Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2013 World Baseball Classic
The 2013 World Baseball Classic drew to a climactic end Tuesday evening as the Dominican Republic captured their first title. The Dominicans were led by Robinson Cano, who was named tournament MVP after finishing with an impressive .469 BA.
The tournament also had its share of goats. Teams such as the United States and Japan failed to live up to pre-tournament hype.
And who could forget the ugly "donnybrook" that marred the Mexico-Canada game?
Ultimately, the third installment of the WBC was a success; with that said, it’s time to figure out who were the biggest winners and losers from the event.
Winner: Dominican Republic.
The biggest winner from the 2013 WBC has to be the Dominican Republic. A team that many insiders believed would not be able to compete with the likes of Japan and the United States wound up cruising through the tournament with a perfect 8-0 record.
A combination of proven MLB stars such as Jose Reyes and Robinson Cano set the winning tone for the Dominicans, who became the first team other than Japan to capture a WBC title.
Winner: Robinson Cano, Dominican Republic
The last time Robinson Cano was on a championship stage was last season with the New York Yankees. That experience didn’t turn out so well for Cano as he struggled mightily through the ALDS and ALCS, posting an abysmal .075 BA.
The WBC was a whole different story for Cano as he hit a torrid .469 and was named tournament MVP. This should be a good sign for the Yankees as they will need Cano to continue his hot-hitting due to the fact that they will be without several stars for the start of the season.
The sport of baseball in Italy is not considered much more than a curious pastime. The collective consciousness of the nation is still focused on the sport of football (or soccer) at least for now.
The Italian team was comprised of only a handful of current major leaguers—players such as Nick Punto, Jason Grilli and Anthony Rizzo. However, the Italy squad surprised many by advancing to the second round of the WBC and putting up a good fight against perennial world powers Puerto Rico and eventual champion the Dominican Republic.
The Japanese squad was expected to be a serious contender for the WBC title.
It didn’t turn out that way.
The two-time defending WBC champions were ousted in the semifinals by Puerto Rico. For Japan and its baseball crazy fanbase, anything less than a championship could be considered a major failure.
The Japanese were void of any major leaguers on their squad, as the likes of Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish decided to skip the event. You have to wonder whether or not the lack of MLB talent was a contributing factor in their ouster.
Loser: Masahiro Tanaka, Japan
Masahiro Tanaka will have to wait for another opportunity to impress MLB scouts. The Japanese hurler pitched really well in the WBC pitching to a 2.57 ERA, striking out 12 in seven innings pitched.
His chance, however, to shine on the world stage in the WBC championship game did not happen, as Japan was ousted in the semifinals by Puerto Rico.
The WBC was supposed to be a friendly competition between nations. That was not the case in a first-round game between Canada and Mexico.
The game was marred by an ugly brawl that looked more like a scene from WWE Monday Night Raw. There were seven ejections and several altercations between the players and spectators in the crowd.
Not a great way to showcase the sport of baseball on the international stage.
The aftermath was not good for both teams, as they failed to advance to the second round of the tournament.
Loser: United States
The United States was supposed to put up much more of a fight than it did in the WBC. What transpired, however, was another disappointing early exit from the WBC tournament.
A team with the likes of Joe Mauer, David Wright and Ryan Braun were expected to contend for the title. Instead, they were eliminated in the second round of the tournament to eventual runner-up Puerto Rico.
You have to wonder whether or not Team USA's fortunes would have been different if the likes of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Mike Trout were on the roster.
I guess we'll never know!