World Baseball Classic picks: Best bets and top underdog

Baseball’s top international event – the World Baseball Classic – begins on Tuesday.

The newest: The Dominican Republic have just lost one of their biggest stars but remain a feared team. Japan possesses an impressive combination of MLB and NPB talent and Venezuela has a strong core of pitchers in a tournament that leaves many of the best guns at home.

Check out our World Baseball Classic picks for the tournament starting March 7th

World Baseball Classic picks

opportunities from 05/03/2023, 12:22 p.m.

World Baseball Classic picks

best bid : Dominican Republic (+220)

The Dominican Republic lost one of their biggest stars when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. retired from the WBC with a minor knee injury, but this team is still stacked.

Thanks to the presence of superstars like Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Rafael Devers and Julio Rodriguez, there has been some speculation that this is the best cast ever assembled. Perhaps Guerrero’s absence diminishes that accolade, but this group remains incredibly dangerous.

On the pitching side, they have one of the tournament’s best guns in Sandy Alcantara and a rotation of excellent big league players like Cristian Javier and Roansy Contreras – plus a bullpen full of fireballs.

The Dominican Republic are worthy favorites and should be able to pull themselves out of any trouble they encounter, especially in a tournament lacking in elite pitching talent.

Next best choice

Japan (+300): North American baseball fans won’t be familiar with everyone Japan is putting out, but the country has plenty of talent to showcase.

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That starts with Shohei Ohtani – the sport’s most dynamic player – and includes successful big leagues like Yu Darvish, Seiya Suzuki and Lars Nootbar.

Beyond the household names, there is an incredible talent pool of NPB players who are some of the best the sport has to offer. Not for nothing is Japan the most successful country in the history of the World Baseball Classic.

The Japanese have won this tournament two out of four times (2006 and 2009) with two third places (2013 and 2017).

Top underdog pick

Venezuela (+1,200): The Venezuelans don’t have as much star power as some of their competitors on the positional side, but they shouldn’t be underestimated.

A line-up featuring Jose Altuve, Salvador Perez, Luis Arraez, Eugenio Suarez and Ronald Acuna Jr. is no joke, but it’s this team’s pitching squad that impressed us.

Most countries struggle to get their upper arms out – a US rotation featuring Lance Lynn, Kyle Freeland, Merrill Kelly and Adam Wainwright is a case in point – but Venezuela has some excellent options, particularly when it comes to starters.

This rotation includes Pablo Lopez, Luis Garcia and Martin Perez with Elieser Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez and Ranger Suarez as alternate options. Those who don’t start should provide bullpen for a relief corps led by Jose Alvarado.

While this team won’t reach the level of some of its competitors, it will likely stay in every game.

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Nick Ashbourne writes about sports betting for NorthStar Bets. NorthStar Bets is owned by NordStar Capital, which also owns Torstar, Star’s parent company. Follow him on Twitter: @NickAshbourne

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