World Baseball Classic Betting Preview

World Baseball Classic Betting Preview

WBC Betting Preview
By Josh Jacobs

Feelings are mixed as the World Series Classic quickly approaches. On one hand, the idea of pitting countries against each other and raising baseball awareness across the globe sounds like a win-win situation. However, the risk of injuring multi-million dollar players who currently reside in Major League Baseball is of serious concern.

But attention must be given on how we can maxamize profit on future wagering in this tourney.

It was in 2006 that Japan posted a 10-6 win over Cuba, becoming the first champion in the Classic. This time around, team Japan looks to be an early betting favorite with Bodog.com posting them at 6-1 odds.

Entering the new double-elimination format for this tournament, Japan will be without pitchers Hiroki Kuroda, Takashi Saito and Kazumi Saito. But backers should have no fear as Seattle’s all-star, Ichiro Suzuki will compliment Chicago Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome, Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura and Cleveland right-hand reliever, Masahide Kobayashi.

During the 2008 MLB season Suzuki, Fukudome and Iwamura combined for a .280 BA with 148 RBIs and a speedy, 63 stolen bases (Suzuki made up 43 of those stolen bases). The ace in the hole for the Japanese team could very well be right handed starting pitch, Yu Darvish. His 6’5’’ frame has given way to a 2.33 ERA with 585 strikeouts in four years as part of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Expect speed and starting pitching to characterize what Japan brings to the table in March.

The Dominican Republic trails just behind the United States as a $1.50 player to take the WBC outright. New to the team (and pretty darn impressive at that) includes the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez, the Cubs’ Aramis Ramirez and the Reds’ starting slinger, Edinson Volquez. Both Hanley and Aramis brought in 111 and 67 RBIs (2008 season) respectively.

And that’s just the tip of the ice burg. The Dominican team will field the following players; Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez (making the shift over from the U.S. to the DR), Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz and Carlos Pena (batting order could very well resemble this given list). Wow, just mentioning this power lineup should scare opponents! And there’s more. How are reserves, Placido Polanco, Jhonny Peralta, Robinson Cano and Adrian Beltran sound?

While the Dominican Republic’s starting rotation may suffer from not being fully prepared (this is essentially Spring Training for MLB arms), you can bet a stack of cash that a bullpen crafted by Jose Valverde, Octavio Dotel, Francisco Cordero and Damaso Marte should be able reinforce the defense.

The United States opened, and continues to take action as a $1.20 favorite to conquer the tournament this year. Far removed from the embarrassing 2006 outing, the US looks to have upgraded by adding Jimmy Rollins (.277 BA, 59 RBIs), Ryan Braun (.285 BA, 106 RBIs), Dustin Perdroia (326 BA, 83 RBIs) and David Wright (.302 BA, 124 RBIs).

But offense won’t score you a key to the bank vault unless starting pitchers, Roy Oswalt (17-10, 3.54 ERA), Jake Peavy (10-11, 2.85), Scott Kazmir (12-8, 3.49) and relievers J.J. Putz (56 strike outs, 3.88 ERA) and Scott Shields (2.70 ERA) can hold off a batting order like the Dominican Republic will field inside the box.

Located in Pool C with Canada, Italy and Venezuela, Bodog.com has listed the U.S. as 1-3 favorites to emerge as winners. But unless the U.S. can improve on scoring more then eight runs as it did in the entire second round of the 2006 Classic then odds and ends are all second nature.

Canada may seem like a long shot at 50-1 to take the tournament but a beat down on team USA, 8-6 in round one of the 2006 WBC got us thinking that surprises do happen. A look at the roster shows vast improvement from three years ago. Jason Bay will get the ball rolling, coming off a 2008 MLB outing which had the left fielder batting .286 with 31 homers for 101 RBIs. First baseman, Justin Morneau will bring his .300 BA and 129 RBIs to the batters box while catcher Russell Martin adds more firepower to both the offense and defense.

This is not to say that Canada enters the Classic by scarring away the likes of the Dominican Republic’s fierce batting order or the U.S.’s more diversified talent, but to put them on the backburner would be doing injustice.

Both South Africa and China round out the biggest ‘dogs of the 16 total teams participating. Led by amateurs once again, South Africa has been installed as a 225-1 long shot while China’s roster has just three players associated with a Major League Club. The People’s Republic of China is right on South Africa’s heels as a 200-1 puppy.

There’s no real science to future wagering in the newly developed World Baseball Classic. We know, for the most part, which teams posses MLB caliber squads and which are dominated by nothing more then players with limited experience.

The slow time in professional sports gaming is here so enjoy the Classic for what it’s worth, a solid exhibition of America’s pastime. Below are the odds for the entire 16-team field.

Odds to Win the 2009 World Baseball Classic
Team     Odds
Australia 150/1
Canada 50/1
China 200/1
Chinese Taipei 40/1
Cuba 10/1
Dominican Republic 3/2
Italy 100/1
Japan 6/1
Korea 15/1
Mexico 20/1
Netherlands 175/1
Panama 30/1
Puerto Rico 15/1
South Africa 225/1
United States 6/5
Venezuela 7/1

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