World Baseball Classic Groups A and B saw Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands advance to the next round, leaving the defending runner-up, Korea, behind. Cuba moved on with ease, but surprisingly, without any players from MLB. The same can be said for Japan and Chinese Taipei.
But the Netherlands fields some names you may be familiar with. Groups C and D contain countries with strong MLB ties, but only some of them have played so far.
So, how have all of the notable players fared so far at the World Baseball Classic?
Although no longer in MLB, Andruw Jones is showing that he can still play. The outstanding outfielder was an All-Star selection five times and a 10-time Golden Glove winner in 12 years as an Atlanta Brave. He bounced around for a bit before finishing off his 17-year MLB career with the Yankees, but now he is making noise in the classic.
Jones is batting .455 (5-for-11) with two runs scored and five walks. The 35-year-old has an on-base percentage of .647! You don’t normally think of the Dutch when you think of baseball, but Jones has been a veteran leader showing his young teammates how it’s done. Considering his age and position, his performance thus far has been tremendous.
This 23-year-old shortstop will be starting for a dangerous Braves team this year, and so far in this tournament, he is proving why. In four games, Simmons is batting .353 with two doubles, five runs scored and two RBI. Even with the veteran Jones there, Simmons may be the best player the Netherlands has to offer.
Spain shocked everybody by upsetting Mexico 6-5 in Group D’s opening game. Although Mexico had 11 hits, it failed to score runs late when it mattered. A bright spot, however, was that its best hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, went 2-for-2 with two walks. The All-Star first baseman did his part.
The bearded reliever for the San Francisco Giants pitched a miserable inning against Spain. Romo gave up two earned runs on three hits in his one inning of action. He didn’t even manage to get a strikeout. Romo was a key part of the Giants’ World Series victory, but also a major reason why Mexico lost.
The stars shined in the Dominican Republic’s impressive 9-3 victory against Venezuela. Shortstop Jose Reyes went 4-for-5, and Robinson Cano followed suit by going 3-for-5 with three RBI. Nelson Cruz also pitched in with two hits of his own, and Hanley Ramirez added a solo home run for his only hit of the game. All in all, the studs played as well as expected, but nothing overly impressive.
Unlike the Dominican Republic, the MLB players for Venezuela did not show up. No one on the team had multiple hits. In fact, the entire squad only had six. Their best player and possibly the league’s best hitter, Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-4.
Martin Prado was walked twice, so we cant't give him as much blame, but Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Elvis Andrus all only had one hit (although Sandoval’s double did score two runs).
Overall, Venezuela failed to impress with the amount of talent it has.