2023 World Baseball Classic Pool B Preview: Tokyo

We continue our WBC Pool previews with Pool B: Tokyo.

About the Venue: The Tokyo Dome is the largest baseball stadium in the largest metropolitan area in the world and the go-to place for MLB events in Japan. Holding over 45 thousand fans for baseball, the air-supported dome is normally home to the Yomiuri Giants, the most successful team in Japanese baseball. The “Big Egg” has symmetrical dimensions (329 to the corners, 375 to the alleys, 400 to center) and has over the years also played host to concerts, boxing (including Mike Tyson‘s infamous defeat at the hands of Buster Douglas), professional wrestling, NFL exhibition games, and mixed martial arts. It is also the location of Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame.

About The Pool: It’s not quite accurate to call this the “Pacific pool”, since the Czech Republic is there, but it’s pretty close: four of the five teams are on the Pacific Ocean. Japan and Korea are definitely the big names here, but Australia is always scrappy and could pull an upset. China and the Czech Republic will likely prove canon fodder to the larger teams but should still be interesting to watch given how rarely we see their players against top competition.

Go below the jump for the full preview.

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2023 World Baseball Classic Pool Previews: Introduction/Glossary

We are less than a month from the start of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, and this week I’ll be doing pool previews.

But first, an explanation of what will be included in each pool’s preview.

First off, each pool will have the following:

About the Venue: Info on the stadium where it will take place. Pretty self-explanatory.

About The Pool: A general overview of the pool. Summing up the basic storylines to keep an eye on.

Pool Outlook: My outright predictions for the pool.

For every country, there will be these bits:

About The Country: Again, largely self-explanatory. Just a bit about the country, its history, etc. Probably will include a fun fact, as well!

Baseball History: The history of baseball in that country. Needless to say, this can vary greatly.

International Baseball History: The history of the country in the WBC, Olympics, and other international play.

Road to the WBC: How the team qualified for this WBC. For most countries, this will basically be “did well enough in the last WBC.”

(Insert Country Name Here)’s Baseball League: Info on the current structure of baseball in that country- what their top league is, etc.

(Insert Country Name Here) MLB Players: A look at MLB players from that country through history as well as how many (if any) are on the team.

Notable names: The most notable players on the team.

Highest Achievers: Other notable players who have reached highest in the continuum of baseball leagues.

Ones to Watch: Generally will be for younger players who aren’t really well-known or MLB now, but could be in the future.

Manager/Coaching Staff: A bit about the manager and coaching staff of the team.

Outlook: General overview of the country/team and how they might do in the pool.

We start tomorrow with Pool A!

World Baseball Classic Update 7/27/2022: An Aussie confirmed, Team Pakistan starts to take shape, and more.

Curtis Mead, a top-100 prospect who plays in the Rays organization, told an MiLB reporter that he plans to play for Australia next year. It should be noted, however, that the Adelaide-born infielder has had an injury since then, so that could change.

In Qualifier news, Team Pakistan is starting to take shape. Infielder Alex Khan of West Virginia University has been confirmed by the Pakistani team’s Twitter feed, and Pakistani-Canadian infielder Ahmad Mahmood (a commit to a community college in California) has had his participation confirmed by both his Twitter bio and a tweet from his old baseball academy. Other players either confirmed or implied for qualifiers by the Pakistani baseball federation’s Twitter page include former DIII player Shahid Shattar, community college outfielder Sami Khan, 16-year-old pitcher Amaan Khan, former Astros draftee Omar Arif, Citadel baseball player Rohan Shah, Tulane pitcher Blake Mahmood, Bethune-Cookman pitcher Amir Asghar, Canadian college pitcher Adam Khan, and Lyad Ansari, the nephew of a internationally-experienced cricket player. While the Pakistani team will likely be massively outgunned in qualifying against teams from places like Panama and Nicaragua that will primarily have professionals, you never know what might happen in baseball. One of my favorite WBC memories, for example, is when a bullpen for Team Brazil that included a 16-year-old amateur was able to close out Colombia.

On the business side of things, a Korean paper looked into why Korea isn’t hosting a round in next year’s tournament. Reasons include the want to have as many Japan-Korea games as possible, fairly low attendance in 2017 in Korea for the WBC (not helped by a surprise early elimination for Team Korea), and the fact that apparently Taiwan lobbied for a round more than Korea did.