Four MLBbros are set to compete in the 2023 World Baseball Classic championship game for Team USA after defeating the Cuban National Team 14-2 in the WBC’s semifinals.
While the rest of Major League Baseball are currently in Spring Training and preparing for Opening Day, MLBbros Mookie Betts, Tim Anderson, Devin Williams, and Cedric Mullins are already playing for international gold in March. Back in 2017, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Marcus Stroman put Team USA on their backs and captured the country’s first title.
Now this year marks the first appearance in the WBC for this new group of MLBbros, aiming to leave their mark on the global stage.
Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Betts, who officially committed to Team USA back in August 2022, has spent most of the tournament as the team’s leadoff hitter. The former American League MVP has a stat line of .296/.310/.333 in 27 at bats at this point in the WBC.
“I’m having the time of my life playing these games,” Betts said to La Vida Baseball. “This is very similar to the World Series and when we play, we want to play with passion. It’s not that much fun when you’re just playing and nobody cares. I think if you ask anybody on the field, we’re having some of the most fun we’ve ever had.”
An everyday right fielder, Betts has also spent time at second base for Team USA.
“My brain’s in it more,” Betts told the Los Angeles Times, comparing second base to right field. “There are certain intricacies that make you a good right fielder. You’re just not in every play and whatnot like you are in the middle of the infield.
“But I definitely enjoy playing right. I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t enjoy it. I love going out there and playing and trying to be the best that I can be.”
Betts is no stranger to second base, receiving his first Major League start at the position in 2021 after recovering from an injury. Betts also had 230 starts at second base during his time in the minors.
But Betts is not the only MLBbro experimenting with other positions during the WBC.
Chicago White Sox All Star Tim Anderson transitioned to every day second baseman for Team USA due to the roster depth at shortstop. Anderson has been solid for USA, batting .313/.368/.500 while also playing slick defense at second.
You know #MLBbro Tim Anderson is going to make contact and do what’s needed to get the run in and stack the lead. Looking like @USABaseball will be defending its 2017 #WBC Championship and the Bros will be a huge part of it again. pic.twitter.com/SM1Wb6X62i
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) March 20, 2023
It appears the switch to second base is not slowing Anderson down.
“It’s alright, not too bad. I got comfortable as the game went on and I was able to make some plays,” Anderson said to MLB Network after USA’s victory against Canada.
Anderson appears to be using the WBC as an opportunity to remind everyone how good he is after battling an injury riddled season in 2022.
“I’m always out to prove something,” Anderson said to The Athletic. “Just to be among some of the greats, I just get a chance for the world to see what kind of athlete I am. And also the guys get to know what kind of person I am, the human being.”
The “WBCbros” are also getting it done on the mound.
Brewers All Star reliever Devin ‘Airbender’ Williams made his biggest impact in the quarterfinals against Venezuela. In the eighth inning of the matchup, Williams would pitch around a leadoff double by striking out the next two batters and forcing a line out for the final out of the inning. Williams contributions in the eighth were vital as USA held on to a 9-7 lead to advance to the semifinals. “The Airbender”, known for his nasty changeup, has been sensational in his role in these games, giving up only one hit and zero earned runs.
Cedric ‘CM Storm’ Mullins
Orioles’ outfielder Cedric ‘CM Storm’ Mullins has had a limited role in the WBC, batting .333 with a home run in six at bats. The home run was an eighth inning bomb against Cuba which would prove to be USA’s 14th and final run scored. The known bag thief has also been utilized as a pinch runner.
Team USA general manager, Tony Reagins spoke to MLBbro on how he felt about the Black representation at the WBC.
“That’s cool in the fact that black baseball will be represented. A number of our coaches are African-American. Some of our most talented players when you talk about Cedric, Mookie, [and] Devin Williams are going to be key parts of this. I think that black baseball will be represented in a number of ways, not only on the field, but in the dugout so I’m looking forward to it.”
I spoke w/ @WBCBaseball GM Tony Reagins on how WBC can elevate the awareness of Black baseball players around the country like Mookie Betts, Cedric Mullins, Tim Anderson, Devin Williams & more….
— Nick Hamilton (@NickHamilton213) January 11, 2023
With a combined 10 All Star appearances, these four players are representing Black baseball on the global stage. Through their elite set of skills, they continue to be among the best representation for Black fans and players alike as they prepare with Team USA for the WBC championship game.