Team USA's World Baseball Classic history

March 22nd, 2023

After a six-year hiatus, the World Baseball Classic returned with a bang in 2023, with a thrilling tournament culminating in Japan becoming the first three-time WBC champion. Team USA’s latest run represented its second consecutive appearance in the championship game, as we take a look back at America’s history in the World Baseball Classic.

2023 (lost in championship)
Final record: 5-2
Top player: Trea Turner (.391, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 1.483 OPS in seven games)

Team USA entered the tournament as one of the favorites due to a star-studded offense featuring the likes of former MVPs , , and . That powerful lineup, managed by former Team USA player Mark DeRosa, did not disappoint for the majority of the tournament, scoring at least nine runs in three of the team’s first six games.

Despite serving as the team’s No. 9 hitter for most of the WBC, Turner stole the show, tying the single-tournament record of five home runs previously set by Korea’s Seung Yuop Lee in the inaugural WBC of 2006. Four of Turner’s homers came in Team USA’s three knockout stage games, including a legendary grand slam to push America to a 9-7 quarterfinal win over previously unbeaten Venezuela.

Turner, a unanimous All-Tournament Team selection, had two more home runs in a 14-2 semifinal drubbing of Cuba. This led to a highly anticipated USA-Japan championship showdown, which culminated in an even more greatly anticipated Trout vs. Shohei Ohtani battle to decide the game. But Ohtani got his Angels teammate to go down swinging, denying Team USA in its bid to join Japan as the only repeat WBC champions.

2017 (won championship)
Final record: 6-2
Top player: Marcus Stroman (1-1, 2.35 ERA, 9 K, in 15 1/3 innings)

Despite some of the bigger Major League names opting out, the 2017 version of Team USA took home the WBC crown behind strong fundamental play, timely hitting and lights out pitching. Stroman led the way for Team USA, recording three strong starts (with the highlight being six scoreless frames in America's’ 8-0 win over Puerto Rico in the final) en route to being named WBC MVP. Stroman also played in the 2023 tournament, but did so while pitching for for Puerto Rico to honor his mother, Adlin.

Position players Eric Hosmer (one home run, five RBI) and Christian Yelich (four doubles, three RBI) joined Stroman on the All-World Baseball Classic team, while Adam Jones had a tremendous tournament that included some big hits and an even bigger catch.

2013 (eliminated in second round)
Final record: 3-3
Top player: David Wright (.438, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 2 2B in four games)

Wright earned his “Captain America” nickname in 2013, so much so that his teammates hung a superhero cape in the dugout after he left the tournament early with an oblique injury.

After recording his first signature moment at the WBC four years prior with a walk-off single to beat Puerto Rico, Wright went on a torrid four-game stretch at the 2013 WBC, with his go-ahead grand slam against Italy serving as the highlight.

That grand slam  gave Team USA its first lead of the tournament, as it opened pool play with a 5-2 loss to Mexico. While the Americans made it to the second round, they were eliminated by virtue of a 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico after their late rally fizzled out.

2009 (eliminated in semifinals)
Final record: 4-4
Top player: Jimmy Rollins (.417, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 2B, 2 3B, 4 SB in eight games)

Five months after Rollins won the 2008 World Series with the Phillies, he showed out on the national stage, providing electric moment after electric moment in the 2009 WBC.

Along with being tied for the tournament lead with four stolen bases, Rollins recorded two triples and a home run in the tournament, and was the only member of Team USA to make the All-World Baseball Classic Team. Additionally, 2023 Team USA manager Mark DeRosa led the team with nine RBI.

While this tournament was an improvement over Team USA's 2006 outcome, it featured one of the worst single-game performances in American baseball history, as the team opened the second round with an 11-1 mercy rule loss to Puerto Rico. After defeating the Netherlands, Team USA once again faced Puerto Rico in an elimination game, with the Americans staging a ninth-inning comeback that ended with Wright’s incredible walk-off single. Team USA would go on to lose to Japan 9-4 in the semifinal round.

2006 (eliminated in second round)
Final record: 3-3
Top player: Ken Griffey Jr. (.524, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 2B in six games)

While Griffey was on the back end of his career at the time of the 2006 WBC, he still found a way to make his presence known, as he mashed three home runs and finished tied for the tournament lead with 10 RBI.

Griffey’s best game came in the opening round when he mashed two three-run home runs against South Africa. Derek Jeter batted .450 with one RBI over the series to join Griffey -- who returned to Team USA as the hitting coach in 2023 -- on the All-Tournament team.

Team USA’s first foray into the WBC ended up being a disappointment, however, as the team finished in eighth place after second-round losses to South Korea and Mexico. Griffey's two-homer game ended up being the tournament highlight, as the 17-0 win over South Africa still stands as Team USA’s largest margin of victory in WBC play.