-8 in 2012, posting a 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 207 strikeouts in 199.1 innings. He ranked 11th in WAR among all pitchers last season.
1. R.A. Dickey, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
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Hey, he's the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner. What else do you need to know? R.A. Dickey was phenomenal for the New York Mets last season. He went 20-6 while compiling a 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 230 strikeouts in 233.2 innings. Did I mention the right-handed knuckleballer
also racked up five complete games, including three shutouts?
4. Joe Mauer, C/1B, Minnesota Twins
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Joe Mauer may not be the player he once was, but when he's healthy, he can still hit the cover off the ball. The 29-year-old batted .319 last season—leading baseball with a .416 on-base percentage—and added 10 home runs, 85 RBI and 81 runs. That included hitting .365 and posting a .460 on-base percentage when he batted as the starting catcher. He ranked 34th among all batters in WAR.
3. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
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Known for his spectacular power, Giancarlo
Stanton posted career highs in batting average (.290), on-base percentage (.361) and slugging percentage (.608) last season. He would have had the top slugging percentage in baseball if he had qualified (he played in just 123 games). He ranked 19th among all batters in WAR.
2. David Wright, 3B, New York Mets
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David Wright has certainly proven himself in Major League Baseball. He's a six-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner. In 2012, he hit .306 with a .391 on-base percentage (seventh in baseball), 93 RBI and 91 runs. The 30-year-old doesn't appear to have the home-run power he once did, but his 41 doubles last season showed that he still has plenty of gap power. He ranked ninth among all batters in WAR in 2012.
1. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
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As the 2011 National League MVP, Ryan Braun picked up right where he left off last season. In 2012, the 29-year-old right-hander hit .319 with 41 home runs, 112 RBI and 108 runs. That included a .391 on-base percentage and a .595 slugging percentage. All
of those marks ranked in the top 10 in Major League Baseball. He also posted 30 stolen bases while being caught only seven times. Braun ranked sixth among all batters in WAR last season.