The Dominican Republic was one of the favorites to win the 2023 World Baseball Classic entering the spring. Their intimidating lineup, which includes players like Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Julio Rodriguez, and other intimidating hitters, was reminiscent of the starting nine for the All-Star Game. Nonetheless, the Dominican Republic was ousted from the World Baseball Classic after playing the bare minimum of four games, falling to Puerto Rico 5-2 on Wednesday night. Instead, Pool D will advance Venezuela and Puerto Rico—who triumphed in heartbreaking way since Edwin Daz was injured during the celebration following the game—to the quarterfinals.
What specifically did the Dominican Republic do wrong? These four reasons explain why they left sooner than expected.
1. Inadequate timing
Overall, the Dominican Republic performed effectively as a team. Need support? They had the third-best ERA of any pitching staff, while their lineup had the ninth-best OPS. The problem is that given that they ranked 12th in that category, they did not score as many runs as you might anticipate based on the second portion.
In order to put things into perspective, the eight teams that had an OPS higher than the Dominican Republic each scored at least 23 runs. Whereas the DR only received a 19. Would four more runs have been enough to win the game? They wouldn’t have hurt, I suppose. To Venezuela they lost by four and to Puerto Rico by three. Moreover, in their two losses, the Dominican Republic squad left a total of 20 runners on base. They might have been in a position to move on to the following round had they cashed in a couple more times. They won’t because they didn’t.
2. Difficult pool
The Dominican Republic’s statistics were briefly mentioned above, therefore it is only fair that we provide additional data to demonstrate how difficult Pool D is.
In the 20-team competition featuring Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic, the pool contained three of the ten greatest OPS scores. In terms of runs scored and ERA, Puerto Rico came in fourth place. In both runs scored and ERA, Venezuela was tied for second place. When the Dominican Republic is taken into account, it becomes evident that the division had three deserving teams.
To their dismay, the Dominican Republic drew the short straw.
3. a weakened roster
Fair enough, practically every WBC team lost one or two players to injury. Like to other teams, the Dominican Republic roster suffered from poorly timed injuries. Due to a knee injury, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and relievers José Leclerc and Jarlin Garcia had to withdraw from spring training.
If those three had been there, would the Dominicans’ lot have been better? I am unable to say. Jeimer Candelario, Guerrero’s replacement, did hit well, but it’s simple to underestimate the importance of having two other relievers of big-league caliber on hand in a competition with rigorous use guidelines.
We should point out that Soto had his own calf ailment before to the competition. Yet, he continued to play brilliantly, rendering the argument irrelevant.
4. The WBC organization
Let’s face it: In baseball, strange things occasionally occur in small samples. To put it another way, larger error bars are associated with smaller samples. Only last year, the mediocre Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the dominant Los Angeles Dodgers in six games, winning five of them. It didn’t imply that the Dodgers were bad or that the Pirates were good. There was only baseball.
The Dominican Republic played four games in this instance, losing two of them. Those two defeats were suffered at the hands of pool-playing teams that had advanced. Who knows what would have happened if the Dominican Republic had been given a best-of-seven series or a three-game set versus each team. The Dominicans might make progress.
Unfortunately, the WBC doesn’t have a regular season as long as Major League Baseball. Not even the postseason is that long. It’s just organized mayhem played as baseball, with a quick pool play round followed by a string of elimination games. The winner is the last team standing, but they weren’t necessarily the greatest team; they were merely the team that had the best chance of survival.
This year, the Dominican Republic wasn’t there.