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Japan beats Israel 8-3 to advance to World Baseball Classic semifinals

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Japan's cakewalk to the semifinals is complete. Aided by home advantage, a Cuba team decimated by many defections to MLB, a decent, but unspectacular Netherlands, and an Israel squad made up of American minor leaguers and has-beens, Japan wasn't seriously challenged in either round.

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I agree the competition for them so far has not been top-notch. However as opposed to past teams, Japan's lineup and depth at pitching is pretty darn good. They have three legitimate long ball hitters (Nakata, Yamada, Tsutsugo) which they never had before with their slap-hit singles run manufacturing teams of the old days.

They have talents like Fujinami and Senga available for RELIEF duty. Tat is some serious depth. I think we will see Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico playing Japan in the final.

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I wonder how they would have performed if Dalvish, Tanaka, Iwakuma and or Otani was included into the roster.

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Well done to Japan, complete dominance! Although I don't really see the point if hardly any MLBers are playing.. Sort of makes it like football at the Olympics..

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Baseball’s birthplace, the United States, has never won the Classic with Major League clubs refusing to release players, giving rise to questions over the tournament’s future.

I think it's a sort of chicken-or-egg situation for the U.S. Fan and media interest in the WBC is very low. Teams and players are hesitant to risk injury over an exhibition tournament. Plus, the concept of "international baseball" really doesn't have any significant history or prestige (in places other than Japan). With the professional season already being so long and grueling, it's tough to expect any kind of commitment.

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The Original Wing

The same old lame excuse the British(England) said when FIFA World Cup started in the 30's. Gets thrashed every time they qualified.

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Interesting comment TOW. I also initially thought WBC was some sort of "exhibition tournament" (first time I follow the comp tbh) so was somehow confused and surprised to see J media and fans give it similar coverage/attention to a 'proper' world cup in other sports.

Was also surprised that 12-16 teams can hold their own in baseball, thought the likes of Japan were going to win games vs Dutch, Israeli etc 15-0 and that baseball was an even less international sport than it turns out to be!

I know it's probably hard to say but do you (or other baseball followers) know how dominant would a MLB team (or a decent mlb based US selection) be in such comp? Would they beat anyone, including Japan, by 10+ or could the likes of Japan pull off an upset?

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Would they beat anyone, including Japan, by 10+ or could the likes of Japan pull off an upset?

I would say the best Japanese team is probably the equivalent of a below average MLB team. The reason the Japanese are good at WBC is because they are actually playing their best players AND they are taking is seriously...

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Tell that to Tanaka, Darvish, Iwakuma and next Otani which will pile Ks a mile high.Wait a minute they are doing that already. LoL

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I was watching Japan play the US on my phone on a train years ago. Japan won, and at that moment the salaryman opposite, also watching on his phone, gave me a look of pure, undisguised malevolent triumph.I wanted to explain that I wasn't American, was glad Japan had won and didn't really care anyway.

Then I thought "Why am I sweating this if I don't care? "

So I said nothing. A good move, probably....

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@goldorak: I think that an "average" MLB team would probably lose to or be an equal match for Japan's current WBC team. Japan has proven that its top tier of talent - particularly pitchers - can be between "good" and "star" players in the MLB. Japan's problem is depth. While Japan's stars can succeed against the MLB, its mid- and lower- range players of the NPB are far inferior to those in the MLB. But if we're talking pro teams, then I think that Japan's pro NPB teams are still a half-step below MLB standards.

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While Japan's stars can succeed against the MLB, its mid- and lower- range players of the NPB are far inferior to those in the MLB. But if we're talking pro teams, then I think that Japan's pro NPB teams are still a half-step below MLB standards.

Japan's best have long been capable of playing in MLB to varying degrees, with some like Ichiro a superstar, while a few others like Hideki Matsui and Nomo capable of playing among the best for a number of years.

And there were outstanding individual talents in NPB that MLB teams wanted long before Nomo. After Masanori Murakami played in MLB in the mid 1960s, it was NPB that prevented stars like Kaneda, Oh, Nagashima et al. from ever having a chance to try MLB. Star pitchers from the '30s and '40s like Sawamura and Starffin were MLB caliber in their prime years, for that matter.

The overall level of NPB is inferior to MLB. It really is a "AAAA" league. The quality depth is just not there, which is part of the reason why NPB has no limit on the # of foreigners on the organizational roster, although the first-team limit is still four.

When people talk about how teams would fare on either side of the Pacific, it's important to remember that the worst teams still win around 40% of their games over a long regular season, while the best are victorious about 60% of the time.

That's why postseason series are best-of-five, or more often best-of-seven series. That determines who has the best teams. The WBC format does not work that way to its detriment, and its timing in the preseason leaves a lot to be desired.

