Misc Baseball News

Japan Leads WBSC Rankings To Start 2024, Team USA Slips — College Baseball, MLB Draft, Prospects

Japan Leads WBSC Rankings To Start 2024, Team USA Slips — College Baseball, MLB Draft, Prospects

Image credit:

Japan players pose after the Asia Professional Baseball Championship Final between South Korea and Japan at Tokyo Dome on November 19, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)

As 2024 begins, Japan remains on top of the World Baseball Softball Confederation men’s baseball rankings.

That’s to be expected. In 2023, Japan won the World Baseball Classic title, the most significant event of the international baseball schedule. Japan also won the 18U World Cup this year as well as the recent U23 Asia qualifier. Team Japan has undoubtedly had the best year of anyone internationally. In the back-and-forth battle with Team USA for international baseball supremacy, Japan stood a notch above in 2023.

But if you’re expecting to see Team USA right behind Samurai Japan, you’ll be mistaken.

Mexico, which ranked as low as 12th a decade ago, is now ranked second, ahead of Team USA, which has dropped to third.

That may seem odd, but it can be explained this way: the WBSC rankings have always had more to do with participation, especially in WBSC-led events, than winning.

These current rankings involve results that stretch back to 2019. Team USA has almost always finished ahead of Mexico when the two teams have both participated in a tournament. The U.S. has six titles, two second-place finishes, a third and two fourths in its 11 events it has participated in.

Mexico has two first-place finishes, two second-place finishes, four third-place finishes, two fourths, three sixths, three sevenths and an eighth. But Mexico has 17 events it has participated in over the four years the rankings cover, while Team USA has only participated in 11 events.

Mexico finished fourth at the World Baseball Classic. It finished seventh at the 12U World Cup. It finished eighth at the 18U World Cup. It finished seventh at the 23U World Cup Qualifier. Mexico’s only tournament win this year was a first-place finish at the Central American and Caribbean Games.

So even though Team USA was finishing ahead of Mexico every time the two teams faced off in a tournament (World Baseball Classic, 12U qualifier, 12U World Cup and 18U World Cup), the fact that Mexico also participated in the Pan Am Games and a 23U World Cup qualifier (an event the U.S. has regularly ignored) is enough to put Mexico ahead in the rankings.

Winning the 12U World Cup earned the U.S. 345 points. Finishing eighth in that same tournament earned…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at College Baseball, MLB Draft, Prospects – Baseball America…