As armchair managers around the country prepare for their Major League Baseball fantasy drafts, Team USA is preparing for their first appearance in the World Baseball Classic championship after defeating Japan 2-1 last night. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones drove in the winning run, a handful of US pitchers held Japan, who had been on a tear throughout the WBC, to just one run and Team USA will face Puerto Rico later tonight for the title.
Throughout the history of the World Baseball Classic, Japan has been nothing short of dominant, while the United States have struggled. Japan claimed the first two WBC titles, in 2006 and 2009, while earning bronze in 2013. The US only have a 4th place finish from 2009 to write home about while Puerto Rico, which is technically part of the United States, people forget that, made the finals during the last WBC in 2013 but had to settle for second. That means that no matter who wins on Wednesday night, there will be a new World Baseball Classic champion in 2017.
Aside from a historical significance of tonight, some of fantasy baseball’s best will be competing in this year’s final. According to ESPN’s Top 300 Rankings, two players from that list’s top ten will be suiting up for Team USA. Colorado Rockies 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado and Arizona Diamondbacks 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt should come off the board early in your fantasy baseball drafts and they’ll also hope to lead Team USA to victory.
Daniel Murphy (#28 on the ESPN Top 300), Giancarlo Stanton (#44), Chris Archer (#48) and Andrew McCutchen (#51) will also be in action tonight for Team USA. Puerto Rico doesn’t have anyone in the top ten but Carlos Correa, who plays shortstop for the Houston Astros, and Francisco Lindor, who plays the same position for the Cleveland Indians, are in the Top 25. Other big leaguers, Edwin Diaz (#94), Javier Baez (#195), Carlos Beltran (#182) and Yadier Molina (#220) round out the Puerto Rico lineup.
Win or lose for Team USA, the World Baseball Classic championship means one thing, fantasy baseball is right around the corner.