At long last, the world is ready for the World Baseball Classic.
Following a two-year, pandemic-related hiatus, the Classic returns in 2023 with its largest field and arguably its greatest assemblage of talent yet. Following two qualifying events last September, the Classic is set to take place across the globe.
Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the World Baseball Classic and how it operates.
What is the World Baseball Classic?
Think of it as baseball’s answer to the World Cup, showcasing the top baseball talent in the world.
It is an international baseball tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) in partnership with MLB. It is the only baseball tournament sanctioned by the WBSC that grants the winner the title of “World Champion.”
How can I watch and listen to the game?
Games will be available live on FOX, FS1, FS2, Tubi and FOX Deportes. Information on international broadcasts can be found here. Highlights, recaps, condensed games and other tournament coverage is available on MLB.com, WorldBaseballClassic.com, MLB Network and in the MLB App. Live audio coverage of all games will be carried on SiriusXM, TuneIn, MLB.com and in the MLB App.
Who is the defending World Baseball Classic champion?
Team USA won the tournament for the first time in 2017.
How many Classic tournaments have there been?
This will be the fifth installment. The event began in 2006, with Japan victorious. It was held again in 2009 (Japan), 2013 (Dominican Republic) and 2017.
How many teams participate?
In 2023, the total is 20, an increase from 16. Participating countries/territories are listed below.
What are the teams and how are they ranked?
For the first round, teams are assigned and ranked in each pool based on the following criteria:
- First, the team representing each pool’s host country/territory.
- Second, the team(s) that participated in the final four of the 2017 Classic will next be assigned as the top teams for each pool.
- Finally, the remaining teams will be assigned based on Dec. 31, 2021, WBSC rankings in order to guarantee competitive balance.
With that in mind, the pool list and rankings are as follows:
Pool A – Taichung, Taiwan
• Chinese Taipei
Pool B – Tokyo, Japan
• Czech Republic
Pool C – Phoenix, AZ, USA
• United States of America
• Great Britain
Pool D – Miami, Fla., USA
• Puerto Rico
• Dominican Republic
Can I watch the games in person?
Absolutely. Refer to the list of host cities above for details, and tickets can be purchased here.
What is the tournament format?
Pool play is a round-robin, double-elimination tournament. From there, the top two teams in each pool advance to, essentially, an eight-team, single-elimination bracket.
What is the schedule?
Complete schedule information can be found here, and each pool’s slate will unfold as such:
- Pool A: March 8-12
- Pool B: March 9-13
- Pool C: March 11-15
- Pool D: March 11-15
- Quarterfinals No. 1: March 15-16 in Tokyo (winners and runners-up from Pools A and B)
- Quarterfinals No. 2: March 17-18 in Miami (winners and runners-up from Pools C and D)
- Semifinals: March 19-20 in Miami
- Championship game: March 21 in Miami
Which players will be participating in this year's Classic?
The 2023 Classic will feature many of the world's best baseball players, including dozens of current and former Major Leaguers such as Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Click here for more information on rosters.
What were the roster requirements?
Each team’s final, 30-man roster has to include at least 14 pitchers and at least two catchers.
What is the designated pitcher pool?
Each team may identify a designated pool of 10 pitchers who are eligible to participate in one or more consecutive rounds. The list was submitted at the time the provisional and final rosters were due. For a team to utilize the designated pitcher pool, its final roster had to include one or two pitchers from the pool. If no pitcher is listed from the pool on its submitted roster, the team is prohibited from using the designated pitcher pool for the remainder of the tournament.
Once the pool pitcher is named on a tournament roster and subsequently removed prior to the next round, the pitcher is no longer eligible to participate. After each round of the tournament, any pitcher from an advancing team’s designated pitcher pool may be replaced on the final roster with another pitcher from that team’s designated pitcher pool, provided that no member of the designated pitcher pool may be added back to his federation’s final roster once he has been replaced by another member of the designated pitcher pool.
How was player eligibility for a given team determined?
A player was eligible if:
• The player previously appeared on a team’s final roster at the start of either a World Baseball Classic qualifier or tournament round; or
• The player is a citizen of the team’s country or territory, as evidenced by a valid passport the player holds as of three months prior to the start of the tournament; or
• The player is currently a permanent legal resident of the team’s country or territory; or
• The player was born in the team’s country or territory, as evidenced by a birth certificate or its equivalent; or
• The player has at least one parent who is (or, if deceased, was), a citizen of the team’s country or territory; or
• The player has at least one parent who was born in the team’s country or territory; or
• The player presents documentary evidence that he would be granted citizenship or a passport in due course under the laws of the team’s country or territory, if he were to apply for such citizenship or passport.
Was there a cap on how many players could appear from a single MLB club?
Yes. The maximum was 15 players from any given organization, or 10 from an active Major League roster or injured list as of Aug. 31, 2022.
How are injury replacements handled?
A team may replace an injured (as confirmed by World Baseball Classic Inc.) player on its roster with another player who had appeared on that team’s available player list. A pitcher may only be replaced by a pitcher and a catcher may only be replaced by a catcher. The replaced player is then ineligible to return to the tournament.
If a player other than a catcher is injured in the first round of the tournament, no replacement for such player may play until the beginning of the next round. If a player is injured in the semifinals, no replacement will be permitted.
What are the rules for the tournament?
The World Baseball Classic will follow the 2022 Official Baseball Rules, with the following stipulations:
• The automatic runner on second base will be used in extra innings.
• The three-batter minimum for pitchers will be enforced.
• There will NOT be a limit on mound visits.
• The designated hitter will be used for all games.
• Replay review will be utilized and will follow MLB’s replay rules
• The new MLB rules for 2023 -- the pitch timer, bigger bases and restrictions on infield shifts -- will NOT be used.
• There are limits on pitcher use.
What are the pitcher use limits?
In order to reduce the risk of injury in this important period prior to the start of the MLB season, a pitcher must:
• Not pitch until a minimum of four days have passed since he last pitched, if he threw 50 or more pitches when he last pitched;
• Not pitch until a minimum of one day has passed since he last pitched, if he threw 30 or more pitches when he last pitched;
• Not pitch until a minimum of one day has passed since any second consecutive day on which the pitcher pitched;
• Throw no more than 65 pitches per game in the first round, 80 pitches per game in the quarterfinal round and 95 pitches per game in the championship round of the tournament, unless the pitcher needs more to complete a batter’s plate appearance.
The aggregate number of pitches thrown in two successive games over two days is not used to determine pitcher rest restrictions. If a pitcher reaches the maximum limit of pitches in a game during a batter’s plate appearance, the pitcher may continue in the game until such plate appearance or the inning ends, whichever comes first.
Is there a run rule?
Yes. In the first round, victory is awarded if a team is ahead by 10 or more runs after any complete inning, beginning with the completion of the seventh inning. Or if a team is ahead by 15 or more runs after any complete inning, beginning with the fifth inning.
How are home/visitor designations determined?
They are based on the pool rankings. In each pool, Team No. 1 will receive three home games and one away game, Team No. 2 will receive two home games and two away games, Team No. 3 will receive two home games and two away games, Team No. 4 will receive two home games and two away games and Team No. 5 will receive one home game and three away games.
In each quarterfinal game, the home team designation will be given to each of the Round 1 pool winners. Each of the Round 1 pool runner-up teams will be designated as the visiting team.
In each championship round game, which includes the semifinals and the final game, the teams with the higher winning percentage of games in the tournament shall be the home team. If the teams competing in the championship game have identical winning percentages in the tournament, then WBCI will conduct a coin flip to determine the home team.