Sunday, March 12, 2006

'06 World Baseball Classic - Round 2 Predictions

Picking teams to make it through Round 2 is going to be tougher than Round 1 was. In each Pool, I think there is a clear favorite to make it through with the other 3 teams all having a legitimate shot at being the second team through.

In Pool 1, I think (I hope, anyway) that the USA is the clear favorite. But the second team is a much tougher pick. IMHO, I think that Korea, Japan and Mexico are all about equal. Despite having lost to Korea in the first round, I give a slight edge to the Japanese team. I think their loss to Korea pissed them off and they are going to play with much more intensity. Also, their game with Korea was meaningless as they had already won through to the second round. Mexico has a quality, team, too, and can’t be counted out.

In Pool 2, I think that the Dominican Republic is the clear favorite to win through. But again, the second team is a much tougher pick. Both the Venezuelans and the Puerto Ricans have many MLB players. Cuba does not, but they have had players who defected and have turned out to be stars in the Big Leagues (think El Duque and Jose Contreras). They also have a lot riding on this tournament. If I had a three sided coin, I would be tempted to use that to make my decision. Cuba’s embarrassing loss to Puerto Rico doesn’t bode well for them, but it was also true that that was a meaningless game – Cuba had already made it through to the second round. I’m going to pick Venezuela as the second team, but I won’t be astonished if either Cuba or Puerto Rico beats them out.

So these are my picks to make it out of Round 2;

Pool 1 – USA & Japan
Pool 2 - Dominican Republic & Venezuela

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