Although the World Baseball Classic does not have the hype surrounding it in 2013 that it has had in the past, it is still an event that garners tremendous national pride.
Japan has won the two previous editions of the World Baseball Classic, but crucial players from those winning squads like Yu Darvish and Ichiro Suzuki, are not participating—which opens the door for other teams.
The United States is hoping to dethrone the Japanese in 2013. Despite having a home-field advantage in the first two World Baseball Classics, the Americans have not finished higher than fourth place.
If the United States is going to win the 2013 World Baseball Classic, here are three players who are going to have to play well.
The reigning National League Cy Young award winner leads the American pitching rotation in 2013. He will pitch in the United States’ first game against Mexico.
Dickey was a journeyman through most of his career until he exploded last year with a 20-6 season and recorded a 2.73 ERA.
Look for Dickey’s knuckleball to dance around the competition’s bats. When he is on with his knuckleball, he is almost impossible to hit.
Because he is a knuckleball pitcher and does not strain his arm too much during a game, Dickey can go deep in games and the United States will not have to overuse the bullpen.
Rollins played as well as anybody on the United States team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
In eight games, Rollins hit .417 with one double, two triples, one home run and four RBI. Rollins also used his feet to generate offense. He scored four runs and had four stolen bases.
Although Rollins is not the same player he was 2009, expect him to have a solid performance in 2013. If he can get on base, Rollins’ prowess on the base paths can still be a big advantage for the United States.
Braun also played exceptionally well in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and he will be relied upon in 2013 as the major source of power for the American team.
In 2009, Braun played in six games and had two doubles and one home run while hitting .381.
If Braun can stay focused amidst the rumors of performance enhancing drugs, look for him to have a repeat performance from 2009.
If the United States can get Dickey, Rollins and Braun to play up to their potential, the Americans will have a great chance to win their first World Baseball Classic.