While Major League Baseball refers to its championship as the World Series, baseball fans know that the only true world championship in the sport is the World Baseball Classic.
In this World Baseball Classic betting guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know in order to bet on this prestigious event. Whether it’s knowing when the tournament is, which are the best sites for betting on it, which countries are participating, or which nations are typically the most successful, you’ll feel a lot more confident about wagering on the World Baseball Classic once you’re done reading this page.
The World Baseball Classic is contested once every four years, similar to the Olympics or the World Cup. The tournament is held before the start of Major League Baseball’s regular season in order to allow MLB players to participate.
The next edition of the World Baseball Classic is slated for 2021. Preliminary-round games are played at various stadiums throughout the world, but games in the championship round have always been played at MLB stadiums in the United States.
Due to the World Baseball Classic’s international appeal and with many of us suffering from baseball withdrawal following a long winter, virtually every sports betting site offers betting odds on the WBC.
However, as you may already know, not all betting sites are created equal. Some are much better than others when it comes to their history of payouts to winning players, which is the number-one thing you should be concerned about when signing up at an online sportsbook and depositing real money. Other things you should look at are how player-friendly the site’s deposit and withdrawal methods are, the quality of their customer service, whether they offer a wide selection of betting options, and even how their odds compare to other sites.
In case you don’t have time to research all of those things yourself, we’ve put together this short list of the top betting sites for the World Baseball Classic, based on the criteria we listed above.
The World Baseball Classic tournament consists of 16 teams. Automatic entry is granted to the top 12 teams from the previous tournament, while the last four spots are granted to the winners of four four-team double-elimination qualifying tournaments.
The 12 teams already confirmed for the 2021 World Baseball Classic are:
Mexico, Chinese Taipei, Canada, and China finished in the bottom four of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, meaning that they’ll have to earn their way back by winning a qualification tournament.
Any player with citizenship or lineage to one of the participating countries is eligible to play in the World Baseball Classic. Past participants in the WBC include such MLB superstars as Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, Pedro Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre, and Robinson Cano.
At the beginning of the World Baseball Classic, the teams are divided into four four-team pools. The opening round consists of a round-robin in which each team plays every other team in their pool and the top two teams in each pool advance to the second round.
At that point, the eight remaining teams are divided into two four-team pools, and another round-robin schedule is contested. The top two teams in each pool in Round 2 qualify for the semifinals, while the bottom two finishers are eliminated. The semifinals and final (also known as the championship round) are single-elimination games.
Yes, there are several rules that you need to be aware of if you are planning on betting on the World Baseball Classic.
All of these rules can affect your betting strategy for the World Baseball Classic. For example, knowing that run differential is important will mean that heavy favorites won’t let up when they have a big lead, increasing their chances of covering a large run line. Meanwhile, one pitcher won’t be able to dominate the game as much as they might in Major League Baseball, where there are no restrictions on the number of pitches they can throw.
Japan has been the most successful country in the short history of the World Baseball Classic, claiming medals in each of the four tournaments. The Japanese won the first two editions of the WBC in 2006 and 2009, then claimed bronze medals at the 2013 and 2017 tourneys (there is no bronze-medal game, so third place is determined by the World Baseball Softball Confederation).
Other than Japan’s early dominance, the WBC has enjoyed strong competitive balance. The tournament has had two different champions in each of its last two editions (Dominican Republic in 2013 and the United States in 2017), Puerto Rico made the finals in both tournaments, and six countries have won either one or two medals in WBC history.
Japan, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States have advanced to the second round of every WBC, while Australia, Canada, and China have yet to make it past the opening round.
The World Baseball Classic has delivered plenty of memorable moments over the years, from brilliant performances to Cinderella stories to controversies.
