By Zachary D. Rymer | Bleacher Report
For the first time in six years, the World Baseball Classic is back. The first thing to know is that this is baseball’s answer to the FIFA World Cup.
After that, well, there’s a lot to know.
For starters, this year’s tournament—which was originally slated for 2021, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—is quite literally bigger than it’s ever been. Only 16 countries were represented in the first four World Baseball Classics in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017. For 2023, the field has grown to 20 countries.
Three of the participants are newcomers, so Great Britain, the Czech Republic and Nicaragua deserve props simply on those merits. The other 17 clubs are what you might call the usual suspects, headlined by the World Baseball Classic’s three previous champions: Japan (2006 and 2009), the Dominican Republic (2013) and the United States (2017).
As for how the 2023 tournament will work, which are the teams to beat and who are the players to watch and, naturally, who will be crowned champion in the end, read on for our full preview and predictions.