Does Team Canada Have a Shot at Winning the 2017 World Baseball Classic?

2017 Canadian WBC Roster

 

Here are the players that make up the 2017 Canadian team playing in the World Baseball Classic (WBC). The long list of pitchers, this year’s team is carrying 14 pitchers, on this year’s roster are (in alphabetical order) Andrew Albers, John Axford, Kevin Chapman, Shane Dawson, Ryan Dempster, Eric Gagne, Jim Henderson, Chris Leroux, Adam Loewen, Scott Mathieson, Dustin Molleken, Nick Pivetta, Scott Richmond and Rowan Wick. Out of these pitchers, only three stand out and two of them are retired and they are – Axford, Dempster & Gagne!

They will carry two catchers in Kellin Deglan and George Kottaras.

This year’s team will carry eight infielders including Freddie Freeman, Jonathan Malo, Justin Morneau, Josh Naylor, Pete Orr, Daniel Pinero, Jamie Romak and Eric Wood. Out of this group, only two jump out at me and they play the same position, first base, and unless they get to use a Designated Hitter (DH) neither will be in the game at the same time – Freeman and Morneau.

The 2017 team will only carry four outfielders which seems to me to be at least one less than they should. They are Michael Crouse, Tyler O’Neill, Dalton Pompey and Rene Tosoni.

 

Players on the 2017 WBC Team that Can Benefit the Most if they Play Well

John Axford, George Kottaras and Dalton Pompey can all benefit the most from good performances in the 2017 WBC.

Axford is coming off a tough season that saw his value take a hit due to another mediocre season in 2016. One would have hoped he’d have a better 2016 season after saving 25 games in 2015 for the Rockies after not reaching the 20 save mark since 2010-2012. Stats taken from Baseball-Reference.com’s John Axford page.

Kottaras is currently a free agent so a good showing in the 2017 WBC could earn him a contract.

Pompay has yet to display the talent he was touted to have coming up through the Blue Jays farm system. He has yet to hit over .235 and hasn’t even staying in the majors long enough to have a decent cup of coffee – he played 17 games in 2014, 34 games in 2015 and a mere 8 games last season.

 

Current MLB Canadian Players NOT in the 2017 WBC

 

Here is a listing of the current MLB Canadians who, for one reason or another, are NOT playing in the 2017 WBC. They are Jim Adduci – I don’t even know who he is, infielder Brett Lawrie of the White Sox – they could use him, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin – more on him later, outfielder Michael Saunders – he was on the team at one time, but we’ll get to that in a minute,  first baseman Joey Votto – are you kidding me, they could absolutely use him and pitchers Scott Diamond, Shawn Hill, James Paxton – another one they could surely use and Rob Zastryzny.

According to Bob Elliott’s article entitled, “Martin & Saunders Out, Crouse & Pinero In, Final WBC Roster” Russell Martin was anticipating playing Short Stop for the Canucks, but due to legalities with the Blue Jays (insurance problems), and the fact that he had 2016 season ending knee surgery those hopes look to have been dashed. Saunders said he would only play in the WBC if he was still a free agent, but he recently signed on with the Phillies, ending his roster availability.

In this CBS Sports article by Mike Axisa, Votto released a statement basically saying that he is choosing not to play in the 2017 WBC to work on aspects of his game that were not up to his high standards in 2016 and he feels the need to work on those in Spring Training.

Mr. & Mrs. Paxton

In a video from MLB.com, Paxton explains his reasons for not playing in the WBC, after consulting with his agent & the Mariners were due to his late start to training for the 2017 season due to his marriage (can’t say that I can blame him for that one – see image to the right) and the fact that he’s looking to increase his innings with the Mariners this season and playing in the WBC would limit his innings.

 

Best Players on the 2017 WBC Team

 

Maybe this sums up the 2017 Canadian WBC team … two of their, quite possibly, best players are retired MLB stars in Dempster and Gagne. What they need to be a contender are a few current top players like the ones listed above.

 

Who will they play in the 1st Round?

 

Game one for Team Canada will be played on Thursday, March 9th against the Dominican Republic – probably a loss as the Dominican team is very good and is likely the 2nd seed in the tournament. Their next game will be on Saturday, March 11th against the Colombian National Team and their third first round game will be on Sunday, March 12th against Team USA – probably another loss as the US team is also very strong!

 

Can The 2017 Canadian WBC Team Win?

 

If I was going to be betting on the Canadian Baseball team some say I would have 66 to 1 odds which would be a good payout, but I don’t think they have a serious shot at winning! Actually, the SB Nation blog Talking Chop’s article, “Team USA early favorite in World Baseball Classic odds” –  which would be a WBC first, has team USA and eight other teams ahead of Team Canada.

Maybe if Votto, Paxton, Saunders, Martin & Lawrie played for their Country in the 2017 WBC they would have a better chance at winning, but without them, they just lack the talent to overcome the power houses that are team USA and the Dominican Republic.

I would also question why recently retired players such as pitchers Eric Bedard and Rich Harden and batters Matt Stairs and Jason Bay (or even Larry Walker) aren’t more eager to play – do you think they could help this team win?

Who has Worse Odds to Win the 2017 WBC?

 

Take heart my Canadian friends, there are also six teams with worse chances than team Canada has at winning the 2017 WBC – Israel, Italy, Colombia, China, Australia and Chinese Taipei.

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