The Dominican Republic defeats Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.
Watching a championship game between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico without having seen most of the previous contests between the two rival countries is a little like starting a show in its fourth-season finale. There are story arcs, plot points, and dramatic payoffs you’re only vaguely aware of, and you missed the episode where they introduced the first baseman. Fortunately, most baseball games are bottle episodes, and most of the actors have faces you’ve seen before. And from the first pitch of last night’s WBC final on, it was clear to anyone watching that both teams really, really wanted to win.
In Puerto Rico, many people were able to watch the game for free in movie theaters and public squares. In the mainland US, many people weren't able to watch the game at all, depending on their cable providers. So in case you couldn’t or didn’t see most of the tournament but clicked here to find out how it ended, let me briefly set the scene. Previously on the WBC, the Dominicans went 3-0 in the first round, 3-0 in the second round (in which the bullpen threw 12 2/3 shutout innings), and defeated the Netherlands 4-1 on Monday night to advance to the finals (with four more scoreless innings in relief). They entered the game as the tournament’s only remaining undefeated team. Puerto Rico knocked off two-time WBC winners Japan on Sunday and reached the final with a 5-3 record (but an 0-2 tally against the DR). Due to their dominance in earlier rounds, the Dominican got last licks on Tuesday.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The pitch before the pitch that sent the Dominican Republic to the WBC semifinals.
If you weren’t watching the World Baseball Classic on Thursday night, you missed a memorable moment with one out in the top of the ninth, when Dominican Republic pinch-hitter Erick Aybarbroke a 1-1 tie with a single off US closer Craig Kimbrel, driving in Nelson Cruz from third. The go-ahead run proved to be the winning run, sending the 5-0 Dominicans to the semifinals and the 3-2 Americans to an elimination game against Puerto Rico on Friday.
Jason finds wonderment, enlightenment, and Mayor Raul Mondesi at a showcase in the Dominican.
I’m up early, blurry eyes from the evening’s bottle, wearing thin the flooring as I pace in anticipation of my journey. I’m set to participate in a flight to Santo Domingo, where I will stand on a box to see over the giants of the international industry. I’ve been on my hands since the instructional league, watching baseball through the magic of memories, months of electronic paper pushing and phone dialing that have made my eyes sad and lonely from the disconnect. My baseball lover, I’ve forgotten your scent.
The music for the mood is a heavy-hearted and ethereal attempt at “The Killing Moon” performed by Nouvelle Vague. A cover song I use to cover me in this moment. I’m taken.“So cruelly you kissed me. Your lips a magic world.” My ears are content and I’m in an exit row window seat. The inevitable query arrives and I’m provocative about my ability to aid in the unlikely event of an emergency. As it turns out, nobody finds comfort in the assurance that I will provide hero hands if an unlikely event happens to demand a hero. The steward’s take on my services is spoken in the universal language of disdain. I return to my float.
How does the plate discipline of Dominican players compare to the league as a whole?
If you read Jorge Arangure Jr.’s great guest piece on Dominican players and plate discipline today, you may have wondered, as I did, whether we could see any difference between Dominicans and non-Dominicans in the data. Jorge mentioned how few Dominicans are among their respective leagues’ leaders in walk rate, but I wanted to see how DR-born players stacked up as a group. I asked BP data dude Dan Turkenkopf to run the numbers, and this is what he found for major leaguers in 2012. (Note: pitcher hitting is included, and the “league” rates include Dominican players.)
Are Dominican hitters hurting themselves by focusing on raw skills at the expense of a patient approach? And can anything be done about it?
Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Jorge Arangure has been a baseball writer since 2003. He has worked as a senior writer for ESPN and The Washington Post. He's got #want and is #wet and will probably spend his BP freelancing money drinking with Jason Parks.
The signing windows on Latin teen talents gets thrown open, but who's going to land where?
While tradition would say that it's technically ridiculous to post July 2nd signing-related notes and predictions until after the signing period has opened, this year is playing out uniquely. It appears that many players will be waiting a day or two later to agree to contracts, with some waiting a week or two, for various reasons I'll cover below. If anything, July 2nd appears to be the day that all the done deals that have been reported for weeks will be official, along with a couple of surprises, but it will not be the cavalcade of information you might expect. On top of that, it's notoriously difficult to even get lists of who signed with each club on July 2nd; a few teams will have press releases, a few don't mind leaking a list, but the vast majority don't want the information out there for some reason.
