2013 World Baseball Classic Pool Projections

With the final four bids for the 2013 World Baseball Classic in the book, it is possible to make an educated guess as to what teams will make up each of the four pools in the main part of the tournament.  Three nations have already been selected to each pool, and the final team will be a country that reached through the qualification rounds.

Here are the pools as currently assigned:

Pool A: Cuba (No. 1), Japan (No. 3), and China (No. 20).
Pool B: South Korea (No. 4), the Netherlands (No. 6), and Australia (No. 12).
Pool C: Venezuela (No. 7), Puerto Rico (No. 9), and the Dominican Republic (No. 13).
Pool D: United States (No. 2), Mexico (No. 10), and Italy (No. 11).

[NB: The rankings are based on my predictions, explained in this article on Nov. 23.]

One conclusion for placement of a team with a qualifying bid comes simply from geography.  Pool B is hosted by Taichung, Taiwan, so it seems quite likely that Chinese Taipei (No. 8) would slot in there.

The placements from Brazil (No. 19), Canada (No. 5), and Spain (No. 16) are much more difficult to project.  Pool A is in Fukuoka, Japan, while the third group is in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Phoenix, Arizona hosts Pool D.

Pool A is clearly the strongest at the top, so Brazil or Spain would seem a natural fit there.  If one goes purely by ranking (those projected by me), Brazil should be sent to Fukuoka, especially with the enormous influence Japan has had on Brazilian baseball.  Of the two, Brazil seems more likely to play in the first pool.

The final pool is slightly easier to project than Pool C.  After the embarrassing performance by the United States in 2009 (and only marginally better effort in 2006), the MLB-funded Classic is likely going to ensure that they advance.  Canada was not happy about having to travel to Germany to ensure a place in the WBC and looks like a good bet to join the US in Tucson as favourites in Pool D.

That leaves the third pool, which has the teams ranked in the middle of all the groups.  Spain would round out that group nicely, though it would likely ensure that hosts Puerto Rico would take on the Dominican Republic in their first game.  (Still, that option is better than having Canada in the group, which would mean taking on Venezuela in the first game.)

Assuming my prognostications are correct, these will be the groups for the 2013 Classic:

Pool A (Japan): Brazil, China, Cuba, and Japan.
Pool B (Chinese Taipei): Australia, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands, and South Korea.
Pool C (Puerto Rico): The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela.
Pool D (United States): Canada, Italy, Mexico, United States.

As this article is hypothetical in nature, it is also possible to have a stab at the last place team in each group and, therefore, the one that would have to win a qualifying round to play in 2017.  Each of the groups has one team that is clearly the best and another that is unlikely to secure a victory, assuming that the teams more or less stay with their current rosters.

The likely last-place finisher in Pool A is China.  Were Brazil to beat China in what would be the expected first game in the loser’s bracket they would complete an improbable five months in which they went from an afterthought in Panamá City to inching over 100 points in the IBAF ranking metric (the equivalent of No. 76 American Samoa jumping to 17th, ahead of Germany!).  China has had very poor, if lucky, showings in the two previous WBCs.

Pool B is more difficult to forecast.  South Korea is a sure bet to advance, and Chinese Taipei will likely win at least one game.  The Netherlands have had a stunning 18 months in which they won the final World Cup and placed second in the European Baseball Championships.  I would take them in a tossup over Australia.

While Spain used a bit of magic to advance out of Jupiter, Fla., it is likely that they will come up short in a tough Caribbean group.  Like the Panamá City qualifier, this one should feature the most exciting, nail-biting baseball.  Unlike that tournament, I think it improbable that the lowest-rated team will win.

Assuming that Canada crosses only one border to play in Tucson, it would appear that Italy, the European Champions, will be the hard-luck losers.  They could just as easily upset Canada again, in which case Mexico or Canada could finish in last place.  My prediction is that the Italians will have to qualify for 2017.

If China, Australia, Spain, and Italy are all eliminated without a victory, the 2016 Qualification rounds will need new hosts.  Look for Panamá City to host a bracket with Panamá, Colómbia, and Nicaragua.  I am going to take a wild guess and say Spain joins them because of the linguistic connection.

Italy would almost certainly host a European qualifier with Germany and two other European nations (possibly Great Britain and the Czech Republic).  It is possible that Germany would again host a bracket, but more likely that it would travel to Nettuno, Italy.

The Asian qualifier would be hosted by either Australia or China.  It is a real possibility that Australia would host New Zealand, the Philippines, and another team (Indonesia, Pakistan, or Thailand will all be considered), with China travelling to another location.  Both countries are supported by MLB International, but this might lead to Australia travelling to a US bracket, as that seems more likely than China playing in Florida or California.

That leaves an American bracket, which would host South Africa, either Australia or China, Israel (who will almost certainly merit an inclusion despite having only one native Israeli) and one of the European countries not hosted by Italy.  As I have tried to place every team in a group, I am going to take another shot in the dark and add France to the group once more.

Stay tuned to Extra Innings: Baseball Around the World for in-depth analysis.  In the months leading up to the 2013 WBC, I will be profiling all the teams that will compete.  After the third Classic champion is crowned, I shall then start a series that looks at countries that may merit inclusion in the 2016 Qualifying Rounds.

About Gabriel Fidler

Extra Innings UK covers baseball around the world, focussing on the sport at the national team level, with features on prominent players, scouting reports, and occasional breaking news. We are fully credentialled by MLB and have covered the World Baseball Classic, continental championships, and the U.S. minor leagues.
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30 Responses to 2013 World Baseball Classic Pool Projections

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  26. Philip Lowry says:

    September 10, 2019
    When do you think that the WBCQ and WBC matchups and venues will be announced?
    Phil Lowry

    • We have not heard any rumours about a decision being made, but feel fairly confident it will come this winter. The Premier 12 will happen after the World Series, so an announcement in December or January would make sense, avoiding spring training on the other end of winter.

