Baseball's Best National Teams: The IBAF World Rankings

For those who are interested, the latest IBAF World Rankings are:

1. Cuba*
2. USA*
3. Korea*
4. Japan*
5. Chinese Taipei*
6. The Netherlands*
7. Canada*
8. Mexico*
9. Panama*
10. Australia*
11. Puerto Rico*
12. Nicaragua
13. Italy*
14. China*
15. Venezuela*
16. Spain
17. Dominican Republic*
18. Brazil
19. Germany
20. South Africa*
21. Czech Republic
22. Phillippines
23. Great Britain
24. Colombia
25. Sweden
26. Thailand
27. France
28. Netherlands Antilles
29. Nigeria
30. Russia
31. Ghana
32. Ukraine
33. Virgin Islands
34. Croatia
35. Aruba
36. Zimbabwe
37. Greece
38. Lesotho
39. Austria
40. Lithuania
40. Bahamas
42. Guatemala
43. Cameroon
44. Hong Kong
44. Pakistan

*Boldface and asterisks indicate 2009 WBC participants.

There are a few surprises here. As massive as it is, India has no team that qualifies for an IBAF ranking? China is ranked above Venezuela?

The WBC is likely to shake these rankings up a bit (if it counts as an IBAF event – I’m not sure about that), especially as the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are going to be stocked with Major League talent unavailable to them for other events.

  • This year’s Dominican team at the WBC is definitely stronger than the previous incarnation, and they didn’t do too badly last time. They should be considered a definite contender.

  • According to their big star, A-Roid, they have plenty of rankings-improving materiel.

  • The rankings definitely need lots of work when China is ranked above Venezuela. Anyways, much to my surprise WBC is an IBAF sanctioned event. Not sure how the bigwigs in MLB and IBAF managed to work that one out, but that’s a good thing for baseball in general.

  • I can’t find any confirmation of this right now, but IIRC, there were a couple countries (Cuba and Japan come to mind) that refused to take part in the WBC if it was not sanctioned by the IBAF.

  • On paper, the 2009 Dominican Republic team might be the best lineup to ever step on a diamond.

    If I was manager:

    1. Jose Reyes 2B (but a natural SS)
    2. Alfonso Soriano LF
    3. Albert Pujols 1B
    4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
    5. Miguel Tejada SS
    6. David Ortiz DH
    7. Vladimir Guerrero RF
    8. Moises Alou CF (a natural LF)
    9. Ronny Paulino C

    Bench: Adrian Beltre (3B), Sammy Sosa (RF), etc.

    Imagine if Manny was playing left? Hands down, best lineup ever. But they probably can’t afford Manny.

    The problem comes with the pitching staff. Bartolo Colon is the big name, and he’s going to have to pull through big time to make up for the rest of the staff, which seems to be packed with “free agents.”

    These guys are going to have to keep up massive run production to keep winning, and they should be able to do so, with maybe the easiest opening bracket – Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico.

    After round one, the question becomes: Would you rather have the DR’s lineup or Japan’s pitching staff?

  • After seeing Japan’s pitching staff get held down and used as a bunch of blow-up dolls by a Saitama B-team last night, I’d take the DR’s line-up.

    Venezuela looks impressive on paper as well. The Eastern side of Latin America is turning up the heat this year and makes me glad I’ll be in South Florida for Round 2. (On the off chance that any Tsubamegun reader will be in the Ft. Lauderdale area, shoot me an e-mail and maybe we can grab a pre- or post-game beer.)

  • dan

    taking only a cursory look at the method for generating these rankings, it seems pretty clear that there’s just not enough data for proper national team competition for this to make sense – the results of the 16-under youth worlds shouldn’t have any bearing at all on these rankings! FIFA is able to do this much better because there are always (football/soccer) matches going on between countries throughout the year, although even then there are usually anomalies, like the USA being ranked #10 for quite a while…

    this is interesting to see, though.

  • I couldn’t agree more, Dan. There clearly need to be separate rankings for overall program strength and for men’s national teams. For the men’s national teams, the rankings we care about, the weight given to different events needs to be carefully considered. There are plenty of international baseball events, but most of them are amateur (the World Baseball Classic, after all, is the “World Baseball Classic” partly because the amateur Baseball World Cup already existed.)

    It would also be a good idea to develop some kind of strength ranking based on perceived on-paper strength, which would even the difference between, say, the Venezuelan and Dominican teams with and without MLB players.

  • Shumai Bento

    The problem is that MLB wants to run baseball globally. You would never see an European football association such as the Premiereship wanting to run football world wide and host the World Cup. Othert countries would laugh. MLB not wanting to send their players if the tournament is not hosted by MLB speaks volumes of how narrow minded MLB really is.

    While there is WBC now, this is an MLB organized tournament and the games will be played in USA so US is already having an enormous home adavantage already. In the last tournament US even had biased nationalistic American umpires making outrageous calls.

