2023 World Baseball Classic Odds Update And Preview

Dominican Republic Is Clear Favorite

As teams’ rosters have been finalized and the entire picture of the tournament has become much clearer, the 2023 World Baseball Classic’s favorite has emerged: the Dominican Republic. After opening as co-favorites with the United States in the World Baseball Classic 2023 odds, the DR has remained at +200 to win the 2023 WBC while Team USA has dipped down to +275 and Japan has improved to +275. Those three teams make up the definitive top tier of the field with a huge gap between them and the rest of the pack.

That doesn’t mean teams like Venezuela and Puerto Rico are completely out of the mix but they have a tough task ahead of them if they want to outlast the three top teams. It doesn’t help that both Venezuela and Puerto Rico are in the Dominican Republic’s Pool D (out of which only two teams can advance) while Team USA and Japan are in the relatively weak Pool C and Pool B, respectively. Pool A — headlined by The Netherlands, Chinese Taipei and Cuba — kicks off the tournament early Wednesday morning.

With that said, upsets are commonplace in the WBC so anything can happen. Israel was a great example of that in the 2017 WBC, sweeping its pool — and knocking out host South Korea in the process — despite barely making the tournament as a qualifier. With the relatively small sample size of pool play and the quick lead-in time to the tournament itself, the best “on paper” teams don’t always do the best. In that way, WBC records can look much different from MLB records. Still, it’s worth it to break down the top teams and see how they stack up against each other. Let’s take a look:

Dominican Republic (+200)

With Sandy Alcantara leading the rotation and the likes of Juan Soto, Julio Rodríguez, Manny Machado and Rafael Devers in the lineup, the Dominican Republic is a very understandable favorite. This is a loaded roster especially in the infield and the bullpen. It’s going to be extremely difficult for opposing pitching staffs to go through that lineup unscathed (even without the injured Vladimir Guerrero Jr.).

But, Pool D is probably the toughest group in the WBC so it’s not a foregone conclusion that the DR will be able to beat out both Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Plus, the aforementioned Israel team might not feature a ton of starpower but returns some pieces from the impressive 2017 run. Nicaragua might not put up as much of a fight, though.

The Dominican Republic should escape pool play and, if it does, it’s certain to be a heavy favorite on the MLB odds to run the table. That’s even with Framber Valdez and Luis Castillo deciding to skip the tournament after initially looking like key cogs of the DR’s rotation.

USA (+275)

The World Baseball Classic 2023 odds have soured on Team USA a bit over the past few weeks, pushing the Pool C hosts down into a tie with Japan. The US has been hurt by a few starting pitcher dropouts, as Clayton Kershaw, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Logan Webb had all been expected to suit up for the red, white and blue before dropping out due to injuries and/or personal choice.

The Americans’ lineup is still incredible — Trea Turner, Pete Alonso, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts and Mike Trout is the makings of a super team — but the rotation is very, thin and the bullpen is only slightly better. Adam Wainwright might get the Game 1 nod for Team USA which is saying a lot.

Japan (+275)

Of course, Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani are the big names at the top of the heap for Japan and a rotation led by those two guys is sure to give Japan a great chance to advance out of Pool B. But, don’t sleep on Rōki Sasaki— the 21-year-old flamethrowing starter — and the rest of Japan’s NPB-heavy roster even if they might not be household MLB names. Japan is always a tough out and, as everyone knows from the MLB playoffs, if you have elite top-end starting pitching, you’re always tough to beat.

Japan’s lineup took a hit, literally, when Seiya Suzuki had to withdraw from the WBC due to a hamstring injury, though, so creating offense could be an issue. If Darvish and Ohtani are on the top of their games (for Ohtani both on the mound and at the plate), then they could lead Japan themselves.

Venezuela (+850)

The World Baseball Classic 2023 odds don’t like Team Venezuela’s pitching staff nor the fact that Venezuela is stuck in the brutal Pool D. Venezuela does have a very nice rotation in Pablo López, Martín Pérez, Ranger Suárez and Luis Garcia but the bullpen depth is pretty slim which could diminish the effect that the starters have on run prevention. Venezuela could try to piggyback starters to minimize how much it has to use its ‘pen but that could be a risky move in this kind of tournament where guys only have a few weeks of Spring Training under their belts.

The lineup is solid but doesn’t feature much power outside of Ronald Acuña Jr., Jose Altuve and Eugenio Suárez. Venezuela should be able to get on base a lot, however, with lots of contact-focused guys (led by Luis Arraez) which bodes well for their ability to scratch out runs. It’s not the star-laden group that the Dominican Republic or Team USA has but it’s still a pretty good one.

Puerto Rico (+1200)

Puerto Rico’s odds have essentially flipped with Venezuela’s since the odds opened up with Puerto Rico moving from +800 to +1200 and Venezuela going from +1200 to +875. Puerto Rico losing Carlos Correa from its infield played a big role in that as they just don’t have a ton of offensive firepower beyond Francisco Lindor (and Javy Baéz if he can make some contact). Correa would have been huge for the middle of that lineup.

Also, while Puerto Rico has an elite “back-of-bullpen” with the Díaz brothers (Edwin and Alexis) and Jorge López, they only have one legitimate MLB-caliber starter in Marcus Stroman. That’s going to be a major problem and it really limits what Puerto Rico will be able to do in the WBC.

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