The success of Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic will hinge on the bat of former Most Valuable Player Joey Votto.
With the departure of Russell Martin and the exclusion of aging veteran Jason Bay, Votto and company will need to step up the offensive attack because the unproven pitching staff is going to need all the run support Team Canada can muster.
Votto is the most decorated Canadian currently in the majors and participated in the 2009 tourney batting .556 with a home run in two games played.
Votto is still training with the Cincinnati Reds at their spring training facility as he recovers from a torn meniscus suffered during last season. Votto is not guaranteed to participate, but all signs point to him playing. If his spring training statistics are any indication then he looks healthy as Votto is batting .375 with a home run in eight spring games. If for some reason Votto suffers a setback this week it will decimate Team Canada’s chances and send Canada reeling to find a replacement.
Votto looks to form a credible foursome with Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie and Michael Saunders for a Canadian squad that is looking to advance out of the round one bracket for the first time in Canadian tourney history.
This is the best Canadian compliment of players ever assembled and Canadian fans north of the border are hoping for a few Votto-Matic victories along the way.
Clayton Richer covers the Toronto Blue Jays for Rant Sports. Follow and interact with him on Twitter at @MLBHotCorner.