Who’s excited for the World Baseball Classic?
Besides me and, like 15 baseball nerds, it doesn’t appear to be that many. Except for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who announced last week that he has been preparing for the international tournament. Just today, Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy announced that he would be playing on the American roster as well. So I guess that makes 17.
Here’s why you should be excited, too.
This is not the first time that Ryan Braun will have represented his country in the World Baseball Classic, he had that honor once before in the 2009 run of the tourney during his second full season of Major League Baseball. Braun did pretty well, too. Ok, he did really well, hitting .381 in six games.
Jonathan Lucroy is a newcomer to the United States team, but his hot start in 2012 and his continued success with runners on base after his injury no doubt earned him a spot on the team. He’ll be joining his teammate on the American roster, and likely a team filled with star power. It is certainly an honor that two Milwaukee Brewers (so far) were picked to play in the World Baseball Classic.
Norichika Aoki, by the way, had a standing invitation to play on the reigning champion Japanese team, but declined to play.
For the two Brewers who are playing, there are added benefits to the spot on the roster. Besides a few extra weeks in Arizona while the rest of us are stuck in the Hinterlands of Wisconsin. It also means that the two players have begun participating in baseball activities to get prepared for the upcoming tournament – at least Braun has said as much. In 2009, after his first appearance in the WBC, Braun got off to an incredibly hot start, and ended up knocking a career high in hits and one of his highest RBI totals. Now, obviously correlation does not equal causation, but it’s an encouraging thought going into a season where we might need all the extra offense we can get.
Do I think Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun will have monstrous offensive
years because they played a few extra exhibition games? I cant say anything for sure. But I can say I would rather have them in a rhythm as soon as possible. There are benefits for Lucroy, certainly, not only at the plate – but behind it as well.
International teams can sometimes have a higher dependence on bunting, small ball, and baserunning. Having Lucroy get significant time behind the plate against such teams will help to improve his defense even more than the strides he has made previously. He can call a good game and is one of the best in the league at framing pitches – but I’d be lying if I said his arm from home to second didn’t need help, or his ability to hold runners. This is a great opportunity to get more practice at it and I will be interested to see how he works.
All in all, if you are a Milwaukee Brewers fan, you now have two more reasons to check out the World Baseball Classic this spring. And if the world will indeed be watching this tournament, the Brewers would be hard pressed to find better examples of who we are than Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun.