With the highly anticipated third World Baseball Classic underway, there are a number of teams, loaded with heralded superstars, that would appear to have a chance to make a deep run at baseball's most prestigious international tournament.
Obviously, as the two-time reigning champs, the Japanese are the hands-down favorites to be the last ones standing in San Francisco, but if the previous two WBC's have taught us anything, it's that anyone can win on any given day, regardless of star power.
As such, here's a look at some of the unsung players who will be counted upon to deliver in the clutch this month.
Canada isn't a favorite to do much damage at the WBC, but its squad does feature a number of headliners such as Joey Votto and Jason Bay, so it'd be foolish to count them out entirely.
Aside from their MLB All-Stars, the Red and White also boast an up-and-coming standout in Brett Lawrie, who has quickly become one of the Blue Jays' most promising young guns.
Lawrie's numbers fell off during his second year in the bigs in 2012, but he's a great defensive presence at third base and he's already shown that he could be a difference-maker offensively if he gets hot.
On a Dominican Republic squad that's loaded with offensive firepower—with the likes of Jose Reyes, Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez—the team's priority has to be getting solid performances out of the team's comparatively weaker pitching staff.
Of the bunch, Jose Veras may be one of the most important, as the Houston Astros' project has the velocity and accuracy to serve as the Spaniards' ace in the hole late in games.
Sure, it's been a while since Jimmy Rollins took home NL MVP honors in 2007, but that doesn't mean that the California native isn't still an invaluable presence both offensively and defensively.
With 30 stolen bases in each of his last two seasons, the longtime Philadelphia stalwart gives his team an added dimension every time he steps on the field.