2023 World Baseball Classic: Japan Team Preview


The 2023 World Baseball Classic kicks off March 7, the first edition of this tournament since 2017. Japan is trying to win their third WBC championship, as they won it all in 2006 and 2009. Japan has never finished worse than third place and it’s safe to expect them to finish at the top or close to it again this year. The 2023 WBC is must-watch TV for all baseball lovers with the most talent-packed rosters to date. 


It will be tough to top what happened in 2017 when USA’s center fielder Adam Jones robbed his former Orioles teammate Manny Machado of a HR in an elimination game versus the Dominican Republic with the world watching. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something that we’ll remember for years. 

Japan Team Preview: WBC 2023

Japan opens its 2023 WBC tournament against Colombia March 9 in the Tokyo Dome. Japan and Korea, Australia, China, and the Czech Republic are part of the Pool B group. They face Korea the very next day but Japan is expected to win this group fairly easily, as they’re large favorites. (Check out the entire World Baseball Classic schedule.)

Here’s the WBC bracket (via, with the WBC Championship being played March 21 in Miami. 

WBC: Japan Roster

Japan’s roster is led by an absolutely stacked pitching staff that will undoubtedly be their strength. Their pitching rotation includes Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani and a couple of other studs. The big question is whether or not they’ll have enough offense to bring home another title. The loss of Seiya Suzuki with an oblique injury certainly hurts the club, as he was expected to be one of their better bats. We could see manager Hideki Kuriyama roll out a lineup that looks something like this: 

  1. Lars Nootbaar 
  2. Shohei Ohtani
  3. Masataka Yoshida
  4. Munetaka Murakami
  5. Shugo Maki
  6. Tetsuto Yamada
  7. Hotaka Yamakawa
  8. Kensuke Kondoh
  9. Takuya Kai

WBC: Japan Pitchers

The Japan pitching staff is the strength of the club, led by a couple of future Hall of Famers Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani. Yamamoto and Sasaki are a couple of young studs and it’s clear why some places have the Japanese team lined as WBC favorites. The Team Japan starting rotation should look something like this. 

The Japanese bullpen is stacked as well with Yuki Matsui, who is considered the best closer in Japan, and a bunch of great pitchers in Hiromi Itoh, Hiroya Miyagi, Hiroto Takahashi and Ryoji Kuribayashi. 


Japan WBC History

  • 2006: 1st
  • 2009: 1st
  • 2013: 3rd
  • 2017: 3rd

Team Japan Betting Odds 

via DraftKings Sportsbook

  • Japan to Win WBC: +300
  • Japan to Win Group – Pool B: -650 

Be sure to check out the rest of our World Baseball Classic team previews at FTNBets.


Added: Japan To Win 2023 World Baseball Classic +300 (0.5x)

Josh Gross helped with this team preview.

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