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MLB

Two X-Factors For Team USA in the World Baseball Classic

(Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

The United States roster for the World Baseball Classic is loaded with talent and all-star caliber players. Guys like David Wright and Ryan Braun are household and world renowned names in the game of baseball. Baseball is a team game though and sometimes it’s the lesser known guys who could have a major impact. Here are two of them, one hitter and one pitcher, who could have a big impact on Team USA’s success or failure.

Ben Zobrist is like a swiss army knife. He can play every single position in the field except catcher and pitcher. If Wright needs to DH one day, expect Zobrist to be at third. Giancarlo Stanton’s knee is bothering him? Zobrist can be the guy in right field. You won’t lose too much with him hitting either. He hit .270 with 20 homers and 74 RBI and had a 5.4 WAR. You may not think of him when you think of Team USA, however, don’t be shocked if he gets a ton of playing time at multiple positions throughout the tournament.

Jeremy Affeldt may not be the key guy on a winning club, however, you need quality relievers like him to get outs in big spots late. He’s helped the San Francisco Giants win two of the last three World Series. Affeldt isn’t a LOOGY either. He didn’t give up a single run during the Giants run to championship last year. He may be the guy called on to get Adrian Gonzalez out against Team Mexico in the first game. He may be the guy needed to get out a tough lefty with second and third and two out in the seventh, and he can totally do it.

Zobrist and Affeldt are not superstars. You need guys like them if you’re going to win. These two could really boost team USA’s chances of winning the WBC.