Team Israel and Japan Previews

By: Lawrence Lang

As The World Baseball Classic Approaches, it’s time to break down Team Israel and Team Japan. 

Starting with team Israel they are making its first appearance in the WBC since 2017. In the 2017 WBC, Israel went 3-0 in the first round beating South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands. But in the second round, they would go 1-2, losing to the Netherlands and Japan and only getting a win over Cuba. 

In the 2023 WBC, they will be in Pool D, including the team countries of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. They will kick off Pool play against Nicaragua on March 12th, Then Puerto Rico on March 13th, and finish Pool Play against Venezuela on March 15th.

Two People who have won a World Series can ruffle some feathers with their team. This Israel Team is a decent-looking ball club with Ian Kinsler as Manager and Kevin Youkilis as Hitting coach. One good piece to this team is Outfielder Joc Pederson, who, in the 2022 season, had 104 hits, 23 home runs, and 70 RBIs. The Only player on the team born in Israel that is on Team Israel is Shlomo Lipetz, a Relief Pitcher who is also the oldest active player on the team and is 44 years old. 

The only stats, according to baseball reference, is from 2007, when he was 28 years old, where he went 3-1 and had an era of .98. He gave up 17 hits, three earned runs, one home run, six walks, and had 30 strikeouts.  

The Youngest player on this team is 22-year-old Josh Wolf. Wolf is a Cleveland Guardians prospect who is in Single A. right now. In three seasons between Rookie Ball and Single-A ball, he has gone 3-6 with a 5.26 era in 35 games with 56 Walks and 104 strikeouts. This WBC will be a big test for Wolf pitching on the biggest stage in Baseball that’s not the World Series. 

Heading a little west, we now see Team Japan as a two-time winner, winning the inaugural WBC in 2006, then again in 2009, and finishing third twice in 2013 and the most recent WBC in 2017. In 2017, WBC Japan Entered Pool Play beating Cuba, Australia, and China. Then went 3-0 again in the second round, beating The Netherlands, Cuba again, and Israel. They would lose to the eventual winners in the semi-finals to team USA 2-1 and beat the Netherlands in the third-place game to cap off the 2017 WBC. 

The 2023 Japanese baseball Team has two MLB Stars on their roster, one being starting pitcher Yu Darvish who in 2022 went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA with 197 strikeouts and in 10 seasons has an overall record of 95-75 3.50 Era and 1788 strikeouts. The other is the two-way star in Shohei Ohtani. The 2018 Rookie of the Year is coming off a 2022 season where he went 15-9 as a starter with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts. At the plate, he batted .273 with 160 hits, 34 home runs, and 95 RBIs with 11 stolen bases and has already made way in Exhibition play, having two monster home runs even before the WBC starts. 

The other notable player on team Japan is infielder Tetsuto Yamada from the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Nippon, who in 2022 batted .243 with 114 hits, 23 home runs, 65 RBIs, and ten stolen bases.

Japan will be in Pool B with South Korea, Australia, China, and the Czech Republic. Pool Play will begin against China on March 9th, Then Play South Korea on the 10th, The 11th play the Czech Republic, and close pool play on the 12th against Australia. With Pool play beginning on Tuesday with Cuba and Netherlands, it’s great to have The WBC back because it’s a great way to prepare for Baseball before the regular season starts.


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