World Baseball Classic 2013: Winners and Losers from the First Round

PJ BernackiCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2013

World Baseball Classic 2013: Winners and Losers from the First Round

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    The first round is over. Big names went down (Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, Korea) and underdogs rose up (Netherlands, Italy). Powerhouses like the USA and the Dominican Republic looked impressive, as did Japan and Cuba. A lot of well-known MLB players didn't show up, but some did along with international stars who are studs in their own leagues.

    So, who are the individual winners and losers so far in this year's classic? 

Winner: Robinson Cano

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    The best player on the best team in the world is playing phenomenal baseball. The Dominican Republic has possibly the most talented roster in the tournament and Cano had no problem leading them to the second round.

    The Yankee is batting .600 (9-for-15) with three doubles and five RBI. Cano has the best batting average on his team and has the sixth best in the World Baseball Classic.

Loser: Joey Votto

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    The 2010 NL MVP had a poor showing in this year’s Classic. The Reds’ first baseman hit .222 (2-for-9), while striking out four times.

    In his six-year career, Votto averages 102 RBI every 162 games—he didn’t even post a single RBI in the tournament. And now he and his Canadian teammates can go back to spring training. 

Winner: Kenta Maeda

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    In his first game, Maeda pitched five innings against China, absolutely dominating; he didn’t allow a run. The Japanese pitcher relinquished only one hit and one walk, while striking out six batters.

    Although it was in the second round, it is too hard to leave out how he pitched against the Netherlands. Maeda pitched another five innings without giving up a run. Again, he gave up only one hit and struck out a whopping nine batters. 

Loser: Sergio Romo

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    In a pool with USA, Canada and Mexico, it was hard to see the underdog Italian squad moving on to the next round. But somehow they pulled it off and sent Mexico and Canada packing. Adrian Gonzalez had a great three games, but Mexico's other notable MLB player, Sergio Romo, didn’t fare as well.

    The closer for the world champion San Francisco Giants gave up two earned runs off three hits in one inning in a loss to Italy. His next save opportunity came against the USA and he did actually pitch a hit-less inning, though he had a three-run cushion. 

Winner: Michael Saunders

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    Canada didn’t make it out of the group stage, but Michael Saunders certainly shined. Despite their disappointing team performance, Saunders hit .727 (8-for-11), which makes him the tournament leader. The center fielder batted in an incredible seven runs and scored four runs of his own.

    Saunders has been a less-than-average player for the Mariners in his short career (.220 batting average), but he really came out of his shell in the three games Canada played.

Loser: Hanley Ramirez

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    The Dominican Republic has possibly the best roster in the world with studs like Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, Nelson Cruz, Miguel Tejada and so many more MLB starters. And all of them have been performing well.

    Except Hanley Ramirez.

    The third baseman is batting .111 (1-for-9) with only one RBI and no walks. On such a powerhouse of a team, Ramirez seems to be the only weak link. 

Winner: Anthony Granato

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    Italy has been the most surprising team so far in this tournament, by advancing to the second round over Canada and Mexico. Leading this underdog squad has been shortstop Anthony Granato.

    The 31-year-old has been an effective veteran leader for Italy by batting .625 (5-for-8).

Loser: Brandon Phillips

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    Despite the loss to Mexico, USA has looked solid thus far. Stars like David Wright, Joe Mauer, Jimmy Rollins and others are playing great baseball, but Brandon Phillips hasn’t been so fortunate. The second baseman is hitting .214 (3-for-14), with only one RBI and three strikeouts.

    Adam Jones and Shane Victorino have not been playing well either, posting similar batting averages, but Phillips makes this list because he’s had many more at-bats than them.