Ronald Acuña Jr. Joins Loaded Venezuelan National Team for World Baseball Classic, Still Remain With Fifth-Best Odds to Win

The Atlanta Braves were hesitant at first to let their star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. play in the World Baseball Classic because of the knee injury he suffered in 2021. The team felt he should get a full offseason to rest and get better for the long grind of the MLB season. Doctors and team personnel had a change of heart after their evaluation concluded he has had no knee issues.

MLB Stars On Venezuelan WBC Roster? 

Acuña joins Astros second baseman Jose Altuvé, Royals catcher Salvador Pérez, Marlins infielder and 2023 batting champion Luiz Arraez, Twins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez, and Tigers future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.

Pérez had a rough 2022 season after having his best season in 2021, when he led all catchers in hits (121) and home runs (48).

Altuvé had one his typical All-Star caliber seasons in 2022. He had a batting average of .300, had 158 hits, hit 28 home runs, and had 57 RBI.

Acuña missed the first month and half recovering from his knee injury but showed flashes of his old self. He had 124 hits, 15 home runs, a .266 batting average, and stole 29 bases in 119 games.

Venezuela finished third in 2009, which was their best finish. They are looking to be even better with a mix of young and older talent as well as a roster loaded with 19 MLB players. The tournament starts on March 8, and official rosters were announced on Feb. 9.

Said one MLB Network analyst during the roster announcement show:

“This is the deepest roster and pitching staff I have seen Venezuela have. Do not be surprised if the team makes the semi-finals.”

Best Odds to Win

Team USA looks to repeat as World Baseball Classic champions after capturing the first WBC title in 2017. America is co-favorite with a loaded Dominican Republic squad at +225 odds. Japan represents the next team with the shortest odds to win with +300 odds.

Team USA is headlined by Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher Clayton Kershaw, Phillies shortstop Trea Turner, Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, and Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado. Bryce Harper will not be playing due to offseason elbow surgery.

DR has a slew of established MLB stars: Padres right fielder Juan Soto and third baseman Manny Machado, Phillies pitcher Luis Castillo and center fielder Julio Rodriguez, Marlins 2022 Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, and 2022 World Series MVP Jeremy Peña.

Japan boasts multiple WBC titles in 2006 and 2009. They have the third best odds (+450) to win but might have the biggest star. Shohei Ohtani will headline the Japanese squad along with Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki.

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Puerto Rico returns with the fourth best odds (+800) to win it. They will also look to avenge their 2017 loss in the WBC title game to Team USA. Marcus Stroman was a star for the American team in 2017, but he will cleat up for Puerto Rico this time around.

His mother is a native of the island. The most notable player to do this in the tournament’s history is Alex Rodriguez in 2009 when he switched from the Dominican Republic team to the American team but couldn’t play because of injury.

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