By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)
MARYVILLE, Tenn. – After an exhilarating week of international baseball, the World Baseball Classic-Regensburg (WBCQR) crowned a winner in Canada. Deutschland certainly could have had a more favourable grouping, but they had two chances to beat Canada and came up short twice, especially in the final. Great Britain earned an upset win and Česká Republika did not exit without a fight. A number of players impressed, but not just the minor league veterans and international prospects. For that reason, an unofficial WBCQR All-Tournament team and awards seemed appropriate.
MVP: Jimmy Van Ostrand (Canada). There should be no doubt that Van Ostrand would be MVP. He hit 7-for-13 (.538) with two singles, one double, and four home runs. He accrued a tournament-leading 20 total bases, 10 RBI, and 9 runs, while walking twice, and almost singlehandedly defeated Deutschland. (Honourable mention: Matt Weaver)
Best Pitcher: Enorbel Marquez Ramírez (Deutschland). Both Ramírez and Shawn Hill dominated Great Britain, but Ramírez lost a no-hitter and shutout in the seventh inning, but held on above his pitch limit in his last batter to record the complete game. (Honourable mention: Shawn Hill)
Best Fielder: Jonathan Malo (Canada) The WBC website does not offer advanced defensive statistics, but Malo showed great range and made all the routine plays easily. (Honourable mention: Matt Weaver).
Best Runner: Albert Cartwright (Great Britain). This qualifier did not really have a superlative runner. Cartwright is the selection by a slight margin after consistently taking bases on wild pitches and went to second on a single on a throw to third in the game versus Česká Republika. He also scored Britain’s only run against Deutschland after scoring from first on a single and an error. (Honourable mention: Skyler Stromsmoe)
C – Chris Robinson (Canada). Robinson was an offensive force in Canada’s three games, hitting in the number two position. He went 5-11 (.455) with a double, walk, and only one strikeout. Behind the plate he commanded a minor league pitching staff with authority, though he was not tested as much as other catchers.
1B – Jimmy Van Ostrand (Canada). There should be no doubt that Van Ostrand would be the selection for first base. In addition to the offensive statistics listed above, he added several decent defensive plays.
2B – Toby Gardenhire (Deutschland). This was easily the most difficult position to decide. Each of the four second baseman in the qualifier committed at least one error while sparkling at other times, and none dazzled with the bat. Skyler Stromsmoe came on strong in the final with a 2-for-3 day, but Gardenhire was consistent throughout his four games. His final line was .308 with a walk and two doubles, striking out only once in 13 at bats.
SS – Albert Cartwright (Great Britain). This selection is not for Cartwright’s defence, though he displayed some good range. He was a bit shaky on long throws, but should be given credit for playing out-of-position. At the plate, though, he was 5-for-11 with a home run. He scored four times and was an offensive sparkplug for the Lions.
3B – Matt Weaver (Deutschland). Third base was the best position in this qualifer, with third baseman hitting a combined .419 and slugged .628. Not only did Weaver out-slug the competition, he displayed exceptional defence at the hot corner, showing off range, hands, and arm. His statistics at the plate are even more impressive: 5-for-14 (.357) with a double, two home runs (including a grand slam), four runs, and nine RBI (second to Van Ostrand of all players in both qualifiers). He walked and struck out once.
LF – Bradley Roper-Hubbert (Great Britain). Left field was another position without a clear best player, and any of the four left fielders in the qualifier could have won. Roper-Hubbert was 3-for-9 with two walks, three runs, and three driven in, but also hit what was likely the longest home run of the tournament. One estimate suggested it travelled 440 feet, though official measurements were not released. Roper-Hubbert gains the edge over Eric Suttle and Rene Tosoni for the stellar grab he made on a ball hit extremely hard by Petr Čech, with the Czechs threatening in the bottom of the eighth. It would likely have only made the final score 12-7, but with only one out, the Czechs could have easily rallied.
CF – Tyson Gillies (Canada). An easy choice here, as Gillies hit .500 in 14 at bats, including two-, three-, and four-base hits. He added two walks, score five runs, and knocked in three, while showing superior range in centre.
RF – Aaron Altherr (Deutschland). Probably the most surprising power hitter in either of the September WBCQs, Altherr had a dramatic tournament. Among hitters with at least 10 at bats, Altherr topped them in batting average at .545 (6-for-11) and was second in OPS (1720). He had a double and two home runs, including one that scored the only run for Deutschland in the final (and was one of only three hits). Overall, he was 3-for-5 versus Canadian pitching in a breakout performance.
C – Chris Berset (Great Britain): .125/.364/.250 0Ks, great defence
IF – Shawn Bowman (Canada): .385/.467/.462 2R, 3RBI
IF – Mike Červenak (Česká Republika): .714/.750/.857 1R, 1RBI
IF – Matt Vance (Deutschland): .300/.462/.300 4R, 3RBI, 1SB
OF – Adam Loewen (Canada): .500/.533/.857 4R, 5RBI
OF – Tim Smith (Canada): .308/.357/.538 5R, 1RBI, 1SB
OF – Jakub Malik (Česká Republika): .375/.375/.375 1RBI
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher – Enorbel Marquez Ramírez (Deutschland). Pitchers were harder to separate as most had only a few innings, but Ramírez was clearly the most dominant right-handed starter. He led the tournament in innings (7), strikouts (8), and WHIP (0.29), while showing efficiency and command against an aggressive but capable British team. He posted better numbers than many minor leaguers, yet Ramírez is a veteran of the Bundesliga.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher – Shawn Hill (Canada). Hill was almost as impressive as Ramírez in a win over Great Britain, working fairly efficiently and with the tournament’s best command. He struck out 7 in 5 2/3, allowing only one run on three hits with no walks for the win.
Reliever – Luke Sommer (Deutschland). Sommer relieved twice against Canada and, while taking the loss the first time, was Deutschland’s best pitcher against Canada. He commanded the strike zone well both times out and limited the damage in crucial middle innings. In two appearances, he threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (both on solo homer) on six hits and two walks, striking out seven in the brutal Canadian lineup. He finished with a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
Andrew Albers (Canada): 1-0, 1.50 (6 IP, 3K, 0.33 WHIP)
Mike Bolsenbroek (Deutschland): 1-0, 0.00 (5.1 IP, 6K, 1.31 WHIP)
Jake Esch (Great Britain): 1-0, 3.00 (6 IP, 3K, 0.83 WHIP)
Alex Sogard (Česká Republika): 0-0, 2.45 (3.2 IP, 3K, 0.55 WHIP)