Three futures bets to make now to win the 2023 World Baseball Classic

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By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

The last time we met in this space, we went early World Baseball Classic teams to bet on to win this year’s title. While we hadn’t completed the rosters for every team, we were trying to get an early lead based on the information we had.

But now that the rosters are set, let’s take another look at the WBC from a betting perspective. As always, new information makes the market more efficient and therefore harder to find value. For example, Clayton Kershaw’s unexpected announcement that he won’t play is one of the reasons why the Dominican Republic is now the pre-tournament favorite (+200 at FOX Bet). While they will be absolutely loaded with Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Sandy Alcantara, et al., I’m looking elsewhere for plays that have current value.

I also take that into account the format for the WBC. When betting, it’s always important to look at all angles, and the path of these teams is something to consider when betting on this tournament. There are four pools with five teams each. The winner and runner-up from each group will advance to a single-elimination tournament, which will take place in Tokyo and Miami.

That said, here are three futures bets you should be making now, with odds courtesy of FOX Bet:

Team Japan: +300 (bet $10 to win $40 total)

Just looking at the odds, it’s clear who belongs in the top tier of this tournament: the Dominican Republic, the United States and Japan. However, the first two have clear and present dangers that Japan does not. The Dominicans suffered terrible luck drawing Group D with Puerto Rico and Venezuela (spoiler alert: Venezuela is a bet I like). The other three pools do not have this type of competition.

As for the Stars and Stripes, it’s not just losing Kershaw that should give you pause. Yankees pitcher Néstor Cortés will also not compete after straining his right hamstring during spring trainingand none of Team USA’s throwers qualified in the top 25 in expected independent release last season. While most of those pitchers aren’t competing in the tournament at all, Japan has Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish.

Outside of MLB, several players in Japan’s professional baseball league, the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, should provide plenty of production. Yoshinobu Yamamoto is a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award (the Japanese version of the Cy Young)Roki Sasaki can throw in triple digits and Shota Imanaga posted a 2.26 ERA last season.

Japan has the most talented and deepest pitching staff in the WBC. They also get home advantage through the quarterfinals.

Team Venezuela: +900 (bet $10 to win $100 total)

There are three strong teams in Group D: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Only two of them can make it to the quarter-finals, so there will be a bet for any of this trio. But the teams that advance will automatically be contenders to win it all.

Ronald Acuna, Jr. lead the way for Venezuela. Last season, he rode 11th highest expected weighted average (.366), averaging one of the fastest running times from base to first base (4.27 seconds). Jose Altuve was 18th in 2022 in xwOBA (.354) and Eugenio Suarez was 45th (.339). There is also elite pitching and relief pitching that includes Pablo Lopez and Ranger Suarez.

If you also want a less analytical approach, Miguel Cabrera also competes. He says he plans to retire after this season, so leading his home country to a WBC title could be his exclamation point on a Hall of Fame career.

Mike Trout and USA or Julio Rodriguez and Dominican Republic for Ben’s Best WBC Team?

Mike Trout and USA or Julio Rodriguez and Dominican Republic for Ben's Best WBC Team?

Ben Verlander gives Alex Curry his top two teams to round out his ranking of the top 10 teams in the World Baseball Classic.

Team Cuba: +3500 (bet $10 to win $360 total)

Cuba’s odds have gone from +1500 to +3500 since we last checked in. Perhaps the biggest reason is the absence of hitters who were starters trying to make the team, including Yordan Alvarez and Jose Abreu.

However, the other reasons why they are still a dark horse still hold true. Cuba have by far the shortest odds to win the WBC of all the teams in Group A. They can finish in the top two and reach the quarterfinals. After that, three upset wins wouldn’t be out of the question.

Cuba has other hitters who have shown excellence over the past few years, even if they are not playing or are recovering from injury. Yoenis Cespedes had 130+ wRC+ seasons in 2016 and 2017. Luis Robert Jr. had an expected batting average of .272 last season (85th percentile)and Yoán Moncada he has had one of the highest walk rates in recent seasons. Add to that potential the arms of Ronald Bolaños and Miguel Romero, and you have a team that should not be overlooked, especially in these predictions.

It’s hard to tell if pre-WBC performance matters here. It would help our betting if it did, as Japan have finished at least third in every other tournament, Venezuela was third in 2009 and Cuba were runners-up in 2006.

Regardless, I’m riding these three futures bets right now to win the WBC.

Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, sports betting analyst, data scientist, and assistant professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become an aficionado of cold beer. Edward previously worked in local television, most notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas, covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football. follow him Ttweet @EdWith Sports.

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