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An early guess at Team USA’s WBC lineup

Oct 17, 2012, 6:31 PM EDT

trout getty Getty Images

If Derek Jeter‘s broken ankle didn’t take him out of the mix for the World Baseball Classic the moment it happened, today’s news that he needs surgery definitely makes the issue moot.

But as unfortunate as Jeter’s injury is for the Yankees, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for Team USA in next spring’s World Baseball Classic. With Joe Torre running the show, one imagines Jeter would have been the team’s starting shortstop, even though he hardly seems like the best option.

Team USA has also lost another likely starter to surgery in the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp. Again, that’s hardly a disaster, though Kemp was the National League’s best player in 2011 and for the first month of 2012. There’s still plenty of talent to go around.

I’m just going to look at the position candidates for now, with perhaps a separate blog dedicated to pitching possibilities later.

Catcher: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters

It’ll obviously be a Posey-Mauer duo unless one of those two opts to step aside. Posey would probably do the bulk of the catching in the scenario, which is surely how the Twins would prefer it anyway.

First base: Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Adam LaRoche

Although Adrian Gonzalez was born in San Diego, he played for Mexico in the 2009 WBC. Team USA could use him here, but Fielder isn’t a bad alternative.

Second base: Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill, Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley

I’m listing Utley, though with his knee problems, I doubt he’ll opt in. Pedroia was set to be Team USA’s second baseman in 2009, but he was injured and replaced by Brian Roberts. I think he’s the best option here, but Phillips may well get the nod over him as a starter. The versatile Zobrist would be a perfect reserve.

Third base: Evan Longoria, David Wright, Chase Headley, Ryan Zimmerman, David Freese

Both Longoria and Wright were on the 2009 team, and it’d make sense to go with that duo again. Headley might have been the best of this bunch in 2012, but he still doesn’t have the track record of the top two.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins, Ian Desmond, J.J. Hardy

Given how much of the 2012 season Tulowitzki missed, one wonders if the Rockies might try to block him from playing in the WBC. Let’s hope not, because he’s pretty clearly Team USA’s best option at shortstop. If he’s unavailable, then Rollins is the logical starter.

Outfielders: Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Hamilton, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Holliday, Austin Jackson, Jay Bruce, Alex Gordon, Torii Hunter, Jason Heyward

Kemp would have looked pretty good as a starting right fielder, had he been willing to switch positions, but his loss isn’t a particularly big one. Hamilton seems like a long shot to play, particularly if he signs with a new team this winter.

So, how about this for a lineup:

RF Mike Trout – R
2B Dustin Pedroia – R
CF Andrew McCutchen – R
LF Ryan Braun – R
1B Prince Fielder – L
C Buster Posey – R
DH Giancarlo Stanton – R
3B Evan Longoria – R
SS Troy Tulowitzki – R

With a bench of Mauer, Zobrist, Rollins, Wright and one of the left-handed-hitting outfielders.

Yes, the entire group is righty heavy, but that’s pretty much the way it has to be. Torre can always start Mauer at catcher or DH or play Rollins at short if he wants some lefties in there.  It should have the edge on the outstanding Dominican lineup, that could include such talents as Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Jose Reyes and Adrian Beltre.

  1. dondada10 - Oct 17, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    The Americans and the Dominicans will have amazing line-ups. That has usually been the case during World Baseball Classics.

    And then Japan wins.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Doubt that Bautista will play, given his wrist surgery.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 17, 2012 at 9:05 PM

        Yeah, quite possible, though it’s worth noting that the Latin superstars are under more pressure to play than their Team USA counterparts.

    • jayquintana - Oct 18, 2012 at 2:03 AM

      Japan and Korea treat these games as real games, the U.S. and the Dominican Republic treat them as exhibitions.

      Will 2013 be the year when the U.S. doesn’t worry about everyone getting equal playing time and play the games to win?

  2. husky2score - Oct 17, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    What TV channel does this usually show up on? Also, this is gonna he a killer team.

  3. mrfloydpink - Oct 17, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Trout in RF and McCutchen in CF? What baseball league have you been watching?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 17, 2012 at 7:02 PM

      Trout is obviously the better center fielder of the two, but he’s also the one with experience moving around the outfield. So my guess is that he’d play right if paired with McCutchen.

      • natslady - Oct 17, 2012 at 7:34 PM

        No Bryce?

      • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 17, 2012 at 7:42 PM

        What has Harper done for you to believe he deserves a spot over any of those players? Maybe in 4 years.

    • natslady - Oct 17, 2012 at 7:44 PM

      Don’t you want to win the game? Or is it just seniority?

      • Jeremy T - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:15 PM

        sounds like he’s saying the downsides of McCutchen in right out-weight the upsides of Trout in center

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:05 PM

        LOL! While I don’t necessarily agree…I appreciate the spirit in which you post Lady.

    • scatterbrian - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:29 PM

      I think Trout has the better arm. Besides, one can still rob homers in right field.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:04 PM

      Yeah really. Finally…something we can agree on Floyd.

  4. rgledz - Oct 17, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    I’d take Denard Span over Gordon. Solid lead off guy, left handed bat and extremely disciplined at the plate. Versatile in the OF too.

    • natslady - Oct 17, 2012 at 7:54 PM

      Except that Bryce bats 2nd, the way you describe Span describes Bryce… y’know…

      • pmcenroe - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:50 AM

        yeah Span and Harper don’t exactly match up when it comes to plate discipline

  5. hojo20 - Oct 17, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    The WBC should use minor league players instead of wearing down the MLB players.

  6. billymc75 - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Really surprised that Braun and Kinsler aren’t plaing on the Israel team, thought I herd they were

    • rsnorth - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM

      Team Israel got bounced out in qualifying. They won’t be playing in March 2013.

  7. thebadguyswon - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    The WBC sucks. just another chance to get your teams players hurt.

  8. scatterbrian - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    USA also gets Verlander, so lineups won’t matter too much.

    • dondada10 - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:34 PM

      Because pitchers go deep into March games

  9. rockthered1286 - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Markakis, Jones? 2 great OF gloves and the bats to match? Nicky has been an assist machine for years but nothing? Jones had another great season but no shot?

    Amazing how well you play all year but one subpar offensive series in the playoffs (or injury in Nicky’s case) and you’re suddenly forgotten.

    Underdogs for 2013 I can see it again…

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 17, 2012 at 9:03 PM

      It’s not an All-Star Game… there are plenty of great players who really have no chance of cracking this team. Jones had a great season, but he wasn’t as good offensively or defensively as Jackson, a guy whose only real shot at the team would be if Trout or McCutchen opted out. Even then you’d have Bourn, Granderson, Ellsbury, Harper and Span as alternatives too. And those are just center fielders.

  10. klj58 - Oct 17, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    I think you have to consider Paul Goldschmidt over either Texiera or Howard. He certainly had a better year than they did.

  11. natsattack - Oct 17, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Markakis is Greek.

  12. Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    Jeter > Rollins

    • Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM

      Just to be clear, this is in response to the possibility Tulo not playing and the comment “one imagines Jeter would have been the team’s starting shortstop, even though he hardly seems like the best option.”

  13. Tim's Neighbor - Oct 18, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    So why is Rollins the clear choice after Tulo?

    • liamj55 - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      7th overall OPS in MLB and 3rd for American SS behind Jeter and Desmond. Desmond is listed above and Jeter is 38 coming off an injury. He is still a stellar fielder so what exactly is your point other than being a Jimmy Rollins hater…..

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