The Pros and Cons of the WBC for MLB Players and Baseball
Follow the author: @baratwurst41
Yes, it’s 2017 and the World Baseball Classic is back this year; And yes, we’re still arguing about whether or not the WBC is good for MLB players. This season, the Indians have 11 players playing in the WBC and as Terry Francona said, “Our hearts are in our throats.” Of those players, the most important are Francisco Lindor, Andrew Miller and Carlos Santana. In fact, Indians manager Terry Francona said that he will call team USA manager Jim Leyland to talk about left-hander Andrew Miller’s usage in the WBC. Last night, it was a tale of two stories for Lindor and Miller. Miller gave four runs up in the 8th, a solo shot and a 3-run home run surrendered the lead. Lindor, however, hit two home runs last night for Puerto Rico.
In the WBC, the Indians prized reliever and MLB’s superstar Andrew Miller will represent team USA. Of all positions, pitchers are more likely to experience a regression in their performance due to fatigue or injury. In 2009, Right-hander Edinson Volquez had to have Tommy John surgery after the WBC. Former Cleveland Indians pitcher Vinnie Pestano, who represented team USA in the WBC in 2013, had a horrible experience during and after the WBC. In 2011, Pestano posted a 2.32 ERA. In 2012, Pestano posted an ERA of 2.57. In those last two seasons, he became one of the best relievers in baseball. In 2013, this was a different story. He posted a 4.08 ERA and had a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of -0.1. In 2011 and 2012 he had a WAR or over two.
One place where I feel like the WBC has a positive impact is letting other guys in spring training get more opportunities. With the departure of stars like Adam Jones, Francisco Lindor and Andrew McCutchen, this opens up opportunities for guys looking to prove their worth. Guys who don’t get a lot of playing time in spring training or are competing for spots on the MLB or minor league rosters get more time in the field and more time at the dish. In turn, more time for managers and coaches to get a good look and evaluate them more.
Yes, Vinnie Pestano and Edinson Volquez were unlucky, but there other reasons why the WBC is good for the game. The MLB sends most of its best players to the WBC. Other than opening day and the world series, the WBC is the biggest stage for the game baseball. It is after all, essentially the World Cup for baseball. Players who represent the MLB have a chance to show off their talent for the whole world to see. The reputations for guys like Andrew Miller, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana have a chance to go up. They get national coverage and have a chance to be in the spotlight. To these guys, representing their country is everything. They can put on a show for the whole world to see.
Unfortunately, injuries happen during both spring training and the regular season, but they shouldn’t happen when players aren’t ready to play at 100%. Sadly, this occurs in the WBC when players have only been in spring training for two and a half weeks. At the end of the day, I think the Cons outweigh the Pros. I believe that players risk way too much when leaving their teams during spring training to play in the WBC. Players themselves will have to determine if it’s worth it to represent their country in the WBC.
Follow the author: @baratwurst41
stats and info via baseball reference, SB Nation and cleveland.com