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World Baseball Classic: Four reasons why powerhouse Dominican Republic crashed out of WBC early

World Baseball Classic: Four reasons why powerhouse Dominican Republic crashed out of WBC early

Coming into the spring, the Dominican Republic was considered one of the favorites to win the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Their imposing lineup included the likes of Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Julio Rodríguez, and other fearsome hitters resembled an All-Star Game starting nine. Yet with a 5-2 loss to Puerto Rico on Wednesday night, the Dominican Republic was eliminated from the WBC after playing just the minimum four-game slate. Pool D will instead send Venezuela and Puerto Rico — who won in bittersweet fashion as Edwin Díaz was hurt in the post-game celebration — to the quarterfinals.

Just what went wrong for the Dominican Republic? Here are four factors that led to their earlier-than-expected exit.

1. Poor sequencing

On an aggregate, team-wide level, the Dominican Republic played well. Need evidence? They ranked third in ERA as a pitching staff, and ninth in OPS as a lineup. The catch is that they did not score as many runs as you would expect based on the second part, as they checked in at 12th in that category. 

For perspective, each of the eight teams with a higher OPS than the Dominican Republic scored at least 23 runs. The DR, meanwhile, scored just 19. Would four more runs have made the difference? Well, they wouldn’t have hurt. The Dominicans lost by four to Venezuela, and by three to Puerto Rico.

Beyond that, the Dominican Republic lineup left a combined 20 runners on base in two defeats. Had they cashed in a few more times, they may have been in position to advance to the next round. They didn’t, so they won’t.

2. Tough pool

We highlighted some of the Dominican Republic’s statistics above, so it’s only fair that we print more numbers to illustrate the toughness of Pool D.

To wit, the pool had three of the 10 highest OPS in the 20-team tournament between Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico ranked fourth in runs scored and fourth in ERA. Venezuela was tied for ninth in runs scored and second in ERA. Factor in how the Dominican Republic ranked third in ERA, and there were clearly three worthy teams in the division.

To the Dominican Republic’s chagrin, they ended up with the short straw.

3. Compromised roster

To be fair, almost every WBC team lost a player or two to injury. The Dominican Republic roster was no different, as it was weakened by ill-timed ails. First baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had to withdraw in spring after…

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