I say all this to temper your enthusiasm for July 2nd day-of coverage. There will be lists and names and bonuses and some breaking news, but not quite as much as you may be expecting. The market was slow to develop this year, and a number of clubs and agents are unsure of how money will be spent and just need a few days to hammer things out, along with some ongoing age-related investigations that need to conclude (including that of Miguel Sano). What's the reason for the later decisions by clubs and agents? This is the biggest market of active teams July 2nd has ever seen, along with a recession that has messed with club's budgets and changed expectations on the fly. You also can't ignore the heightened awareness of age falsification, with many players being suspended even recently. One insider described the situation by noting, "A few guys from last year's class were outed as being older in the last few weeks and now these teams are thinking twice about walking down the aisle with this year's crop unless they're absolutely certain of the age."
Rounding out a list of the top 20 international talents, with video and reports straight from south of the border.
I've got a lot of ground to cover today, so we'll skip any long-winded introductions and just get right into the good stuff. As with last week's piece, non-subscribers who would like to take a look at the videos embedded below can check out my Vimeo page.
While I was in the Dominican last month, the biggest showcase of the year featured various top July 2nd prospects facing off against the Canadian junior national team. Left-hander Jake Eliopoulos, the top Canadian prospect in tomorrow's draft, toed the rubber for three innings. Here's a bonus video and scouting report on him, as you'll want to know something about him, as he should be drafted tomorrow:
With the signing window for talent about to open, a primer on how things work south of the border.
There's a disease of "more" in baseball prospect coverage, and it has seeped all the way down to the growing interest in the Latin American market of 16-year-old amateurs. While this might seem borderline creepy and of dubious importance, there are many layers to this emerging foreign market. Before I start into a full sprint with scouting reports, rumors, and rankings of talent from south of the border, I want to take a page out of Kevin Goldstein's playbook, when he kicked off his prospect coverage here at BP with a series on scouting theory and lingo by catching everyone up on how business is done in Latin America.
Jay Jaffe checks in with a WBC report after taking in some exciting games in Puerto Rico.
But as the first round revealed, even the hardest heart is capable of being warmed once the games begin. The sudden presence of baseball in early March--not the lazy exhibition walkthroughs in front of somnolent audiences of sun-worshippers but tooth-and-nail battles between bitter rivals in front of frenzied fanatics--trumps all. Either find a way to enjoy the first (relatively) meaningful baseball in four and a half months, or fill out your bracket and kiss Andrew Jackson goodbye.
As of five weeks ago, I had been planning my own sun-worshipping Florida pilgrimage when my brother-in-law Adam upped the ante by suggesting a couple of second-round WBC games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Though mindful of my own reservations about the tourney, I've got enough experience in marquee event attendance to know that even the most pilloried events--such as the birthed-in-scandal 2002 Winter Olympics in my hometown of Salt Lake City--look much better when you're holding a fistful of ducats. As my wife, Andra, likes to say, we're "event people"; it doesn't take much arm-twisting to induce us to hunt big games. So with her blessing, we procured a quartet of tickets for the Pool D winner versus Pool C winner matchup on Monday, March 13 (Adam's girlfriend Nicole would also be accompanying us), and a boys-only pair for the previous night's matchup pairing the Pool D winner and the Pool C runner-up. With the Dominican Republic and Venezuela likely to come out of the D bracket and Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Panama vying for the C slots, we were virtually assured of a pair of high-end Latin-flavored ballgames.
This Sunday at 5:30 p.m. EST, Major League Baseball will present the fifth annual showcase of the premier minor league talents in the game. It receives an ESPN2 time slot usually reserved for reruns of the 1976 World Strongest Man competition and gets about the same amount of national attention, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better place to watch talent assemble. There are eight major league All-Stars this year who have participated in one of the four Futures Game contests, and that number will only rise as improving players like Lance Berkman, Joel Pineiro, and Brett Myers find their way to the big stage in the coming years. However, since the game doesn't receive much in the way of promotion (shocking, I know), people still ask questions. So, here are some answers.