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.
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.
Black baseball will be displayed around the globe during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. In addition to superstars Mookie Betts, Cedric Mullins and Tim Anderson, who will be playing for Team USA and the legendary Ken Griffey Jr. who will serve as the team’s hitting coach, we have some Bros that will be repping other countries.
Despite a back injury putting an early end to his 2022 season, Jazz Music will be heard around the world during the World Baseball Classic. Chisholm, who was born in the Bahamas (a former British colony) will be playing for Team Great Britain for the second time since 2017.
Before a stress fracture in his back basically ended his season before July, Chisholm was a strong candidate to start at second for the National League in the All-Star Game, and maybe even earn himself a few MVP votes.
Live At The Ball Park | Exclusive Interview With Miami Marlins “Bahamian Blur” Jazz Chisolm
In the championship game of the last World Baseball Classic Marcus Stroman went six no hit innings to lead Team USA to an 8-0 win over Puerto Rico.
This time he will still be rocking red, white and blue, but this time it will be for the same Puerto Rico team he dominated. Stroman, who has a 2.50 ERA in his last six starts this season was named the Most Valuable Player last WBC after throwing 15.1 innings and finishing with a 2.35 ERA. He will be joining one of the best teams in the tournament from top to bottom and be managed by future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina, who is retiring after this season.
LaTroy Hawkins who pitched 21 seasons as a Major League reliever will be a coach for Team Brazil in this year’s Classic. Hawkins finished his career with a 4.31 ERA and pitched for Team USA back in the 2009 WBC.
LaTroy Hawkins mic'd up and talking about Angels prospect Reid Detmers' "sneaky-ass wind-up" during the Futures Game. 😂
It is well documented by now that whether if it’s mainstream media or in blue-collar workplaces, representation is vital. The representation of a gender or race has proven to be effective in attracting more of that class that is being initially represented. The same logic applies to professional sports. Major League Baseball is the third most popular sport in the country yet less than 8% of the league’s players are represented by black players. This is largely due to fewer opportunities for Black and brown American born baseball players to gain notoriety.
That is why the announcement of Hall of Famer, and all-time great outfielder and MLBbro Ken Griffey Jr. as the Hitting Coach for Team USA is exceptional. As one of the most notable MLBbros of all time, representing not only the MLB but America on this big stage is a great way to represent the minimal black presence in our game.
In his playing days, “The Kid” as he was known, was arguably the most dynamic player to ever step onto a baseball field. The true definition of a five-fool player, there was nothing he could not do on the field. He played with a charisma and flair that had an effect on young black kids all over the country. He made a sport that was known as boring and uneventful to some and made it seem cool and remarkable. It is only fitting that someone of his caliber be placed on to the Team USA coaching staff. Not only will his influence be welcomed with the team, but his mere presence brings not only black fans but potentially more black future players.
Griffey Jr. is more than qualified to teach the art of hitting. With over 600 Home runs, 2700 plus hits, and 1800 plus RBI he is one of the best all-around pure hitters the game has seen. He posted these numbers while batting .284 over a 22-year big league career. Not to mention “The Kid” has one of the most recognizable and iconic swings of all time.
The World Baseball Classic does not officially return until 2023, but with the addition of Griffey Jr. to the staff, the team is already gaining momentum and giving fans reason to be optimistic about a repeat of its 2017 championship. Seeing him work with the roster of some of our best players in the game should be a welcome sight. It will also be interesting to see him work with young MLBbro Cedric Mullins, who has similar tools to Griffey Jr. whose His Hall of Fame impact should have a great influence on the entire club.