World Baseball Classic: Top 20 Hitters
Having the World Baseball Classic to break up a boring month of MLB spring training is a joy for baseball fans around the globe. Many of the greatest players currently dominating the sport will be taking part in the event, the first since 2009. Japan has won the first two WBC championships behind spectacular pitching and stout defensive play, but that doesn't mean there's been a lack of superstar sluggers leading their respective countries in the games.
There will be plenty of big boppers out and about this year, too.
Teams like Venezuela, USA and the Dominican Republic will rely on fearsome batting orders to carry them deep into the tournament. Venezuela could very well be bringing the most intimidating group of hitters to the event, with big names like 2012 AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Pablo Sandoval and many more joining in to represent their country.
The Dominican Republic, despite having to play on without Albert Pujols or Jose Bautista (both are coming off injuries), will feature what is likely the top hitting infield you'll see. Edwin Encarnacion and Robinson Cano bring plenty of power to this squad, and Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez provide a little bit of everything. Team USA's lineup is just as formidable, especially having Ryan Braun, David Wright and young phenom Giancarlo Stanton locked in the heart of the order.
The slideshow you're about to scan through ranks the Top 20 hitters, in order, this year's World Baseball Classic has to offer. Each player brings something different to the plate for his respective squad, but we've simply ranked them in order of overall effectiveness, from No. 20 down to No. 1.
20. Pablo Sandoval, Venezuela
Kung Fu Panda won the World Series with the Giants in October and took home MVP honors after a monstrous performance. Now his sights are set on the World Baseball Classic.
19. Ben Zobrist, USA
Ben Zobrist is hardly the most recognizable name on this list, but he’s extremely versatile and will find plenty of ways to contribute for Team USA.
18. Justin Morneau, Canada
This will be Morneau’s third appearance in the WBC and, although he’s not hitting at the level he once was, the Canadian slugger will have a significant impact on his squad.
17. Yadier Molina, Puerto Rico
Molina took part in the 2006 WBC and has two World Series rings with the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s played plenty of games on the big stage, which is usually where the veteran catcher is at his best.
16. Nelson Cruz, Dominican Republic
Cruz has never put together the monster season he’s fully capable of, but is one of several Dominican Republic bats that make this bunch a formidable foe.
15. Mark Teixeira, USA
Team USA will use the powerful Teixeira, who is making his second appearance in the WBC, at first base.
14. Jose Reyes, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic lineup will feature plenty of pop, but Reyes provides a rare amount of speed he’ll use to frustrate opponents on the base paths.
13. Adam Jones, USA
Jones finally broke out as a full-blown star for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012 and the outfielder will now make his first appearance in the WBC. Jones is a well-rounded hitter who will provide a nice blend of speed and power.
12. Joe Mauer, USA
Mauer, a nine-year MLB veteran, will be making his first-ever WBC appearance and provides Team USA with an excellent contact hitter for the batting order.
11. Brandon Phillips, USA
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips couldn’t be happier about heading to the WBC for the first time, and Team USA couldn’t be happier to have the veteran slugger on board.
10. Carlos Beltran, Puerto Rico
Beltran has dominated on the big stage at the major league level and is set to do great things for Puerto Rico in the 2013 WBC.
9. Giancarlo Stanton, USA
The 23-year-old Stanton is one of MLB’s brightest young stars and the outfielder will be given his first chance to showcase that insanely powerful swing in the WBC.
8. Adrian Gonzalez, Mexico
Gonzalez is undoubtedly the face of Mexico’s squad and the four-time MLB All-Star will be depended on heavily at the plate.
7. Hanley Ramirez, Dominican Republic
Ramirez, one of the most talented hitting shortstops in the major leagues, will hold down third base for the Dominican Republic in 2013.
6. David Wright, USA
Wright’s heroics in the 2009 WBC helped the United States advance to the semifinals, and the third baseman is back to help his country advance even further in 2013.
5. Carlos Gonzalez, Venezuela
CarGo has been tearing up the senior circuit for the Colorado Rockies over the past few years and will give Venezuela an enormous boost in this year’s WBC.
4. Robinson Cano, Dominican Republic
Cano is the best bat the Dominic Republic will have at its disposal in the Classic, which is saying a lot when you scan through a roster loaded with top-tier MLB hitters.
3. Joey Votto, Canada
Votto still has to make an official decision on whether he’ll play in the WBC with his countrymen for Canada or stay in camp with the Reds, but he’ll be one of the event’s main attractions if he does indeed make the commitment.
2. Ryan Braun, USA
Braun played with USA in the 2009 WBC and will now be the most dangerous bat this squad has to offer in 2013.
1. Miguel Cabrera, Venezuela
The reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner is arguably the best hitter in the world and will likely carry the Venezuelans deep into the tournament again in 2013.