Here are some of the most notable moments from each of the first four World Baseball Classics:
>> March 3, 2006: The first-ever World Baseball Classic game was played at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. A crowd of just 5,000 fans attended the game as South Korea blanked Chinese Taipei 2-0
>> March 12, 2006: American umpire Bob Davidson made an errant call that benefited the United States in its game against Japan, ruling that a Japanese runner tagged from third base too early. Japan took its players off the field in protest and nearly forfeited the game, but the game resumed, and the United States won by one run. Davidson also made a controversial ruling favoring the USA later in the tournament, although the Americans lost that game to Mexico and were eliminated
>> March 20, 2006: Japan won the inaugural World Baseball Classic title with a 10-6 victory over Cuba at Petco Park in San Diego. Ichiro Suzuki played a starring role, scoring three runs while adding two hits and an RBI. Red Sox star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was named tournament MVP
>> March 8, 2009: The United States edged Canada 6-5 in a thrilling back-and-forth contest in front of 42,000 fans at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The victory by the Americans avenged a stunning 8-6 loss to Canada in the 2006 WBC
>> March 10, 2009: Netherlands shockingly advanced to the second round of the World Baseball Classic by defeating the Dominican Republic 2-1 in 11 innings. Netherlands had finished 11th in the inaugural World Baseball Classic
>> March 23, 2009: Japan repeated as World Baseball Classic champions, defeating South Korea 5-3 in 10 innings at Dodger Stadium. The game drew a record crowd of 54,846, and Suzuki once again lead the way with a four-hit performance. Matsuzaka earned his second straight World Baseball Classic MVP award
>> March 17, 2013: Japan’s reign of the World Baseball Classic was ended with a 3-1 loss to Puerto Rico at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Alex Rios delivered the decisive blow in the game, clubbing a two-run homer in the seventh inning to give Puerto Rico a 3-0 lead
>> March 19, 2013: The Dominican Republic blanked Puerto Rico 3-0 in the WBC championship game at AT&T Park to become the first team to finish the tournament with an undefeated record. Edwin Encarnacion drove in two runs with a first-inning double, five Dominican pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout, and Robinson Cano was named tournament MVP
>> March 9, 2017: Israel, the 41st-ranked baseball nation in the world, concluded a shocking 3-0 performance in the opening round with a 4-2 victory over Netherlands. Israel continued its improbable run in the second round with a 4-1 win over Israel three days later, but the Israelis were later eliminated by losses to Netherlands and Japan
>> March 12, 2017: Colombia nearly upset the defending champion Dominican Republic in opening-round action, when a Colombian runner representing the game-winning run was thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Though the Dominicans eventually won the game 10-3 in 11 innings, Colombia (which also extended the United States to extra innings earlier in the tournament) clinched its spot in the 2021 WBC with a 1-2 record
>> March 22, 2017: The United States claimed its first-ever WBC crown, whipping Puerto Rico 8-0 at Dodger Stadium. Marcus Stroman allowed one hit in six shutout innings to finish the tournament with a 2.35 ERA in his three starts, earning the World Baseball Classic MVP award
Although baseball was first contested at the Olympic Summer Games in 1904, the sport always lacked an international tournament that would truly determine which nation was the best in the world.
Baseball didn’t gain official Olympic status until 1992, professional players were not permitted until 2000, and the timing of the Summer Games meant that Major League Baseball players weren’t able to participate. Another international tournament, the Baseball World Cup, was limited to amateurs until 1988, after which only professional minor leaguers competed.
When the International Olympic Committee announced in 2005 that baseball and softball would no longer be part of the Olympics by 2012, the International Baseball Federation decided it was finally time to run its own tournament. After making compromises to address MLB owners’ concerns about potential injuries to their star players and the MLB players’ union’s objections to stricter drug testing, the World Baseball Classic was founded and modeled after soccer’s World Cup as a tournament designed to draw the top professional players from across the world.
The first two World Baseball Classics (2006 and 2009) were limited to the 16 countries that were either traditional baseball powers, had produced many professional players, or reflected international baseball’s geographic diversity. However, the arbitrary process precluded other nations from ever competing, leading the WBC to implement a qualifying process for the 2013 tournament. Teams who had finished in the top 12 of the previous tournament were automatically invited to the next one, while the bottom four finishers had to earn their way back by winning double-elimination qualifying tournaments.
Although the first WBC game in 2006 was played in front of just 5,000 fans, the event has grown in popularity over the years. The 2017 tournament drew nearly one million fans in the first two rounds, representing a 24% increase from 2013, and more than 200,000 people attended games in Tokyo alone.
Thanks to its continued growth, the WBC is expected to remain in existence for years to come, despite the fact that baseball and softball will once again be part of the Olympics beginning in 2020. In fact, MLB Network commentators Kevin Millar and Chris Rose have openly expressed their desire to see the WBC held every two years instead of every four.
The World Baseball Classic has been such a great event for baseball fans that it’s a shame we only get to see it once every four years.
On the other hand, the rarity of the tournament might be one reason it’s so special. It’s also a reason you don’t want to miss betting on the action, since you’ll have to wait another four years for the next one to come around.
Now that you are aware of how the tournament works (including some of the unique rules) and which countries tend to be the top performers, you’ll be ready to bet on the next WBC with confidence. Make sure you’re using one of the top World Baseball Classic betting sites, and take a shot at winning some money the next time the top baseball nations in the world gather together to determine an international champion!