For many this is the unofficial World Cup of baseball; the sport’s premier international tournament featuring some of the very finest players on the planet.
The World Baseball Classic 2017 is the third edition of this competition and features a truly pan-global appeal, with pool matches taking place from March 6 onwards in the USA, Mexico, Japan and South Korea.
Then from March 12-19 we will see the second round of matches, which will feature the winners and runners up of Pools A and B going at it, and the same from Pools C and D.
The four countries that emerge victorious from this phase of the competition will head to the world-famous Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles for the semi-finals on March 20-21 and then the final on March 22.
1. The Bookies Choice
The Dominican Republic are the reigning champions after an immaculate 8-0 record in the 2013 staging of the event, and if you are completely new to baseball then it might surprise you to learn that this island is one of the finest nations currently playing the sport. They are jostling to be the bookmakers’ favourites with the USA here.
So can the Dominicans retain their title, or will a new champion be crowned?
The defending champions are in as short as 3.50 to retain their crown with bet365, and that does look a fair price.
Other than the Dominican Republic, teams to watch and back will surely be USA (3.90) and an intriguing looking Mexico outfit (21.00).
2. Where the Money Is - Betting Tips
Essentially the same side that claimed the honours at WBC 2013 is back for the Dominican Republic, plus a few new faces that have since been named All-Stars, so the reigning champions come into this year’s event stronger than ever before. The likes of Robinson Cano and the hotly-tipped Alex Reyes are ready to go to war for their country.
But then you could argue that the USA’s 28-man squad is as strong as any other in the competition on the back of a strong showing from a number of their players in the MLB. This could well be their best chance of securing success in a WBC renewal.
And we have to recommend a small wager on Mexico too, who despite featuring in a tough pool that also includes Venezuela and Puerto Rico will still be expected to progress to the last eight.
They own a 2-1 head-to-head lead over America in recent years, and tied a recent series with the impressive Japan. But what could be crucial is that they will have home advantage in Pool D, and if they can reach the knockout phase would have a large stack of support from native Mexicans in LA and San Diego.
It will be a fascinating tournament no matter what, but our betting picks are the Dominican Republic and a small flutter on Mexico.
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