The first game of the World Baseball Classic will be taking place in this pool on March 2. If you are not familiar with the setup of the World Baseball Classic, each pool consists of four teams. These four teams play a round-robin format, where the top two teams will advance into the next round. All games in the World Baseball Classic can be seen on MLB Network.
Here is a complete schedule of the action in Pool B, along with predictions for each game. All times are eastern, and all games in Pool B will take place at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taiwan.
March 2, 11:30 p.m. - Australia vs. Chinese Taipei
March 2, 6:30 a.m. - South Korea vs. Netherlands
March 3, 1:30 a.m. - Netherlands vs. Chinese Taipei
March 4, 5:30 a.m. - South Korea vs. Australia
March 5, 11:30 p.m. - Australia vs. Netherlands
March 5, 6:30 a.m. - Chinese Taipei vs. South Korea
South Korea (3-0)
This is certainly the toughest pool of the four, with all teams being ranked in the top 10 in the world (according to the IBAF World Rankings), but South Korea will be ready for the challenge. For MLB fans, they will not be familiar with any of the players on the roster, but that does not mean that they should take any of them lightly.
There are a lot of great players in this lineup, but the most important one will be Seung-Yeop Lee. He is 36 and near the end of his career, but South Korea will need some pop from his bat. He has nearly 500 career home runs, and if the South Koreans can get him going, they could be very tough to beat.
The toughest test will come from Chinese Taipei in the final game, but South Korea should be able to get through to the next round with a 3-0 record.
Chinese Taipei (2-1)
South Korea is the best team in this pool, but the battle for second is going to turn out to be a war. Chinese Taipei should have enough firepower to make it through.
One of the things that could play to their advantage is that they do not have to face South Korea until the final game of the pool, which could help out their confidence, knowing that if they just take care of things against Australia and the Netherlands, then they will not have to face South Korea with a quarterfinal spot on the line.
Cheng-Min Peng will be one of the biggest threats in Chinese Taipei's lineup. He is a five-time batting champion, and if he can come through offensively, Chinese Taipei will be able to cruise behind their incredibly strong pitching.
The biggest matchup in this pool is likely going to be the battle between the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei. The game is the second for both sides and could be an essential tiebreaker if they end up having the same record in pool play.
Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is one of the best hitters on the Dutch team. Hitting is likely not going to be the problem for the Dutch, though. The reason they will come up short to Chinese Taipei will be because of pitching.
Taipei has outstanding pitching, while the Netherlands' pitching is very bad.
It is not that Australia is a bad team; in fact, they are ranked as the 10th best international team. Unfortunately, they wound up in the group of death. The opponents in this group appear to be just too strong for Australia to handle.
The Australian team is well balanced, but it lacks any truly elite talent. We can expect that they will be able to keep the games competitive against their strong opponents in this pool, but they will eventually falter at some point in each game and walk away from the World Baseball Classic without a victory.
So there you have it. Look for South Korea and Chinese Taipei to advance out of Pool B and into the quarterfinals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Make sure to check back and see all the previews for each game of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
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