Who's on the all-time World Baseball Classic team?

March 22nd, 2023

At the end of each World Baseball Classic, tournament organizers select a player from each position for the all-Classic team. It's an incredible honor, signifying each player's ability to excel among the biggest collection of baseball talent anywhere on the planet.

MLB.com has taken the honor one step further. With the 2023 Classic in the books, we've looked back to put together the ultimate team: An all-time all-World Baseball Classic squad based on past performance in the tournament.

Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez, Puerto Rico
12 G, .366 BA (15-for-41), 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 6 BB, 9 R

Puerto Rico has a rich history in the catcher department at the World Baseball Classic, with Rodriguez (2009) and Yadier Molina (2013, 2017) combining for three All-WBC backstop nods. Pudge was particularly potent in the 2009 Classic, pacing his club with a .500 average, a .950 slugging percentage and five extra-base hits.

First base: Miguel Cabrera, Venezuela
25 G, .237 BA (22-for-93), 6 HR, 15 RBIs, 11 BB, 13 R

The only player to play in each of the first five World Baseball Classics, Cabrera was already a budding 23-year-old star with the Marlins when he debuted in the 2006 Classic, and all he did in his first two WBC games was go 4-for-7 with two home runs. Miggy went on to power Venezuela to a bronze medal in 2009, and his six homers are tied for second most in tournament history.

Second base: Robinson Canó, Dominican Republic
19 G, .373 BA (25-for-67), 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 11 BB, 13 R

Canó helped the Dominicans ditch the bitter memories of their first-round exit in 2009 by helping his nation win the 2013 Classic. Canó paced his team in nearly every offensive category and became the first position player to win the Classic Most Valuable Player Award.

Shortstop: , United States
6 G, .391 BA (9-for-23), 5 HR, 11 RBIs, 2 BB, 6 R

Although he’s only appeared in one Classic, Turner has already achieved legendary status at the WBC after tying the single-tournament record with five homers for Team USA in 2023 (matching Seung Yuop Lee’s total for Korea in 2006). Turner hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning against Venezuela in the quarterfinals, went deep twice in Team USA’s blowout win over Cuba in the semifinals and hit another dinger in the championship game against Japan.

Third base: , Mexico
15 G, .317 BA (20-for-63), 4 HR, 17 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 R

Third base may have been the most competitive of any position on this team, with a host of deserving candidates, including Adrián Beltré of the Dominican Republic, Carlos Correa of Puerto Rico, Yuli Gurriel of Cuba and David Wright of the United States. Cantu's overall numbers are a bit superior, though, and his 2009 performance was particularly memorable: He batted .360, clubbed two homers and five doubles and drove in six runs to help Mexico advance to the second round.

Left fielder: Alfredo Despaigne, Cuba
17 G, .370 BA (20-for-54), 7 HR, 16 RBIs, 8 BB, 12 R

Despaigne has hit more homers than anyone in the history of the World Baseball Classic, blasting seven dingers for Cuba across three tournament appearances. In the 2013 and 2017 Classics combined, Despaigne hit .432 (16-for-37) with six homers and 14 RBIs in 12 games. He gets the nod over Japan's Masataka Yoshida, who made his Classic debut in 2023 and set a single-tournament record with 13 RBIs.

Center fielder: Carlos Beltrán, Puerto Rico
28 G, .316 BA (30-for-95), 3 HR, 14 RBIs, 19 BB, 17 R, 4 SB

Beltrán has played in a Classic-record 28 games, and he earned a spot on the All-WBC team in 2017 -- his fourth tournament appearance -- as the designated hitter after going 10-for-23 (.435) with five RBIs in seven games. He was Puerto Rico's starting center fielder in each of his first two WBC appearances.

Right fielder: , Japan
17 G, .312 BA (24-for-77), 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 14 R, 5 SB

Though Ichiro only appeared in the first two Classics, he still ranks among the tournament's all-time leaders in hits, runs scored and steals. What Japanese fans will remember more, however, is that Ichiro helped lead his country to gold medals in the first two installments of this tournament. That includes one of the biggest moment in the event's history, when he delivered a game-winning two-run single in the 10th inning of the 2009 final. Ichiro's role in helping Japan win back-to-back WBC titles gives him a slight edge for this spot over Netherlands right fielder Wladimir Balentien, who has gone 27-for-60 (.450) with four homers, 18 RBIs and a 1.239 OPS over 18 WBC games.

Designated hitter: Frederich Cepeda, Cuba
25 G, .381 BA (32-for-84), 6 HR, 23 RBIs, 22 BB, 19 R

Through five tournaments, Cepeda is the all-time WBC leader in hits, RBIs, walks and runs scored, and he's tied for second in homers. The Cuban slugger owns a rather ridiculous .381/.509/.714 career slash line.

Two-way player: , Japan
Hitting: 7 G, .435 BA (10-for-23), 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 10 BB, 9 R, 1 SB
Pitching: 3 G, 1.86 ERA, 2-0, 1 SV, 11 K's in 9 2/3 IP

Ohtani was sensational in his much-anticipated World Baseball Classic debut in 2023, leading Japan to an undefeated record and a championship with a brilliant two-way performance that lived up to expectations in every way. Fittingly, Ohtani sealed Japan's title by striking out Angels teammate Mike Trout to end the championship game against Team USA, and he was named Classic MVP at the end of the tournament.

Starting pitcher: , Japan
6 GS, 6-0, 1.95 ERA, 23 K's in 27 2/3 IP

With respect to 2017 Classic MVP Marcus Stroman and other WBC pitching stars such as Japan's Hisashi Iwakuma, Korea's Jung Bong, Venezuela's Félix Hernández and Puerto Rico's Nelson Figueroa, this spot has to go to Dice-K. A winner of two Classic Most Valuable Player Awards, Matsuzaka cemented his legendary status in Japan by becoming nearly untouchable on the international stage. He went 3-0 in each of Japan's championships, winning the gold medal game against Cuba in 2006 and the semifinal against Team USA in 2009.

Relief pitcher: Fernando Rodney, Dominican Republic
15 G, 8 SV, 0.59 ERA, 19 K's in 15 1/3 IP

Rodney was dominant in WBC play, allowing just one run on five hits in 15 career appearances. The right-hander made the All-WBC team in 2013 after going 7-for-7 in save chances and yielding one hit over 7 1/3 scoreless innings as the Dominican Republic won the gold medal.