      Qualifiers are almost certain to be in September and October of 2020, for two simple reasons: It will be too late to have them in Spring 2020 unless announced now (and some of those players will head to Tokyo for the Olympics as well) and it could not be any later with the WBC likely in Spring 2021.

      You may be interested in this older post about the 2020 WBC: https://extrainningsbaseball.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/2020-wbcq.

      -Gabriel

      • Philip Lowry says:

        Gabriel, thank you very much for writing back. I see you are interested in the WBCQ like me.
        Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred is on record stating that he wants more countries in the WBC. How might this be accomplished?
        The small addition option would be to add four new nations, increasing the field from 28 to 32. Each of the four Qualifier Round pools could add one nation, so that there would be five nations in each pool.
        Where might the four Qualifier pools be held? Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan and Estadio Charros in Zapopan, Mexico are easy choices. They have drawn well in previous Classics. The other two choices are not as easy. Estadio Dennis Martinez in Managua, Nicaragua would be an excellent choice. And surprisingly, North Harbor Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand would work. It hosts the Auckland franchise in the Australia Baseball League.
        The large addition option would be to add 12 new nations, increasing the field from 28 to 40 nations. This could be done by adding another qualifier round. The First Qualifier Round would contain the 12 new nations and the four relegated teams from 2017: Taiwan, Mexico, China, and Canada. The Second Qualifier Round would consist of the four winners of the First Qualifier Round and the 12 nations not relegated in the 2017 First Round.
        How to choose the new nations? Well, that is controversial. One way is to take the nations which are in the Top 40 nations of the most recent WBSC Rankings. Another way is to choose the new nations based on media size, baseball interest, and geographic diversity.
        In the past four Classics, the WBC has mostly chosen on the basis of the WBSC Rankings.
        However, they have invited several nations not based on the rankings. Israel and New Zealand were chosen despite not being in the Top 28 of the WBSC Rankings.
        One option that would assist in finding new nations would be to cull out seven nations in the lower part of the Top 40 which have performed poorly in the past: #22 Germany, # 24 Pakistan, # 25 France, # 26 Spain, # 33 Philippines, # 38 England, # 45 Thailand.
        Here are some possibilities on nations which could be added as new nations to the First Qualifier Round and to replace the culled nations: # 21 Argentina, # 27 Austria, # 28 Hong Kong, #29 Russia, # 30 Belgium, # 31 Indonesia, # 32 Croatia, # 34 Sweden, # 35 Ukraine, # 36 Slovakia, # 37 Lithuania, #39 Peru, # 40 Poland, # 41 Sri Lanka, # 42 Ireland, # 43 Rumania, # 44 Bulgaria, #46 Belarus, # 47 Greece.
        Here are some possibilities for the venues for the WBC’s First Round, Second Round, and Championship Round in March 2021:
        First Round
        Meiji Jingu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – by far and away the attendance leader in past Classics, Meiji Jingu is like Wrigley and Fenway while Tokyo Dome is dark, dank, ugly, like the old ugly US domes Astrodome, Kingdome, Metrodome
        Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
        Estadio Nacional Juan Marichal, Santo Domingo, Dominicana – the MLB Players Agreement states that MLB regular season games will be played here in 2020 and 2021
        Estadio Nacional Edgar Renteria, Barranquilla, Colombia – a brand new beautiful stadium
        Second Round
        Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
        Marlins Park, Miami, Florida
        Championship Round
        Big Egg Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan – Tokyo has by far the highest attendance for the Classic, just as Tokyo has supported the WBC, the WBC should return the favor and support Tokyo

      • Phil Lowry says:

        The four pools of the 2016 WBCQ were held as follows: one pool in February, two pools in March, and one pool in September. February and March would seem to be better since MLB players would then be available. Israel and Ireland “passport” players would also be available.

      • Our website has been built, in part, on the growing following for the WBC, so yes, it’s correct that I am interested in its varying levels!

        There’s an enormous body of work around structures to expand the WBC. I’ve read your suggestions on Baseball-Fever.com (though had not connected the two until I looked a moment ago to link you to the thread!) and, indeed, commented on them there. It’s fun to dream about expansion, but until the most recent WBC, it was quite possible the event would disappear altogether, so it’s unlikely it expands at the rate that international fans hope it does (as, essentially, MLB foots the bill for the WBCQ without any real benefit and, certainly, no profit).

        Taiwan and Mexico will certainly host rounds, but it’s very unlikely New Zealand does, though it would be great. We also concluded here that a Central American site, more likely Panamá, would host a third round, with Nicaragua in too much turmoil right now. The fourth will almost certainly be in the U.S.

        The only nation likely to miss out on being invited again of the list you made is Thailand. England has never competed in the WBC, though Great Britain, of which England is part, nearly made it to the main WBC. They will certainly not be culled, with the London Series and its legacy events proof that MLB is there to stay.

        Of those additions you propose, consider what is most important to MLB in any international endeavour: market size. If there are not tens of millions of new potential fans, all with money to spend, it is unlikely much money is spent. Almost every team on the list you have given would be annihilated by a current qualifier participant (with the exception of Pakistan and the Philippines) as they cannot draw many U.S. or East Asia-based professionals. Of the list, Argentina, Russia, and Greece are distant possibilities. I am sure MLB would love for India and Sri Lanka to step up, but adding them would be sending a lamb to the slaughter.

        You are right about Barranquilla’s new stadium, we enjoyed that at the Under-23 Euros.

        The conversation is much more lively on the International Baseball sub-reddit than Baseball Fever and I invite you to continue the discussion there with the passionate audience that has emerged. Great to have your interest!

        -Gabriel

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