Angels stars Ohtani and Trout headline World Baseball Classic roster reveal

By Sports Desk February 13, 2023

Eight players who have won a Major League Baseball MVP award during their careers will take part in this year's World Baseball Classic as rosters for the 20 participating teams were revealed.

Five of those players will be competing for the defending champion United States squad, that will be captained by Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout. The three-time American League MVP will be part of a potentially fearsome lineup that also includes 2022 National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt and Los Angeles Dodgers standouts Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

Another Dodger and former NL MVP, Clayton Kershaw, will help anchor a pitching staff as the U.S. attempts to duplicate its victory in the most recent WBC held in 2017.

Venezuela is the only other nation with multiple former MLB MVPs and will be captained by longtime Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who is expected to retire at the end of the 2023 season. The Venezuelan roster also includes 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros as well as Atlanta Braves sensation Ronald Acuna Jr.

Japan, the only nation with more than one WBC title, will be headlined by Trout’s Angels teammate and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. The 2021 AL MVP is joined by the reigning Nippon Baseball MVP Munetaki Murakami for the 2006 and 2009 champions.

Team USA and Japan would have to each advance to at least the semifinals for an unprecedented matchup between Ohtani and Trout to take place.

"I don’t even know what to tell 'em," Trout told MLB Network during the roster reveal show when asked if he would offer Team USA a scouting report on Ohtani. "I'm watching him from center field pitching – he's got the best stuff in the league, I think. I don't think I've talked to anybody in the league who wants to face that dude.

"At the plate, he’s got very little weaknesses. Nothing even comes to the top of my head."

Team USA will play their first-round games in Phoenix as part of the Group C bracket that also includes Mexico, Colombia, Canada and first-time participant Great Britain. Japan will be the host nation for Group B play, which will take place in Tokyo with South Korea, Australia, China and the Czech Republic also in the pool.

Venezuela will head to Miami to be part of a loaded Group D field that contains tournament betting favourite Dominican Republic as well as 2013 and 2017 runner-up Puerto Rico.

The Dominican team, which captured the title in 2013, features 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara atop its pitching staff and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez among a star-studded crop of position players that also includes sluggers Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Manny Machado, Rafael Devers and Wander Franco.

First-round play is scheduled to run from March 8-15 with the top two teams from the four groups advancing to the quarterfinals, which will be held in Tokyo from March 15-16 and Miami from March 17-18.

Miami’s LoanDepot Park will also host the semifinals from March 19-20 as well as the championship game on March 21.

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