Will anyone break these Classic records?
Throughout the history of the World Baseball Classic, which goes back to 2006, several interesting records have been set, and many players have posted incredible numbers. And as we look ahead to the fifth edition of the Classic, some of these seem like they will be highly difficult -- if not impossible -- to match.
With this year’s 20-team, adrenaline-fueled event beginning Tuesday night, let’s review some of these impressive records.
7 RBIs in a game (Ken Griffey Jr.)
Playing for Team USA in the first World Baseball Classic, Griffey produced seven RBIs against South Africa on March 10, 2006. No batter has been able to match The Kid since then. Adrián González has come the closest, posting a six-RBI game in 2009. Over 2,671 MLB games in his Hall of Famer career, Griffey reached seven or more RBIs only once, driving home eight for the Reds on July 8, 2000. But he did it once in just six Classic appearances.
2 MVP Awards (Daisuke Matsuzaka)
There have been four WBC tournaments, and Matsuzaka has taken MVP honors in half of them, winning it for Japan in both 2006 and ‘09. Matsuzaka epitomized dominance at those two events, posting a 1.95 ERA in 27 2/3 innings across six starts. The former Red Sox right-hander won three games each of those years, and his six career wins make him the all-time leader. In fact, no other pitcher has more than three, with Javier Vázquez (Puerto Rico), Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) and Diegomar Markwell (Netherlands) his closest rivals.
It is worth noting that Robinson Canó (Dominican Republic) and Marcus Stroman (Puerto Rico) won the MVP award in 2013 and ‘17, respectively, and both are playing in ‘23 with a shot to tie Matsuzaka.
10 strikeouts in a game (Ubaldo Jiménez)
While a 10-strikeout game is hardly rare in the Major Leagues, the Classic is a different story. In these tournaments, starters cannot work deep into games due to limitations on their workloads. Jiménez, however, managed to pull off the feat by racking up 10 K’s in only four innings against the Netherlands on March 10, 2009. Japan’s Kenta Maeda got close, striking out nine in a game in the 2013 WBC, but Jiménez remains the only pitcher to reach double digits.
4-hit games at multiple Classics (Justin Morneau)
Even playing in two World Baseball Classics is a significant challenge. So notching a four-hit game in both of those is even more impressive. But that’s exactly what Morneau did while competing for Canada in 2009 and ‘13. Morneau went 4-for-5 with two doubles against Italy on March 9, 2009, and then posted the same line in a blowout win over Mexico exactly four years later.
7 saves in a Classic (Fernando Rodney)
To be clear, this is not a career record. Rodney nailed down seven saves in seven chances during the 2013 Classic, when he made eight appearances and allowed only one hit in 7 1/3 innings. His performance was one of the keys to the Dominican Republic going undefeated in eight tournament games on its way to a championship.
Youngest to homer in a Classic (Jonathan Schoop)
It's difficult to hit home runs in a World Baseball Classic, but even more so to do it at 21 years old. First, you need to make the national team of your country, and then you have to deliver on the international stage. In 2013, before Schoop made his MLB debut for the Orioles in September, he homered for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in March, when he was 21 years and 141 days old. He surpassed Japan’s Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was 21 years and 219 days old when he homered in the 2006 WBC. A small group of players will have the chance to beat Schoop’s record in the 2023 Classic, including MLB Pipeline’s No. 49 prospect, Harry Ford of the Mariners, who recently turned 20 and is catching for Great Britain.
Manager in 5 different Classics (Ernie Whitt)
Whitt will set this mark in 2023 when he guides Canada -- just as he did in each of the first four Classics. How is that even possible to do? You need to have health, results and consistency, among other things. In this role, Whitt has managed players such as Jason Bay ('06), Morneau ('06, ‘09, ‘13, ‘17), Matt Stairs ('09), Joey Votto ('09, ‘13), Russell Martin ('09), Freddie Freeman ('17, ‘23) and Ryan Dempster ('17).
3 pairs of siblings as teammates (Kingdom of the Netherlands)
Officially, this record has not been set yet, but in 2023, the Kingdom of the Netherlands team is set to feature three pairs of brothers. That hasn’t happened since, well, ever. The brothers are: Jurickson and Juremi Profar, Jonathan and Sharlon Schoop, and Josh and Richie Palacios. All six are position players, so will we see all of them in the same lineup? We will know very soon.
4 extra-base hits in a game (Yung-Chi Chen)
This is one of the oldest records in the World Baseball Classic. Chen, of Chinese Taipei, registered four extra-base hits in a first-round game against China on March 4, 2006, with three doubles and a home run. Eight other players have achieved three extra-base hits in a game, most recently Tetsuto Yamada of Japan (March 14, 2017), but no one has matched Chen.