World Baseball Classic 2013 Results: Pool B's Biggest Stars, Goats
After a couple of days of exciting Pool B play at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei will advance to the second round with 2-1 records.
Chinese Taipei won the opener of the pool over Australia and cruised to another victory a day later against the Dutch. Korea, who was eliminated but also finished with a 2-1 record, took down Chinese Taipei in the Pool B finale.
Korea won’t get the opportunity to continue on because of the tiebreaker (based on Team Quality Balance), which had them in third place, according to Debby Wu of MLB.com.
The Dutch took down Korea early on in pool play but then fell to Chinese Taipei before getting their act together to defeat Australia in their third game of the tournament. Australia finished Pool B action winless, going 0-3 and getting outscored 14-2.
So with the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei advancing to play against the two winners of Pool A, let’s take a look at who had the biggest impact on Pool B. Here are the stars and goats from first round play in the pool.
Star: Dai-Kang Yang, Chinese Taipei
Chinese Taipei has one of the most dangerous offenses at the World Baseball Classic and they finished first-round play with the most runs in Pool B. That was mainly due to the play of outfielder Dai-Kang Yang, who hits leadoff for his country.
Yang has had an extremely hot bat thus far, going 4-for-12 in three games with a home run, four RBI and three runs. He’s currently in a tie for second place in the entire tournament with seven total bases.
The best part about Yang’s game is that he’s been able to get on base often and those hitting behind him have been driving him in. He has a .940 on-base percentage through the first round of action at the World Baseball Classic and his team is going to be well off if he can keep it up.
Goat: Ryan Searle, Australia
As I mentioned in the introduction, Australia didn’t have much success at all in the first round and will be headed home after an 0-3 performance. Although the team couldn’t get much going offensively, the pitching wasn’t great, either.
Ryan Searle, who has been pitching in the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system the last four years, struggled. He only made one appearance, but in three innings of work, he allowed four runs on four hits with two walks and two hit batsmen. His 12.00 ERA is currently the second highest in the tournament.
All Searle can do, though, is shake off the rough couple of days and hope that he can continue pitching for the Cubs this season. He made it up to Triple-A Iowa last season and over the course of his career, he’s 34-37 with a 3.86 ERA in nearly 550 innings.
Star: Chien-Ming Wang, Chinese Taipei
Remember Chien-Ming Wang? He finished in second place in the American League Cy Young Award voting back in 2006 when he won 19 games. He’s been pitching for the Washington Nationals the last two seasons but is currently seeking another major league contract.
Wang’s performance through pool play should’ve at least had general managers thinking about signing him. He pitched brilliantly in the only game of the tournament that he took the mound, going six innings without allowing a run. He gave up four hits and struck out two batters, picking up the victory.
One of the teams that are definitely keeping an eye on Wang is his former team, the New York Yankees. Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports that the Bronx Bombers will be watching to see how he does and could give him the chance to compete for a spot on the team.
Goat: Minho Kang, Korea
Unfortunately for Korea, things didn’t bounce their way. They’re going home despite winning just as many games as the teams advancing. The lineup wasn’t very consistent and some players had issues at the plate. No one was worse than Minho Kang.
Kang was a train wreck at the plate, going hitless in nine at-bats across three games. But going hitless isn’t the worst part because if you’re putting the ball in play, at least that’s better than nothing. The problem with Kang was that he wasn’t really putting the ball in play. He struck out five times in those nine at-bats, which is tied for the most at the World Baseball Classic.
As a team, Korea only struck out 14 times in their three games in Pool B. That means that Kang accounted for 37 percent of the strikeouts. Maybe next time around Korea will think twice before putting the catcher on the roster.
Star: Andruw Jones, Netherlands
The Netherlands are looking very smart for bringing Andruw Jones along to the World Baseball Classic. The star outfielder who has 434 major league home runs to his credit, made a big impact on the Dutch team that is advancing to the second round.
In three games, Jones went 3-for-7 with a double, two runs and four walks. His 1.238 OPS is currently the fifth highest among all batters that have competed thus far. A big bat in the middle of the lineup is huge for the Dutch and the fact that he’s had a great eye, drawing the four walks, is extremely important.
Jones, however, won’t be playing in the United States once the World Baseball Classic concludes. He’ll be playing in Japan for the Rakuten Eagles, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). Unless he has a great year overseas, it’s tough to imagine that he’ll ever return to Major League Baseball.
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