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What to Expect from Venezuela in 2023 World Baseball Classic

Venezuelan Superstars Prepared for 2023 WBC - Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/Twitter

NEW YORK– Does Team Venezuela have the talent capable of completing the unimaginable, to win the 2023 World Baseball Classic? The short answer would be, ‘yeah, with a lot of luck,’ however; as Miguel Cabrera, Pablo López, José Altuve, Salvador Perez, and Ronald Acuña Jr., lead the Venezuelans to this year’s tournament, perhaps we see them dominate in superior fashion.

If so, it’d be Venezuela’s first title in World Baseball Classic history – the country’s best finish came in the 2009 WBC; third place. Not to mention, I believe the 2023 Venezuelan Team is deeper, and more big-league proven compared to the 2009 roster. 

2023 Venezuela World Baseball Classic Official Roster – Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/Twitter

On the roster above, Team Venezuela has combined for 38 All-Stars appearances in their careers along with eight Latino MVP Awards. 

Miguel Cabrera: AL Latino MVP – 2009, 2012-2015

José Altuve: AL Latino MVP – 2017

Ronald Acuña Jr: NL Latino MVP Rookie – 2018 

Gleyber Torres: AL Latino MVP – 2019 

Gleyber Torres with his 2019 American League LatinoMVP Award – Image Credit: New York Yankees/MLB

Quite the list and track record, you’d want if you were manager Omar López

López, 46, of Valencia, Venezuela, served as a quality control coach for Venezuela in previous WBCs, and is currently the Houston Astros first base coach. He described his level of excitement when called upon for the opportunity:

“It’s probably one of the biggest (moments) in my entire career. I’ve always dreamed of representing Venezuela,” López said. “The only thing I’ve done in my career is work, work and keep working, doing my thing on a daily basis…”

“I feel privileged. It’s an honor to represent my country now.”

2023 WBC Venezuela manager Omar López – Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/Twitter

Team Venezuela, featured in the Pool D ‘gauntlet’, faces each of the following teams, once: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, and Israel. Pool D play begins March 11th and ends March 15th with two of the top teams (record wise), advancing to the Quarterfinals. 

Now, when discussing any superstar that represents their country to the fullest, you must start with a lock for the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, and five-time Latino MVP Award recipient, Miguel Cabrera, who announced last November that 2023 will be his final MLB season. 

Miguel Cabrera (Five-Time Latino MVP Award recipient) Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Cabrera, 39, of Maracay, Venezuela, will go down in MLB history as one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all-time: a seven-time Silver Slugger, four-time American League batting champion, and the 15th player ever to achieve a triple crown (2012). 

On a WBC note, Cabrera has hit a home run in each of the first four editions of the World Baseball Classic, and has six total, which is tied for second all-time in the tournament’s history. 

Additionally, López hinted that Cabrera doesn’t want to take away at-bats from the younger players. He said, “Miguel basically told me his plan. ‘Omar, I don’t want you to feel pressure to play me every day. I don’t want to take away at-bats from the young guys. I would like to go, as my last WBC, to support the team, and you tell me your plan.’”

Cabrera continues to be a true ambassador of the sport, on and off the diamond, but, regarding the at-bats, I’m expecting him to jolt the lineup alongside Altuve, Acuña Jr, Luis Arraez, and Andrés Giménez

Andrés Giménez & Miguel Cabrera leading up to the 2022 All Star Game – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

You never know when you’ll need that ‘once in a generation’ bat in Cabrera up again, so you better use him when the time to strike is there in front of you. 

Regardless, on the mound, Venezuela is projected to start a bolstering combo between Pablo López, Martín Pérez, Jesús Luzardo, Luis García, and Eduardo Rodriguez. Not the most pristine names out there layered on WBC rosters, though, they combined for a total of 962 strikeouts in 2022 with 42 wins. 

Luis García in 2021 World Series – Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Enforcement by the bullpen will come from Ranger Suárez, of Piedecuesta, Venezuela, and his teammate of the Philadelphia Phillies José Alvarado (Maracaibo, Venezuela). Both played vital roles in the Phillies’ road to the 2022 World Series, fanning 27 hitters combined throughout the postseason. 

As you may have noticed by now, the World Baseball Classic is more than just a competition… Having the chance to represent your country on the front of your jersey is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Provided below are more of those exact thoughts, but from the Venezuelan stars themselves, proud to be representing their country in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

“It’s amazing. It’s an honor for me to get to play,” Maracay native, and two-time World Series champion José Altuve said. 

José Altuve – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

“Obviously we have a big responsibility to go there and represent our country. To win, it would be an amazing thing for the people back home in Venezuela.”

“I’ll be available to go there and represent my country,” Texas Rangers Martín Pérez, of Guanare, Venezuela, noted. “I’ll try to do my best for the country and have fun.” 

“It’s a big honor,” Cleveland Guardians second baseman, and Barquisimeto native, Andrés Giménez said.

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Robert Rizzo is a journalist and co-editor of Latino Sports


Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and co-host Robert Rizzo

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