As I begin to write this, the final game of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) is being played.  The game is in the top of the 5th and Japan leads 3-1.  Despite the low-scoring affair so far, the game has many elements of previous games we’ve seen to date for the US squad.  Trea Turner is still unconscious at the plate, hitting HR #5 in the 2nd inning, and the lack of an Ace on the US pitching staff is being exposed yet again.  I feel for Mark DeRosa and Andy Pettitte having to manage a staff with one hand tied behind their backs.  Would this be different if Max Scherzer were toeing the rubber tonight?  Maybe, maybe not.  We’ll never know.

Much has been made of the timing and necessity of having an exhibition tournament so close to Opening Day.  I get it, MLB clubs are concerned with injuries to their players.  We’ve seen a couple of those, especially Edwin Diaz and Jose Altuve, which will have significant impacts to their MLB clubs.  It’s unfortunate that those have clouded what has been an outstanding tournament, but I won’t rehash those arguments here.  Practically every game this past week or so has felt like a World Series game (or better) to me.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the WBC and I hope you have too.

As I watch the final game, I wonder what the experience of participating in the WBC will have on MLB players once the season starts.  I harken back to my own playing days and remember the times when I played on All-Star teams as a younger man.  In my case, our All-Star tournaments were right in the middle of the season.  Our All-Star team was assembled by selecting a few players from each team in the league.  The tournament wasn’t local, we always traveled to another state for the competition.  Our team completed against 4-5 other All-Star teams in a 2-division round-robin format, with the winner of each division going to a 1-game championship against the winner of the other.  The margin of error was small if you were going to compete for the title.  We had to be ready in Game 1.  Well, we never won the title but did have some success a few times.

What is more relevant to me today though is what occurred after the tournaments.  For many of us who participated, we returned to our home teams and raked.  One year, I won the league batting title.  Another guy, not known as a power hitter, went on a second half run and led the league in long balls.  Another guy…well you get the picture.  Spending a week playing nothing but All-Star caliber players noticeably lifted our individual games back home.

My trip down memory lane took a little longer than it should have.  The game is now into the 7th inning and the US team hasn’t been able to crack the scoreboard any further.  Are we looking at yet another miraculous finish?  I hope so!

Back to work, LB…

Those of us starved for baseball tend to analyze March Spring Training results and extrapolate that to the early season.  There are many problems with that logic, and I don’t think I need to list those here.  If I did though, one of the top is that fact these games are not even “exhibition” games, they are “practice” games at best.  Established pitchers are not generally throwing their full arsenal of junk, but rather building innings or dialing in their delivery.  Likewise, established hitters have their own approach, working on timing at the plate or even on the basepaths.  The common theme, neither group is exactly “trying” to win the game.  It’s all about preparation.  Then, Opening Day arrives and the switch turns on.  Some players adjust well, while others do not.

This year is different, of course.  For many of the top players, that switch turned on a couple weeks ago when the WBC kicked off.  Throughout the tournament, we’ve been treated to several players already in mid-season form.  Trea Turner, Randy Arozarena, and Shohei Ohtani, just to name a few.  Will they be able to keep the intensity into April?  Will there be a letdown?  At a time like this, I wish I had a crystal ball.  But I don’t.  What I do have though is data and analytics.

For this week’s analysis, I’m going to carve up some numbers and see if we can make educated guesses (really, that’s all we can do here) on what we may see in April.

We’re a week away from Opening Day.  Why is this important, you ask?  Well, I don’t know about you, but I have 3 more drafts between now and then.  Does Trea Turner’s power surge lead to a bump up in Round 1?  Are we concerned at all about Mike Trout?  What about players later in the draft like Luis Arraez, does his performance at the WBC infuse some helium in his ADP?  Let’s see if we can find a nugget or two to help answer some questions like this.

Disclaimer:  Before I get to the analysis, let me just acknowledge that size does matter (sorry guys!).  In-season statistics don’t generally become relevant (for prediction purposes) until a couple months into the season.  So, making predictions based on 2 weeks of baseball is a fool’s errand.  Although my wife may provide a convincing argument at times, I do my best to not be a fool here!  Therefore, enjoy the read but please don’t wager your life savings based on my analysis here!


Let’s start with a few players who have already returned to their parent club.  Here are their basic WBC stats, sorted by ABs:

One can argue many of the players listed above got off to surprisingly hot starts in the WBC.  Here are a couple that stand out to me:

Isaac Paredes: Thought to be in a positional battle for the Rays 3B job, he did little to hurt his case for securing that spot.  The strong AVE is encouraging for a player who has never surpassed .220 in the bigs.  Over his first 3 years, his OPS has been steadily increasing (up to .739 in 2022) so the near 1.000 during the WBC is promising.  For a player with exactly 0 SBs in his MLB career, swiping a bag here suggests he may take advantage of the new configurations and end the season with something other than a donut in the SB column.  Despite the positives, there are a couple red flags to point out.  His 6 Ks over 24 ABs is generally in line with his 3-yr MLB average of almost 19%.  Additionally, the BB/K rate of .333 is substantially below his 2022 numbers of .657.  Over a larger sample size, we’d expect a player averaging over 11% BB rate to normalize.  Lastly, a disappointing ISO of .125 (remember, MLB league average is .140) for a player who surpassed .220 last season causes us to pump the breaks a bit as well.  All-in-all, there’s a lot to like about his performance during the WBC.  To me, he’s definitely worth a flyer late in drafts as a 3B/CI stash.

