Grading the World Baseball Classic Performance of Top MLB Stars

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2013

Grading the World Baseball Classic Performance of Top MLB Stars

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    A number of big names put their talent on display during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and it made for a very exciting tournament.

    Some of MLB's biggest stars took a break from spring training to represent their countries in baseball's premier international competition. Many of these players were the reason for their team's success.

    While some players appeared to be in midseason form, there were others who struggled throughout the tournament.

    The following grades are based on the performance of 10 of MLB's top stars, including five position players and five pitchers, during the 2013 WBC.

Miguel Cabrera

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    While the Venezuelan team may not have made it out of the first round of the World Baseball Classic in 2013, that was not the fault of Miguel Cabrera.

    The winner of the American League Triple Crown put together some solid numbers in the three games in which he appeared. Cabrera had a .333 batting average for the tournament to go along with one home run and three RBI.

    Grade: B+

David Wright

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    The best performance of the 2013 World Baseball Classic belonged to David Wright. Opposing pitchers struggled to shut down Wright as he was locked in for the four games in which he appeared.

    Wright had a four-RBI performance against Italy, and followed it with a five-RBI outburst against Puerto Rico. In just four games, Wright had a tournament-leading 10 RBI.

    If Wright is able to perform at a level like this during the regular season, he could put up MVP-like numbers this year for the New York Mets.

    Grade: A+

Anthony Rizzo

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    Team Italy was counting on Anthony Rizzo to help advance past pool play at the World Baseball Classic and while it was able to do that after defeating Mexico and Canada, Rizzo was not of much help.

    Rizzo did have six RBI during Italy's five World Baseball Classic games, but he also struggled at times. At the end of Italy's run, Rizzo only had a .235 batting average and certainly did not perform like he was Italy's best player.

    Grade: C

Robinson Cano

4 of 10

    New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has established himself as one of the best players in the major leagues, and he showed that he could be in for another big year with his performance in the World Baseball Classic.

    Cano was able to figure out basically everything that opposing pitchers threw at him early on during the tournament, and his production was a big reason why the Dominican Republic won the World Baseball Classic.

    A big run producer during the tournament, Cano struggled in the tournament's later rounds.

    Grade: A-

Joey Votto

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    Team Canada got a major boost when it was able to add Joey Votto to its roster right before the tournament. It was hoping that the former National League MVP would be able to help win its pool.

    Canada, however, did not get what it was hoping for as Votto was very unproductive during the tournament. Opposing pitchers decided to pitch around Votto, who drew five walks in Canada's three games, but also only hit .222 while striking out four times and failed to drive in a run.

    Grade: D-

R.A. Dickey

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    Following a National League Cy Young Award season with the New York Mets, R.A. Dickey was given the role as the ace of the American pitching staff at the World Baseball Classic.

    Things got off to a shaky start for Dickey, who gave up four runs on six hits over four innings in the USA's opening game against Mexico as Dickey picked up the loss after his poor performance.

    The USA once again handed Dickey the ball against the Dominican Republic, and he looked much better. Dickey went five innings and allowed one run on five hits while striking out four.

    While Dickey was not an ace during the tournament, his second start was much more indicative of his talent level.

    Grade: C

Anibal Sanchez

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    Things were certainly ugly for Anibal Sanchez during his only World Baseball Classic appearance. In fact, he might have had the worst performance of any big-name MLB player during the tournament.

    Sanchez was unable to make it out of the first inning against Puerto Rico. He was hit hard and gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits in a third of an inning.

    Grade: F

Yovani Gallardo

8 of 10

    Based on the starting lineup that Mexico was going with at the World Baseball Classic, it was clear that there was going to be a lot of pressure on its pitching staff to put in a good performance.

    Yovani Gallardo, who has been solid for the Milwaukee Brewers over the past few seasons, turned in a good performance for Team Mexico. Gallardo took the hill in Mexico's win over the USA and helped lead his team to the upset after giving up just one run on two hits while striking out four in 3.1 innings.

    Grade: B+

Gio Gonzalez

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    If Gio Gonzalez pitches like he did in the World Baseball Classic during MLB's regular season, he could be in for a Cy Young Award year. It would also make the Washington Nationals a potential runaway favorite in the National League.

    Gonzalez was lights out during his start against Puerto Rico in the tournament's second round. The talented Puerto Rican lineup struggled to get anything going against Gonzalez, who yielded just three hits over five innings. The lefty also held them scoreless while striking out five.

    Grade: A

Fernando Rodney

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    Based on the number of late-inning comebacks that occurred during the World Baseball Classic, it became clear that having an elite closer was incredibly valuable during the tournament. The Dominican Republic has just that in Fernando Rodney.

    The Dominican team was involved in a number of tight games, so Rodney was on the mound often. In fact, he appeared in every single one of the Domincans' games.

    He was the definition of a shutdown closer during the tournament, allowing just one hit over 7.1 innings while recording seven saves.

    Grade: A+