The best baseball nations in the world will once again come together to battle it out for supremacy in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. This fourth iteration of the event will take place over the course of 16 days from March 6 to 22. Of the 16 teams in the event, 14 will be making their fourth appearance while Colombia and Israel will be making their WBC debut.
Odds are tight near the top, but Team USA is a +200 favorite to be the last squad standing. America, which has never finished higher than fourth in the event, is stacked with MLB talent from top to bottom. Infield depth may be Team USA’s biggest strength, as the likes of Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Daniel Murphy will be suiting up for the club.
The defending champions come from the Dominican Republic (+250) and their all-star roster. Though pitching may be an issue for the club, their hitting is undeniable with Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado and Nelson Cruz forming one of the most terrifying lineups you could imagine.
Japan (+300) is close behind the USA and Dominican, as the two-time winners have never finished worse than third in the event. The roster features plenty of unknowns for most North Americans but is loaded with the elite players in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. The most intriguing player on the roster, who could soon be making his way to the MLB, is 22-year-old Shohei Otani. The youngster is quickly developing a cult following, as he has dominated both as a pitcher (career 2.49 ERA) and a DH (career .275 BA with 40 home runs).
One team to keep an eye on is Venezuela (+900). Two teams from each pool advance to the next round and Venezuela is in a relatively weak pool featuring Mexico, Italy and Puerto Rico. Venezuela should easily make it out of the first round but will have a tough task, as they will be competing against the top teams in Pool C (likely USA and Dominican Republic). However, Venezuela has a chance to win any time they send Felix Hernandez to the mound.
Odds as of February 8 at Bovada