The WBSC released its new rankings yesterday, taking into account more than 250 new games played, including the Under-15 World Cup and numerous continental championships. The U.S. retained its rightful place at the top after winning the U15 global title and the U12 Pan-American Championship, while the next three nations—Japan, South Korea, and Cuba—all maintained their positions. The top 12 teams at the end of the year will make the cut for the Premier 12, an Olympic Games qualifier.
Numbers five through 10 saw some shuffling, with Taiwan sliding up one spot to fifth after accruing the most points thus far this year. The Asian nation earned bronze at the U15s and Asian Games, winning the U12 Asian title and placing second at the U18 level continentally. It exchanged places with Mexico, while the Netherlands moved up two places to No. 7, overtaking Australia and Canada.
Currently, the other three teams in contention for the Premier 12 are Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. With only the U23 World Cup remaining, the first two are safe, but the D.R.—which does not compete in some events, hurting its ranking—is only six points ahead of Panamá. The current No. 13, however, did not qualify for the U23s, likely leaving the Dominicans ahead of the cut.
One notable country will be left outside of baseball’s next top tournament as Italy fell to fifteenth, down from a peak of No. 9 in 2015. Just ahead of Europe’s second-ranked nation is Nicaragua, which fell one place.
While many teams lower in the rankings had more significant jumps, one nation continues its ascendancy, climbing for the fifth-straight year and eighth out of nine. Since starting 2010 at No. 27 in the world, Colómbia is now at No. 16 with 1007 points, just 128 behind Italy. Close on its heels is another country experiencing a prolonged breakout in Brazil.
Asia had a number of impressive risers, partly due to a larger number of games than normal this year. The top riser of any continent is No. 31 Indonesia (up 16), while Sri Lanka went up 11 to No. 41, Nepal went from 73rd to 65th, and the Philippines went up seven to No. 33. Europe had three big movers as the Ukraine went from No. 43 to No. 34 and Ireland jetted up nine spots to No. 42, while No. 58 Georgia went up 10 after a few years of dormancy. Finally, Chile may be a nation to watch as it is now tied at No. 50 after a four-year run that saw it gain 10 places from 2017, eight in 2016, and 13 in 2015.
Below are the rankings by continental federation. The full rankings can be found here [link].
5 Puerto Rico
7 Dominican Republic
16 El Salvador
22 Costa Rica
23 US Virgin Islands
2 South Korea
6 Hong Kong
9 Sri Lanka
3 Czech Republic
15 Great Britain
2 New Zealand
4 American Samoa