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Yes Japan's BEST can play in MLB, but Japan's mediocre are not near MLB mediocre. Take a look at the Orix roster. Pitcher Kaneko is the only one who could get a look in MLB and even he would be a borderline possible reliever..

Japan's ALL STARs would certainly beat say the Diamondbacks or Rockies. But Orix could not beat anyone in MLB.

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Yes Japan's BEST can play in MLB, but Japan's mediocre are not near MLB mediocre.

And I said so in my 3rd paragraph. NPB is 4A overall and the quality depth is not there. It's minor league baseball with some big-league caliber players scattered around the 12 team rosters.

I don't agree that Japan's All-Stars "would certainly beat" teams like the Diamondbacks or Rockies. Not just with NPB-based players, that's for sure. If they used Tanaka, Darvish and Otani in a five or seven-game series, probably, but I'm not particularly impressed with Japan's best lineup.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens with the next WBC. I wonder if they will hold it in early 2021, just a few months after baseball at the 2020 Games, even with minor leaguers filling out most of the rosters in Tokyo. The WBC really needs a commitment from the best every four years, or they should get rid of it.

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Thanks for the response. And agree that depth or lack thereof in Japan's case is probably the difference between Japan and US baseball.

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I don't agree that Japan's All-Stars "would certainly beat" teams like the Diamondbacks or Rockies.

Japan's current WBC team is worlds better than the DBacks roster.

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Oh give us a break after expansion when the Major league added more teams the quality of players had gone down several notches to fill in those teams. This can be easily be proven by seeing all those bonehead mistakes that high school player participating Koshien would not make.

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how in the world does my comment get negatives? You realize after Zack Greinke and his 5+ ERA the DBacks are putting out Corbin. That is their 2. Not to mention no relief and only Goldscmidt as a power hitter.

SoftBank or Nippon Ham or Hiroshima could beat that team, let alone All-Stars from Japan...

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Oh give us a break after expansion when the Major league added more teams the quality of players had gone down several notches to fill in those teams.

No, MLB has continued to expand its worldwide search for talent to offset expansion, which is a big reason why the majors have so many foreign-born players on their rosters. The World Series is a real gathering of most of the world's best players to determine a champion annually. NPB, meanwhile, employs mostly fringe foreigners and keeps its four-player limit on top rosters, with the overall level of its game in decline over the past 15-20 years.

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with the overall level of its game in decline over the past 15-20 years.

not sure what you are watching... NPB level of play is at an all time high.

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"SoftBank or Nippon Ham or Hiroshima could beat that team, let alone All-Stars from Japan...."

Hiroshima adds to its roster with American failures like Eldred, Hagens, Johnson and Jackson among their best players on the way to the Japan Series in 2016.

Nippon Ham fills in its roster behind Nakata and Otani with such luminaries as Bass, Laird, Martin and Mendoza on the way to the Japan Series title last year.

And you think these NPB teams are better than the MLB teams you mention? MLB teams wouldn't be interested in most of the above mentioned players in reserve roles, let alone as key cogs of a team.

There isn't an NPB team that could be competitive in the U.S. over the course of a big league season. Not one. And not in a seven-game series, either. A game or two? Of course.

Most NPB players are not MLB quality. A few here and there are on the 12 teams. Some of those could be good players in the U.S. An individual like Otani should be great a couple years down the road. But that's all.

A few players you cite, like Corbin, Greinke and Goldschmidt would put up much better stats against inferior NPB competition. One game here and there in the preseason, like the WBC format, proves little about the game and who is best.

"not sure what you are watching...NPB level of play is at an all time high."

I started watching NPB in 1990. The overall level of play in NPB was better in the '90s, IMO, than it is now. There was more quality depth and there were more talented stars back then.

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Well, I have been a baseball scout for an MLB team for 13 years. I guess I have no idea what I am talking about though...

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Well, I have been a baseball scout for an MLB team for 13 years. I guess I have no idea what I am talking about though...

If true, then tell me where you think I'm wrong. I gave long, considered opinions, and you avoided most of what I said and gave a couple one sentence answers.

If you think that the three NPB teams you mentioned are more talented overall than the D-backs and Rockies, then I have to question not only your talent evaluation skills, but also your motives.

Go back and look at the talent distributed throughout NPB in the '90s and tell me where I'm wrong. The stars on the Lions and then the Hawks, the Blue Wave of the mid-'90s, the Swallows around that time, young Ichiro, young Matsui etc.

There were more big stars until Nomo started the exodus in '95 that really got going after 2000, and there was more overall depth, too. NPB almost downsized to 10 teams in 2004. They have been using more foreigners on organizational rosters, and have been expanding developmental rosters primarily to get more young foreign prospects into their system.

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