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Betting on spring training is a good warm up for baseball bettors, but wagering on the World Baseball Classic is a more enticing option.
Play gets underway on March 1, so it’s time to get down to business.
The 16-team field is broken into four pools of four teams each. The first round will be played as a round-robin tournament where every team plays other members of its pool once.
The second round is a modified double-elimination tournament, and the championship round requires a team to win two games (semifinal and final) in order to be declared the WBC champs.
Here are the group breakdowns and one sleeper team that could advance in each pool. All futures odds are courtesy of UWIN.
Brazil (+10,000), China (+3,300), Cuba (+2,500), Japan (+200)
Sleeper team: Brazil
Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin is the manager of Brazil, which is making its first WBC appearance after upsetting Panama in qualifying. The Brazilian squad is loaded with developing talent, as 11 players are currently playing in various minor league systems. This young team has nothing to lose and everything to gain in a tough group.
Australia (+6,600), Chinese Taipei (+2,200), Korea (+1,400), Netherlands (+3,300)
Sleeper team: Netherlands
Pitching won’t be a strong suit for the Netherlands, but its bats may be the talk of Group B. The Dutch infield is loaded with top MLB prospects like Andrelton Simmons (Braves), Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), and Jonathan Schoop (Orioles). The Netherlands also has some proven MLB talent to rely on. Andruw Jones and Roger Bernadina will patrol the outfield for the Dutch.
Dominican Republic (+350), Puerto Rico (+1,600), Spain (+10,000), Venezuela (+800)
Sleeper team: The Dominican Republic is stacked and will be hard to beat, but if anyone has a chance to derail them it’s Venezuela. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Gonzalez will be counted on to drive in runs, while Jhoulys Chacin and Anibal Sanchez should keep opposing hitters at bay.
Canada (+1,400), Italy (+10,000), Mexico (+2,000), United States (+250)
Sleeper team: Mexico
Pool D is loaded with MLB talent and Mexico is no exception. Brewers’ ace Yovani Gallardo is a force to be reckoned with and Adrian Gonzalez is a proven run producer. Former major leaguers Jorge Cantu and Karim Garcia will provide a veteran presence and have experience hitting big league pitching.