Men’s baseball is back at the Olympics for the first time since 2008 and is not expected until 2028 at the earliest. This makes this year particularly important for these teams to secure their gold claim.
Here are the odds and how that event went, along with a breakdown of the field.
Chances of gold
|2008||South Korea||Cuba||United States|
Japan has earned its place in this field with six teams as the host country, but the No. 1 club in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) baseball rankings would still have made its way into the event. Former Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka is the most notable name for the casual observer. That team, however, is littered with talent from Nippon Professional Baseball, who cut their season off to bolster the roster for the hosts and rightful favorites.
Japan’s last taste of Olympic baseball came in a semi-final loss to Team USA in 2008, which will be taking part in the event as the defending champions of the World Baseball Classic (2017) and will give the hosts a battle for their money. The US won’t show its top talent – MLB bans players with a 40-man roster – but the combination of former all-star Todd Frazier and top prospects like Triston Casas, Shane Baz and Simeon Woods-Richardson should enough to give the Americans a decent chance.
While the US has less chance of winning, South Korea actually has the second best team at this event according to the WBSC ranking, placing the Koreans behind Japan (No. 1) and Chinese Taipei (No. 2) and ahead of the USA (No. 4) in third place. The 2008 gold medalists are led by former KBO star and MLB racket Hyun Soo Kim, whose racket came under control in previous international competitions for South Korea.
The Dominican Republic narrowly missed this year’s field and won the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier in late June to secure sixth and final place. Do not count this group out because of this. The Dominicans pitching team was rebuilt ahead of this event, but their outfield is crammed with former MLB stars Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera and standout Julio Rodriguez, who is considered # 3 in the MLB perspective Baseball america.
Can Mexico do a surprise run on its Olympic baseball debut? The Mexicans defeated Team USA in WBSC Premier12 2019 to qualify for this event, without former MLB star Adrian Gonzalez, who entered the Mexican Baseball League in 2021 ahead of those Olympics.
Israel is the only team at this event that is outside the top 10 in the latest WBSC rankings. However, it was the first nation to qualify for this competition after dominating the WBSC Europe-Africa Qualifier in 2019. This group is headlined by Ian Kinsler, who led the US to a World Baseball Classic win in 2017.