With the 2013 World Baseball Classic in full swing as of Saturday, it's time to start gauging who the contenders and pretenders of the field are.
We know a team like Japan—which has won both of the only two WBCs of the past—is always a contender, but what we don't know is how a team like Venezuela, with multiple MLB players, will fare.
Looking at the potential matchups that lie ahead, there are a few favorites that could be in some trouble as the tournament progresses.
Each team listed is considered at least a 12-to-1 favorite to win, according to Vegas Insider
For a complete look at the 2013 WBC bracket, click here.
Chinese Taipei started off the tournament on the right foot, downing Australia 4-1 on Friday night.
The Netherlands is already proving to be a contender in Pool B, upsetting Korea 5-0 on Saturday morning, and looks like it'll give Chinese Taipei a run for its money in the Pool.
If the Dutch win the pool, Chinese Taipei will likely have to play Japan—winners of the first two WBCs— in the second round.
If Chinese Taipei wins the Pool, it still may have a tough matchup against Cuba, who I believe will be the runner-up in Pool A.
Any way you look at it for Chinese Taipei, the results don't look promising following the first round.
As previously discussed, Cuba will contend in Pool A and should be able to advance to the second round, but that's where it ends for the Cubans.
The Cuban team has plenty of talent, but it doesn't look to be deep enough, like Japan and the U.S. are.
Of the three teams I've discussed, I believe Cuba has the best chances of advancing the furthest—I can see Cuba even making it past the second round, but the lack of depth and the average pitching is what will hurt Team Cuba as the tournament advances.
Further down the line, it'll have to go through teams like the Dominican Republic, U.S. and Japan, and I just don't see that happening.
The Venezuelan club boasts some of the best talent MLB has to offer on offense. Players like Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Pablo Sandoval and Elvis Andrus will all suit up for them, but pitching will likely be an issue for Venezuela.
Anchoring the staff is Anibal Sanchez and Jhoulys Chacin, neither of which had an ERA lower than 3.85 during the 2012 MLB season.
Also going against Team Venezuela is the fact that they share Pool C with the Dominican Republic, which will likely win the Pool.
Assuming Venezuela is the runner-up in Pool C, that means it'll likely have to go through the United States in the second round in order to advance further, and that's just not going to happen this year.
Miguel Cabrera came up short of a World Series victory last October and he'll come up short in the WBC here in 2013.
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