With the third ever World Baseball Classic in the books, we now know that the Dominican Republic is the new powerhouse of the international baseball world and Robbie Cano is a force to be reckoned with. If you were glued to your television like me, you also learned a lot of new names that enthusiasts can immediately start hyping up as the next Yoenis Cespedes or Yu Darvish. Let’s take a look at the best MLB players of the WBC as well as some big names from around the world that we likely never heard of and may never hear again.
Robinson Cano (DOM): 15/32, .469 BA, 1.296 OPS, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, 4 2B
The Yankee slugger took home World Baseball Classic MVP honors after batting .469 in eight games. His 15 hits are the most ever in a single tournament.
David Wright (USA): 7/16, .438 BA, 1.276 OPS, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 2 2B
In just 16 at-bats, Wright proved to be one of the few bright spots on a USA team that went just 3-3. Despite the United States getting eliminated in the second round, Wright’s 10 RBI is the highest total in the WBC. Unfortunately for Wright, his WBC ended with a strained rib cage that may now keep him out of Opening Day.
Mike Aviles (PUR): 10/31, .323 BA, .813 OPS, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB
The Indians’ newest infielder led the Puerto Rican team to a second-place finish with nine RBIs, good for second-best behind Wright. Although the entire Puerto Rican team was shut down in the finals, Aviles’ help was instrumental in getting them past Japan in the semi-final with two hits, an RBI, a run, and a walk.
Jose Abreu (CUB): 9/25, .360 BA, 1.145 OPS, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB
Abreu matched Aviles’ nine RBIs and blasted three home runs for the Cuban team before they were eliminated in the second round. Abreu won the Cuban league MVP in 2011 after batting a ridiculous .453 with a then-record 33 homers and 93 RBIs in just 66 games.
Alfredo Despaigne (CUB): 9/25, .389 BA, 1.466 OPS, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R
Despaigne and Abreu made for a strong middle of the lineup as they combined for six homers and 17 RBI in just six games. Despaigne is another Cuban superstar who set the Cuban home run record with 32 and then went on to hit 34 in 2012 after Abreu broke his record in 2011.
Michael Saunders (CAN): 8/11, .727 BA, 2.042 OPS, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 3 2B, 4 R, 1 SB
The 26-year-old Mariner had a nice season with 57 RBI and 21 SB last season but he is having an even better spring with a WBC-best .727 BA and seven RBIs in just 11 at-bats. Since returning to the Mariners, Saunders has also added another two homers and seven RBI in 40 at-bats.
Honorable MLB Mentions: Angel Pagan (12 hits), Jose Reyes (11 hits), Nelson Cruz (10 hits, 6 RBIs), Andrelton Simmons (10 hits, 6 RBI), Andruw Jones (9 hits), Joe Mauer (9 hits), Jimmy Rollins (9 hits), Edwin Encarnacion (6 RBIs), Anthony Rizzo (6 RBIs)
Kenta Maeda (JPN): 15 IP, 0.60 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 18 SO, 3 BB
Maeda is one of the best pitchers in Japan and certainly looked it with a WBC-best 18 strikeouts. The 24-year-old has a career 2.47 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in five seasons in the pros and will certainly garner MLB attention following his WBC campaign.
Hiram Burgos (PUR): 13 IP, 0.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 12 SO, 4 BB
Burgos is a prospect in the Brewers farm system and while he missed much of spring training he showed plenty in the WBC, allowing just one run over 13 innings. Last season in the minors Burgos went 10-4 with a 1.95 ERA and 1.04 WHIP and is definitely a guy to watch for as he moves up the ranks.
Samuel Deduno (DOM): 13 IP, 0.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 17 SO, 5 BB
Deduno was instrumental in helping the Dominican team win the gold, putting up five scoreless innings in the final game against Puerto Rico and striking out 17 batters in just 13 innings. The 29-year-old saw his first real big league action for the Twins last year pitching 79 innings and putting up a 4.44 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and striking out 57 while walking 53.
Chien-Ming Wang (TPE): 12 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 3 SO
The Majors haven’t always been kind to Wang but he looked great in the WBC, putting up 12 scoreless innings for Taiwan until they were eliminated in round two. Unfortunately for him, he is without a Major League team right now after putting up a miserable 6.68 ERA and 2.01 WHIP in 32 IP for the Nats last season.
Danny Betancourt (CUB): 10.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 11 SO, 3 BB
Betancourt has now represented Cuba in two World Baseball Classics as well as the 2004 Olympics. While he has put up 4.00+ ERAs in Cuba the last couple of years, he did not surrender a single run in the tournament before being eliminated in the second round.
Nelson Figueroa (PUR): 10 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 3 SO
The 39-year-old played in the minors for the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox last season and is trying to make the Diamondbacks this spring. If the DBacks were watching the WBC, they had to be impressed with just eight baserunners over 10 innings. He has also pitched five innings in spring training where he’s surrendered just one run on a homer and four hits.
Wandy Rodriguez (DOM): 9.1 IP, 0.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 6 SO, 3 BB
The 34-year-old is preparing for his first full season in Pittsburgh and he is off to a great start after allowing just one run in the WBC. He has also surrendered just one run in five spring innings while striking out three.
Fernando Rodney (DOM): 7.1 IP, 7 SV ,0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 8 SO, 3 BB
I had my doubts Rodney could repeat his 48 save, 0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP 2012 season after putting up a 4.42 ERA over the previous five years but if his WBC performance is any indication of where Rodney is right now then I do not envy anyone that has to bat against the Rays in the ninth. Rodney has also thrown another three scoreless innings in the spring, allowing just two baserunners while striking out four.