Joey Meneses:  Following his 56-game stint with the Nats, where he “chipped” in 13 HRs and 34 RBIs, Joey picked right up where he left off for Team Mexico.  His 3-5, 2 HR and 5 RBI game versus Team USA made up the bulk of his stat line for the tournament.  More importantly, though, it sent a much-needed jolt of optimism to Nationals fans.  From a fantasy perspective though, what we saw during the full tournament more likely represents our season expectations.  The lack of a single BB suggests the below average EYE (batting eye) from 2022 will still suppress his below average BB rate. Likewise, a .348 BABIP and .222 ISO during the WBC were below his 2022 numbers.  Despite the excitement he generated last Aug/Sep, his contact rate during that stretch was barely over the MLB average.  Over a full season, everything I see points to Joey having a hard time surpassing a stat line of .324/.367/.563 produced over the final two months of the 2022 season.

Now to the Championship Game participants (spoiler alert:  I know how the game ended but more on that later…).

Looking over these stats for Team USA and Team Japan, there are very few disappointments.  As expected, the stars showed up and gave all of us baseball fans a treat.

Trea Turner:  Although Shohei Ohtani won the MVP (well-deserved, of course), to me Trea Turner was the standout performer of the WBC.  For a player more known for his speed (2022 Spd of 145 and SB% 0.90) than power (xHR of 22), he led the tournament with 5 HRs.  Fun fact: Trea more than doubled the HR output of his new teammates (Kyle Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto).  Scoreboard: Turner 5, Schwarbs/J.T. 2.  Will he be able to bottle up his power stroke and take it north to Philly?

Mike Trout:  Are you concerned about Mike Trout’s 12 Ks?  Certainly, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is.  Apparently, all Trout does is strike out.  You know it’s a bad take when even Stephen A. Smith winces in disgust.  Remember when I said I had 3 drafts left?  Well, if Trout’s draft stock slips due to his WBC stats, I’ll be there to provide a soft-landing spot.  Hey, for anyone coming off a season with a xHR of 40, contact rate of 83%, and both Brl% and HR/F more than double the league average, you are buying the dip…any dip…period…end of discussion!  Sure, the days of double-digit SB are probably gone.  However, we all should be more concerned about Trout being on the field all season, rather than how dirty he gets his uniform when he’s there.

WBC Wrap up

Well, the WBC is now in the books and we’re less than a week away from the start of the 2023 MLB season.  What a way to go out by the way – Ohtani vs Trout.  Game over.  Japan 3 – USA 2.  The only thing that would have made this final game better is extra innings.

Also, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall on their first day back at Angels camp.  Both are class acts so I’m sure it wasn’t all that dramatic, but still…  What a finish!

Baseball fans were treated to some of the best games we’ve seen in a long time during the WBC:   Japan vs Korea! USA vs Venezuela (Turner’s grand slam)! Japan vs Mexico!  USA vs Japan!  Just to name a few.  Let’s not forget the excitement around teams like Great Britain, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Italy, and Australia.

Of course, we hate to see significant injuries occur at any point, so losing Edwin Diaz and Jose Altuve for significant time is truly unfortunate.  I wish them both a speedy recovery.  For those out there blaming the WBC, yet more really putrid takes by some once-respected personalities, shame on you!  Injuries happen.  It’s part of the game.  How does your mental gymnastics now reconcile Rhys Hoskins’ injury?

Quoting a famous scholar, “Mama always said, it’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”  Ok, maybe I’m paraphrasing but you get the picture.

All of baseball (players, fans, the game, etc.) are winners coming out of this WBC.  Who can argue when some of the best players in the game say these were the best they’ve ever played in.

Shohei Ohtani, “This is the best moment in my life.”

Mike Trout, “This is the most fun I’ve had on a baseball field in a while.”

Eduardo Escobar, “No matter the position you play, the most important thing is that we are representing our country and we have one name, Venezuela.”

Edwin Diaz, “This is the most waited-for event in Puerto Rico.  Everyone is always waiting for the WBC.”   

William Escala, Czech Republic (after being hit by a pitch by Japan’s star pitcher Roki Saskai), “He gave me some goodies, and a bunch of different candies and stuff like that.  And then I asked him if he could sign the ball as a memory for me.  Something I will keep.  Very cool.  Something I’ll cherish and never forget.


As I wrap up my pre-season analytics articles here, I want to thank everyone who has read and commented on my work.  I hope the articles have brought some insight, understanding, and appreciation for how baseball analytics can enhance the fantasy baseball experience.  Sure, all these acronyms may be intimidating on the surface but once you start navigating the alphabet soup, you’ll find there’s a wealth of information there for the taking.

I look forward to continuing this journey with you throughout the season.  Check back on Fridays for closer looks at analytical trends and player performance, all of which will be geared to helping you win your fantasy leagues or even DFS.

Before I go though, there are still a couple RCL leagues drafting early next week with openings.  Be sure to get into one of these RCLs for your chance at competing against me and many of our Razzball writers.  Here is the link again (RCL Registration Here).  Who knows, you can win some of Grey’s hard-earned $$ at the same time.

Special thanks to Matt Truss (@MattTruss) and Grey (@Razzball) for putting this competition together and sponsoring the prizes.

Also, don’t forget to visit the Razzball rankings page (https://razzball.com/2023-fantasy-baseball-rankings/) for everything you need to prepare for upcoming fantasy baseball drafts.

Lastly, you can follow me on Twitter: @Derek_Favret.

Until next time, my friends!