WBC Round 2 Preview: Pool 2 (Miami)

Japan and the Netherlands have already qualified for the final four of the WBC, but who will join them? That will be decided in Miami, where three of baseball’s traditional powers are joined by the surprising Italian team to determine who will escape to San Francisco. Go below the jump for my preview of the double elimination round:

About the venue: Marlins Park. Built at great expense, seating over 36 thousand customers, and featuring a freaky home run sculpture machine in the outfield, it is possibly the most controversial stadium in Major League Baseball… and that’s not even bringing in the actions of the Marlins’ front office. It is generally regarded as a pitcher’s park.

About the pool:
Two of the teams in the pool (USA and the Dominican Republic) were expected to be here, another (Puerto Rico) is only a slight surprise, but then there is a totally out-of-nowhere team: Italy.

Dominican Republic

Got here by: Going 3-0 in Pool C, finishing first

What they call baseball: Béisbol

First Round Star: Robinson Cano, who hit .600 with a HR and 5 RBIs during the first round, where he was the Pool C MVP.

Biggest Rival in the Pool: Traditionally, it would be Puerto Rico, a result of the long Caribbean Series rivalry. However, it’s safe to say that the Dominican Republic is also certainly keeping an eye on Team USA. Amazingly, the two nations that have produced the most MLB players have never faced each other in the WBC.

Will get out of the pool if: They play like they are supposed to and the starting pitching holds up.

Will be eliminated if: Their starting pitching fails them, their bats die or they are hit by just plain bad luck. It’s entirely possible that this team is talented enough where all three would need to happen to stop them. But then again, this is baseball.

United States of America

Got here by: Going 2-1 in Pool D, winning pool due to tiebreaker with Italy

What they call baseball: Baseball, of course.

First Round Star: David Wright, who hit .455 and who’s grand slam against Italy helped keep Team USA alive.

Biggest Rival in the Pool: There is no real rival, but the Dominican is certainly the team that comes closest to being one, again because they are the two largest suppliers of MLB talent yet have never faced each other.

Will get out of the pool if: They play like they are supposed to.

Will be eliminated if: They play like they did against Mexico. Or if Joe Torre screws up badly trying to somehow win the tournament while also paying attention to his buddies in the managerial and front offices around the league.

Puerto Rico

Got here by: Going 2-1 in Pool C, falling only to the Dominican

What they call baseball: Béisbol

First Round Star: Angel Pagan led the team in OPS during round 1.

Biggest Rival in the Pool: The Dominican- they beat Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico, after all.

Will get out of the pool if: Their pitching continues to do well- of teams still in contention at the classic, the Puerto Ricans have the best ERA and are tied for the lowest WHIP.

Will be eliminated if: The pitching falters and the hitting doesn’t pick up the slack to make up for it.

Italy

Got here by: Going 2-1 in Pool D, 2nd place due to tiebreakers.

What they call baseball: Baseball

First Round Star: Chris Colabello. The Italian-American had a HR, 4 RBIs and a .455 BA in the first round.

Biggest Rival in the Pool: None, really. The only rival of Italy, the Netherlands, is on the other side of the brackets.

Will get out of the pool if: The eclectic mix of Italians and Italian-Americans continue to hit then they need to get a little bit of luck.

Will be eliminated if: The luck runs out against the highly-talented teams in the pool.

Prediction:

I predict that the Dominican Republic and USA will advance, but given the madness of baseball, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Puerto Rico in place of either of those two teams. Really, the only surprise would be if Italy gets out of the pool.

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5 thoughts on “WBC Round 2 Preview: Pool 2 (Miami)

  1. I’m Dominican and I’ve been fantasizing a DR vs USA match ever since I was 7 years old(20 years ago). But even then, there is no way you can say that the DR rival is the US in a group that also includes PR. The DR and PR baseball rivalry dates back to decades ago. I’d say it is perhaps the biggest baseball rivalry between two countries on this side of the world(remember that teams from this countries face each other every year in the Caribbean Series).

  2. This WBC has been very exciting this time around. I expect PR to do what the Netherlands did and eliminate a giant from the tournament.

    It seems like Netherlands can be the poison for some teams: Cuba-13 and DR -09. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see DR face Netherlands in a semi-final game?

    • Mex, I wanted the DR to face the Netherlands in the semis and Cuba in the finals to avenge both ’06 and ’09, but I guess I’ll have to settle just with avenging ’09 ….

      I mentioned this from the beginning, this Netherlands team is actually quite strong. The team from ’09 had Randall Simon as its #3 hitter, but the team from this year was running a 1-6 of Simmons-Schoop-Bernardina-Balentien-Andruw-Bogaerts which is actually significantly better than 4 years ago. They beat Cuba twice in the ’11 WC, once in the practice game they played before the WBC and twice in the WBC, that is 5 straight games.

      As far as PR knocking down USA or the DR, it is certainly possible. Any team that can beat Venezuela in a game, can beat the DR or USA in one game, but I really think that the odds of Netherlands beating Cuba in a game are significantly higher than the odds of PR beating DR or USA in a game. PR has no pitching depth at all.

      BTW, congrats on that win against the US, it was a great and very emotional game, too bad we wont be seeing you guys here in Miami. I really wanted the DR to play against Mexico after watching that game.

      • Mexico’s lose to Italy really messed everything up. Mexico did show up with one of the better bullpens but that lose put too much pressure on them. To the point were they lost their head against Canada.

        The Caribbean World Series final was a classic and their were players from Mexico and DR that were playing in the WBC. That would have been interesting to watch a sort of rematch game.

        I agree with your point on the Netherlands. They shocked the world in 2009, but know they confirmed that they are a solid baseball team. This is going to sound weird but I would like the US to make it the finals but lose. I really would like to see the US feel like they have to put a Dream Team together to win this. I want the team to get so close to taste it and feel that hunger.

        The tournament doesn’t need complete acceptance in the states to succeed because it is without it, however when it does happen I think the WBC will take off.

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