    In the future it would be better for baseball if MLB would let go of their paranoid nationalistic fortress menatlity and have proper international tournaments but the WBC is better than nothing.

  • MLB not wanting to send their players if the tournament is not hosted by MLB speaks volumes of how narrow minded MLB really is.

    Whether or not players participate is up to them and their teams, not MLB. If you have documented evidence of MLB not wanting or allowing a specific player to participate, please let us know.

    In the last tournament US even had biased nationalistic American umpires making outrageous calls.

    Again, a claim made with no evidence to back it up. Do you have documented evidence proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that even a single umpire at the last WBC was “nationalistic”? Anything that could stand up in a court of law?

  • Plenty of circumstantial evidence for Bob Davidson, at least. Thankfully he’s not in the umpiring crew this time around, which is a lot more international.

    It’s interesting that WBC is an IBAF sanctioned event, even though it doesn’t require participating players to be passport holders of the countries they represent.

  • Not sure if this was done on purpose or just a horrendous call that went in USA’s favour, but here’s a Mexico homerun being called back despite it hitting the foul poll.

    There was also another missed call where Japan should have scored:
    “With the bases loaded, one out and Joe Nathan pitching, Akinori Iwamura skied a fly to medium left that was caught by Randy Winn, who was late in his throw to the plate to nab the tagging Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The U.S. appealed that Nishioka left early, but lost. Buck Martinez stormed out and pushed American umpire Bob Davidson all over the field; Davidson caved and overruled the call. Three outs, no run. Replays were clear – he left after the catch. A terrible, embarassing call.”
    http://tomwatson.typepad.com/tom_watson/2006/03/absolute_baseba.html

    Couldn’t find a video of the latter missed call.

  • N26

    I heard the reason why MLB would not show up for the Olympics is because Americans were scared that the team would get disqualified for using steroids:) MLB vs IBAF is like UEFA vs FIFA. Counter productive.

  • And NHL vs IIHF. Counterproductive. Maybe there’s a basketball equivalent as well, but I don’t follow that sport.

  • While UEFA vs. FIFA seems counter-productive, I’m not as sure about NHL vs. IIHF and think MLB and IBAF do rather different things, although more coordination would be a good idea.

  • Shumai Bento

    It is unthinkable in football/soccer for instance that an English ref would be reffing in a game where England is playing. The outrageous calls going in favor of US in the last WBC should be reason good enough to why Americans should not be umpiring in a game where US is playing. Bob Davidson was tragic, giving US a bad name in baseball.

    In the future it would be better if IBAF organized international tournaments and each baseball league and country could send their best players to the tournament. Much like how FIFA runs the World Cup.

    I also think it would be better to play these games after the season ends instead of before the season starts or even during All Star break..? The pitch count rule should be scrapped.

    Having WBC in US each time is also unfair. Should change hosts but then I think other countries will struggle more with attendance You see how low the attendance is even in Japan when Japan is not playing where as in US there are huge crowds eventhough US is not playing.

  • The first round of WBC 2009 are being played entirely outside of the US. The group games are held in Tokyo, Toronto, Mexico City, and San Juan. The later rounds being held in the US is probably more of an MLB thing.

  • Shumai Bento

    WBC goes in favor of Japan too as Round 1 games are always played in Tokyo Dome. Having played away and beating Japan, what the Koreans did last time was very impressive. I would love to see Round 1 being played in Taiwan or Korea or China. The same goes with Konami Cup/Asian Series which always is played in Tokyo Dome too.

    I do love WBC but I think there is so much more things which can be done to promote baseball on a global scale. One of the best ways topromote baseball is to have lots of international competitions.

  • Yeah, the Asia Round is totally rigged in Japan’s favour, what with getting to play China first as well.

    I can see the Asia Series and WBC being held in Taiwan if Taiwanese baseball wasn’t in the middle of the huge match fixing scandal mess.. and also had a sponsor like Yomiuri.

    Korea needs a dome for March and November ball, simple as that. (Apparently construction is set to begin? but who knows with the current economy.)

  • “But who knows with the current economy.”

    They’ll probably start working on it around the same time President Myeong-bak Lee breaks ground on his pet project, a canal that bisects the country from north to south.

  • This year’s Dominican team at the WBC is definitely stronger than the previous incarnation, and they didn’t do too badly last time. They should be considered a definite contender.

    I stand corrected.

  • cuban23

    ok the cuban team is the beast team in the world and dominican republic aint got nothing on them the dominican republic might be good but cuba is better and i know that they are gona win again like the records # 1992 – Gold Medal
    # 1996 – Gold Medal
    # 2000 – Silver Medal
    # 2004 – Gold Medal
    # 2008 – Silver Medal and even if htey got 6th place in 2009 next time they will get 1st like always

  • kpride

    as of 10/7/09, KOREA is ranked 2nd in the world, behind cuba and ahead of JAPAN. thank you.