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
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.
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….
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.
Spring Training is under way and MLBbros are already making an impact. As we always do about this time, here’s our Top 10 Black and brown players entering the 2023 MLB season.
1. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge sits atop the throne as the best MLBbro in the game entering 2023 after launching an American League record 62 home runs and narrowly missing out on becoming the 16th player to win a Triple Crown.
The 2022 season for Judge will go down as one of the greatest single seasons for any professional athlete in sports history. He led the Majors in almost every offensive category and played a Gold Glove caliber center field with all eyes on him. Over the off-season Judge earned himself a nine-year $360 million deal with the Yankees in addition to becoming the team’s first captain since the retirement of Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
2. Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts has been one of the most consistent players in the Majors since his debut in 2014.
Since then, he’s accrued seven consecutive All-Star appearances, an MVP, a 30-30 season, six Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger Awards.
Last year Betts, who will be representing the culture for Team USA in this year’s World Baseball Classic had his best season since he became a Dodger in 2020. He hit 35 home runs and slugged .533 with 82 RBI.
3. Triston “Dr. Sticks” McKenzie
Triston McKenzie is one of the top young arms in the game and he comes into 2023 with a puncher’s chance to become the first Black pitcher to win the Cy Young Award since David Price in 2012.
Mckenzie posted a 2.96 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 2022 and allowed a batting average against of .201. All of those put him in the top 10 amongst all Major League pitchers.
4. Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson is the unspoken hero and originator of the “Let the kids play” movement and like wine he will continue to get better with time.
Anderson, who won the Major League batting title in 2019 did not play competitive baseball until his junior year of high school, started for the American League at shortstop in last year’s All-Star Game.
He has hit over .300 for four consecutive seasons and will join Betts in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA.
5. Marcus Semien
Marcus Semien won the inaugural 2021 MLBbro Player of the Year Award for his record breaking 2021 which saw him hit 45 home runs, the most ever by a second baseman. Despite a slow start at the plate, Semien who led the American League in games played and at-bats, stole a career-high 25 bases.
His 81 RBI, five triples, 26 home runs, 31 doubles and 162 hits were all top four among his position peers.
6. Cedric “CM Storm” Mullins
Cedric Mullins is a five-tool player and is living proof that size does not measure heart in baseball. In 2021, the 5-foot-8 Mullins became the first Baltimore Oriole to join the 30/30 club.
Last season Mullins’ career-high 34 steals were the third most in baseball and he was one of the main catalysts for the massive and somewhat unexpectedly quick turnaround for the O’s franchise. He will also be joining Team USA during the World Baseball Classic.
7.” Money” Michael Harris
The 2022 National League Rookie of the Year took the Majors by storm with his combination of power and speed on offense to go along with being one of the best defenders in baseball.
Last year Harris finished with both 20 home runs and 20 steals, so with a full season and experience under his belt he will look to join Mullins as a member of the 30/30 club.
8. Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Jazz Chisholm AKA “The Bahamian Blur” is one of the most explosive players in the Majors and will become the first Bahamian born athlete to be on a video game cover when he graces the cover of MLB The Show 2023. Before a back injury ended his 2022 campaign, Chisholm, who was named an All-Star, led Miami in almost every offensive category.
Let’s shock the system! 🎷😎 Introducing Jazz Chisholm as the cover athlete for MLB The Show 23.
Devin Williams “Airbender” changeup is one of the nastiest pitches in baseball and it has helped him rise into the conversation of best closer in the Majors.
Williams became the Brewers full-time closer after last season’s trade deadline, finishing with 15 saves, 96 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA. Williams is the only Black pitcher on the roster for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
10. Byron Buxton
The difference between being ranked at 10 and being in the top three is simply availability for Byron Buxton. Big Bux has played less than 100 games every year since 2017 due to different injuries, but when in the lineup, he stands as one of the best all-around players in the Majors.
He showed what he can do against the league’s best when he hit the game-winning home run in Los Angeles during his first career All-Star Game.
World Series champion Mookie Betts and All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson highlight the group of four #MLBbros representing the United States in the World Baseball Classic.
Mookie Betts is coming off his seventh consecutive All-Star season which saw him win his sixth Gold Glove and fifth Silver Slugger award.
A top five player in all of baseball, Betts is a lethal weapon on offense and defense and his versatility will be key in USA’s quest for a second straight Gold Medal. MLBbros Marcus Stroman, Andrew McCutchen and Adam Jones led Team USA to the last WBC title in 2017.
That highlighted Anderson’s first career batting championship and since then, he has built himself into one of the Majors top shortstops. Anderson started for the American League in the All-Star Game last season and was the cover boy for RBI Baseball 2021. He will split playing time with Trea Turner of the Philadelphia Phillies during Pool Play, but Anderson’s ability with the bat makes him a perfect candidate for the Designated Hitter role.
