On Tuesday night, the Dominican Republic team wrapped up the World Baseball Classic title with a 3-0 victory over the team from Puerto Rico.
The Dominican team not only took home the title but did it in dominant fashion, running the title with an 8-0 record in the tournament. The win unseated two-time champion Japan in the third go-around of the WBC.
It's an interesting question and something that bears looking at a little closer. So here is a look at how the Dominican Republic team stacks up to their MLB competition and what their chances at a title run would be.
The Dominican team piled up 36 runs over their eight games during the tournament as they boasted a deep, talented lineup.
SS Jose Reyes
DH Erick Aybar
2B Robinson Cano
1B Edwin Encarnacion
3B Hanley Ramirez
RF Nelson Cruz
C Carlos Santana
LF Moises Sierra
CF Alejandro De Aza
The team has a good combination of power and speed, and they stack up well with the top lineups in baseball.
Back in February, I wrote an article ranking all 30 MLB lineups, and I would have no problem sliding the Dominican Republic team into the Top 10 of those rankings.
The trio of Cano, Encarnacion and Cruz give the team three guys capable of reaching the 30-home-run mark, while Reyes and De Aza give the team a pair of top-tier speed threats. If Ramirez can get back on track, he's among the most dynamic offensive players in the game.
Sierra is the only real hole in the lineup, and he split time in left field with Ricardo Nanita, but the lineup has the talent to make up for one weak spot.
Perhaps the most impressive part of how good the Dominican team's lineup is is the fact that the likes of Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Starlin Castro are not part of the team.
All in all, the lineup appears as though it would rank among the highest-scoring in the league and should be more than good enough to make the team a serious title contender.
It's a bit harder to compare the team's pitching staff to MLB teams, as they only used three different starters during their tournament run.
Edinson Volquez, Samuel Deduno and Wandy Rodriguez made up the team's rotation, and they were solid throughout the tournament.
If they were forced to go with a five-man staff with the arms that they had on their roster, their staff could look like this.
RHP Edinson Volquez
LHP Wandy Rodriguez
RHP Sam Deduno
RHP Alfredo Simon
RHP Lorenzo Barcelo
Volquez and Deduno each made three starts during the WBC, while Rodriguez made two, and they all pitched fairly well before turning the ball over to the team's talented bullpen.
Simon, who made 36 appearances out of the Reds' bullpen last season, was part of the Orioles rotation in 2011 and made 16 starts among his 26 appearances. He's been much better as a reliever throughout his career, though.
Barcelo allowed two hits and one run over 3.1 innings of work in four appearances out of the Dominican bullpen, but he too has starting experience.
A top prospect for the White Sox in the late 1990s, Barcelo made 43 appearances (one start) for Chicago from 2000-2002. He's not seen the majors since and pitched in the Mexican League last season where he went 7-5 with a 3.34 ERA over 20 starts.
While the staff is fronted by a pair of proven big-league arms and a potential breakout candidate in Deduno, the lack of back-end talent could be a major issue.
Convincing someone like Johnny Cueto or Ubaldo Jimenez, who both pitched in the 2009 WBC, to join the staff would be a major boost, but, for now, this is a staff that would rank among the worst in the league.
The bullpen is the biggest strength of the Dominican team, as the team simply needed their starter to go four good innings in the tournament to put them in a position to win.
Assuming they kept seven arms in the bullpen after their rotation was filled out, their crop of relievers would look something like this.
RHP Jose Veras
LHP Juan Cedeno
RHP Pedro Strop
RHP Kelvin Herrera
RHP Santiago Casilla
RHP Octavio Dotel
RHP Fernando Rodney
Rodney allowed just one hit over 7.1 innings while converting all seven saves of his save chances during the tournament, and he gives the team a top-tier closer.
Dotel and Veras are proven veteran setup men, while Casilla has dynamic stuff as well. Herrera throws harder than anyone on the staff, and Strop was a revelation in the Orioles bullpen last year as well.
Cedeno is the only real question mark, but he gives the team a left-handed option. He had a 2.81 ERA over 53 appearances in Triple-A for the Yankees last season after pitching internationally since 2008.
It's a bullpen that would rival the Braves, Reds and A's for the best in the league and would go a long way towards offsetting their sub-par rotation.
With a high-powered offense and a shut-down bullpen, the Dominican Republic team could certainly make some noise over a full big league season.
The lack of starting pitching keeps them out of the ranks of the MLB's elite though, as the No. 4 and No. 5 starter would routinely tax the bullpen with short outings.
If Deduno could pitch like he did during the WBC over the course of a full season, it would give the staff a huge boost, but that still wouldn't be enough in my mind for them to contend for a playoff spot.
In a seven-game series against whichever team wins the World Series, I think they would have a legitimate chance to come out on top, but getting there would prove difficult.
My Prediction: 87-75, miss postseason.
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