Action in Pool B, set to take place in Tokyo, for the 2023 World Baseball Classic is set to kick off this week. Five teams will enter pool play, but just two will advance to the quarterfinals in Japan. With that said, let’s look at our picks for Pool B in the 2023 WBC.
Pool B of the 2023 WBC
In reality, Pool B is set to be a three-team race. Both China and the Czech Republic are going to have a tough time with Australia, Korea, and Japan, all of whom have formidable groups.
Australia is an emerging country from a baseball standpoint, and does bring several current Minor Leagues and a former MLB player in ex-Tigers reliever Warwick Saupold. However, there’s not a whole lot of depth on this roster. Sure, Australia should be able to handle China and the Czechs. But, it’s going to take quite the upset in order for the Aussies to get past the two most powerful teams in Pool B.
Team Korea has some explosiveness in the lineup, thanks to Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman, Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim and reigning KBO MVP Jung-Hoo Lee. Edman and Kim are both proven bats, while Lee is set to showcase himself to the 30 MLB teams this month. The 24-year-old is reportedly set to be posted to MLB teams after the 2023 KBO season, and may very well be in a Major League lineup come next spring.
However, Team Japan is the clear frontrunner entering pool play in Pool B. The host country for Pool B, Japan’s group is headlined by Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish. It won’t be easy getting hits off this group, nor will its lineup be an easy out. Even though outfielder Seiya Suzuki will miss the WBC due to an oblique injury, Ohtani, Mastaka Yoshida, and slugger Munetaka Murakami are going to give opposing pitchers fits. If you haven’t heard of Murakami just yet, you will after this tournament. Murakami cracked 56 home runs in Japan last season, and may be headed to the Majors in the very near future.
Our picks to advance in Pool B are Japan (B1) and Korea (B2).