The leader of one of the most exciting teams in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles, Mullins who stands just 5’8 became the first player in their franchises history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season back in 2021 and finished third in the Majors with 34 steals last year.
Mullins will be following in the footsteps of former Orioles All-Star outfielder Jones whose home run robbery in an elimination game in the 2017 Classic against The Dominican Republic was the play of the tournament.
The only Black pitcher on the U.S. roster has a chance to stamp himself the best reliever in the sport.
Known as “The Airbender” for having one of the greatest changeups ever, Devin Williams has been one of the most dominant relievers since 2020 when he won the National League’s Rookie of the Year. Most of his innings have come while in the setup role, but after the Brewers traded Josh Hader his job description changed to closer.
In three seasons, Williams has 250 strikeouts and a solid career ERA standing at 2.03. He will have his chance in the spotlight as he will be called on to get out some of baseball’s greatest talents with world supremacy on the line.
Mookie Betts has now been in the league for nine seasons. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago when he was a rising star in Boston. Now, the 30-year-old continues to rack up accolades and is always the topic of conversation around the league. How can you not like a player like the five-tool talented Betts? He can do it all out there on the field.
Mookie Betts Trying To Get More Blacks On Baseball Field & In Front Office
Now that Betts has established himself as one of the game’s premiere talents, he also is one of the few MLBbros who publicly expresses his desire to address the racial disparity on every level of baseball. He wants to be an agent for promoting baseball to the Black communities and inspiring the next generation of MLBbros.
Mookie Betts Continues To Post Hall Of Fame Numbers
Betts had an impressive 2022 season. He finished with a .269 batting average, a career-high 35 home runs, 82 RBI, and 117 runs scored. He led the team in home runs and was tied for first in runs scored. Going into the postseason, the Dodgers were one of the favorites to win the title. This was Betts worst postseason as far as hitting. He finished hitting .143 in the four games he played. He’s sure to come back stronger in 2023.
Other than the disappointing postseason, this brother rebounded from an injury-ridden 2021 with a typical productive explosion. We got a chance to see that power he possesses at the leadoff spot. You can argue that he was one of the best leadoff hitters in the game this season. A true franchise player that is the cornerstone of any team he’s on.
Betts is an all-around athlete who can get it done at the plate and on the field. He was named to his sixth all-star team this season and also won his sixth Gold Glove Award. And let’s not forget how strong of an arm this man has too. He has an absolute rocket out there in right field. He can evern play second base.
Mookie Betts Has Rifle In Outfield, Can Play Infield
You better believe those players know better to run on Betts when a ball is hit out his way. He finished with eight assists in right field and made some unbelievable plays out there in right too. Next year will be season 10 for Betts and don’t expect our MLBbro to lose a single step out there on the field.
One thing he has to stay away from is injuries, and if he can do that, then he’ll continue to rack up the accolades and make all-star teams. Betts’ unique abilities are proven by certain statistical accomplishments. He has stolen 10 or more bases in his last eight seasons. He finished with 12 this season and was only caught twice.
Don’t be surprised if you see him steal another 10 plus bases, even at his age. When it’s all said and done, Betts will be a Hall of Famer and will go down as one of the most successful players in history. It’s really hard to not mention the multiple World Series winner when you discuss the top players in baseball. And it’s been like that for the past few years.
If you ask Betts, he will tell you two titles is not enough, so as long as he’s playing, he’s going to do his best to help put his team in a position to win games and win another World Series.
The Boston Red Sox made one of the underrated moves of the offseason when the franchise signed Japanese outfielder Matasaka Yoshida, who some have called the best hitter for Japan’s Orix Buffaloes since the great Ichiro Suzuki.
Unfortunately, Yoshida’s $90M contract comeup resulted in MLBbro Jeter Downs, the top prospect in the Red Sox organization, being designated for assignment. In what is reported as a surprise move, Boston needed to free up a spot on the team’s 40-man roster in order to officially complete the signing of Yoshida and did so at Downs’ expense.
Downs, a first-round pick of the Cincinatti Reds in the 2017 MLB Draft, got a cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 2021. The 24-year-old played in 14 games. Over that stretch, the young infielder slashed .154/.171/.256, clubbed one home run and drove in four runs.
Here’s some MLBbro history for your dome piece:
Downs was the top prospect acquired by the Red Sox along with outfielder Alex Verdugo and catcher Connor Wong from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for six-time All-Star Mookie Betts.
After being designated for assignment, Downs either now will be traded or will be placed on waivers where any team in the MLB can place a claim, and if successful he would immediately be added to their 40-man roster. If no team were to place a claim on Downs, he could return to Boston’s farm system.
Boston discards another promising Black player. Well, if you can trade off Mookie Betts then anything is possible. The versatile middle infielder will surely get picked up. He has tremendous power, and his main focus is trying to shake his boom-or-bust label when it comes to productivity at the plate.
Expect this young and talented MLBbro to be playing in the Major Leagues somewhere this season.