Preview of the 2023 Japan national WBC team

It’s officially baseball season, and one of the sport's most prominent and anticipated tournaments is about to take place. As the best baseball players around the world gather for the competition of the year, the World Baseball Classic (WBC) will once again excite fans to watch glorious games that define the best parts about the sport. 

Similar to football’s FIFA World Cup, the tournament will showcase an intercontinental bracket-style format that will have the best nations vying for the championship. Among these amazing nations is Japan which is regarded as one of the best national teams that ever graced the WBC. 

Looming questions are still lingering amidst the close opening of this prestigious tournament. Will Japan win the WBC? What is the prospective first lineup who will compete against other best national teams in the competition? 

Here is a preview of Japan’s chances of winning the WBC and who the potential players will be when the tournament starts very soon: 

Japan 2023 starting lineup

The 2023 prospective lineup is full of Major League Baseball superstars and some from the Nippon Professional Baseball league which means Japan has a ton of great players. With this amazing lineup in mind, it’s going to be difficult competing against Japan in 2023. 

Yuhei Nakamura  

Yuhei Nakamura is a National Professional Baseball (NPB) most valuable player (MVP) candidate who happens to have an all-star calibre talent when it comes to the catcher position. His resilience, speed, and accuracy on the defensive end is impeccable. 

He plays for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows which is one of the most successful teams in the NPB because of his contributions to the team alongside some good coaching. There’s no doubt that Yuhei is Japan’s best catcher who can cancel out amazing strikes from the opposing team. 

Hotaka Yamakawa

Saitama Seibu Lions’ infielder, Hotaka Yamakawa, is an incredible talent who has field vision and leadership Japan desperately needs for the team. His skill and baseball IQ will surpass that of the own roster’s and the opposing teams’ counterpart infielder which is a huge plus for Japan.  

Aside from Hotaka’s amazing precision, he is also a talented power batter who can help score points within crucial innings during the tournament. He’s an all-rounder player who is extremely versatile on the field. 

Sosuke Genda 

Another infielder who is just as good as Hotaka, Sosuke Genda, has about the same accuracy. What makes him more special is his faster reaction time when it comes to preventing runs from the opposing team. 

As Hotaka Yamakawa’s partner in crime on the defensive end of baseball, it’s going to be difficult to hit accurate shots and score runs when playing against Japan. Alongside Hotaka, Sosuke will shine and make the defence even better than it already is. 

Munetaka Murakami 

Munetaka Murakami is a good infielder, but he is valued for his offensive prowess. He set a record of most third base reached during the 2022 season and will continue this dominance moving forward to the WBC. 

This nifty power hitter will without a doubt make a huge impact on the Japanese national team. Since Japan already has a proven defensive unit, Munetaka can only add to that which is always a good thing for the roster. 


Masataka Yoshida 

Masataka Yoshida is among the top-tier outfielders in Japan’s unit and will contribute to the team’s overall plays as a veteran from the MLB. Playing for the Boston Red Sox will give him a lot of credentials to his name and will be among the most respected players in the team. 

With the Red Sox, this left fielder has proven why he is one of the more capable defenders in the MLB. With his tremendous gift of catching accurate saves, he’ll give way more to the team on the defensive side. He is also a more than capable batter which generates great offence for the team. 

Lars Nootbaar 

Lars Nootbaar is another great outfielder who will contribute so much to the defensive end making it even harder to score against Japan. As a right fielder alongside Masataka, Lars is such a great complimentary piece that can have a few saves during the competition. 

When it comes to the offence, Lars isn’t too shabby either. While he certainly is more known for his defensive capabilities, he still has the skill set to score runs which can give Japan a huge edge during the WBC. 

Seiya Suzuki 

Seiya Suzuki is a Chicago Cubs fan-favourite player who also happens to play for the NPB with Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He is a great reserve for the left fielder position while also known for his offensive skill set to score runs and hit powerful strikes. 

He definitely has one of the more illustrious records like his five-time NPB All Star appearance and six NPB Best Nine Awards. There’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the first few options who will both contribute offensively and defensively for the team. 

Shohei Ohtani

The Los Angeles Angels superstar, Shohei Ohtani, will undoubtedly be the team’s starting pitcher. His career with the Angels so far has been incredible and he is one of the most coveted players in the league right now. 

While there are certainly more impactful pitchers from other nations, Japan still has a potentially great superstar who will make the right plays on the pitch. While defence defines Japan’s identity, teams should still watch out against Shohei’s striking abilities. 

Yu Darvish

Statistically speaking, Yu Darvish is slightly better than Shohei with a 194.2 innings pitched average while Shohei is only at the 166.0 mark. Regardless, the two pitchers have very similar plays and both will play for Japan in the 2023 WBC. 

Yu Darvish is a power pitcher who will shock batters when he throws the ball for a defensive play. Even if the opposing hitter is lucky enough to hit the ball, Yu is incredibly perceptive with his surroundings and will make the perfect pass for a save that will impact their chances of winning the WBC. 

Why Japan is a top contender for the 2023 WBC title

Among other top contenders, Japan is definitely part of the list of the greatest teams coming into the 2023 WBC. But why is Japan considered a high-ranking contender? Below are some of the reasons why you should pay closer attention to this Japanese national team and why they can win the whole tournament: 

Great defence 

There’s no doubt about it that this roster is full of defensive stoppers who will relentlessly prevent opposing teams from scoring a run. Their left, right, and centre fielders are among the best in the whole world and it will speak volumes when they clamp their opponents to very few runs. 

Solid field lineups

As mentioned, their fielders are excellent and teams will have an incredibly hard time scoring amidst the solid defence. However, their fielders are more versatile than what others may think and they can still earn some runs when they hit powerful strikes. Emphasis on offence is also key to why Japan’s roster has a high chance of winning. 

Brilliant coaching 

The man responsible for Shohei Ohtani’s development into a brilliant player, Hideki Kuriyama, will be coaching the Japanese national WBC team. He used to manage the Nippon Ham Fighters from 2012-2021 and is known for his defensive schemes which will turn the team’s overall field plays even better. 

Biggest threats to Japan winning the title

While Japan is an immensely talented team, there are still a few other teams that can scare this roster out of the deeper rounds of the tournament. Victory is never assured in the WBC, and below are some of their toughest competitors coming into the 2023 tournament: 

United States 

Under manager Mark DeRosa's leadership, Team USA boasts a talented roster and coaching staff, putting them at the forefront as the top contender for the trophy. Alongside Mike Trout, superstars such as Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers are part of the roster, further solidifying their status as a formidable team. 

This means that Japan will still have a good competition coming into the WBC tournament. They’ll be facing players who are regarded as the best players in the world from the best baseball league of all time. 

Dominican Republic 

The Dominican Republic has a strong lineup of Major League Baseball players, making them a top contender in the World Baseball Classic. Representing the Dominican Republic will be stars like Juan Soto and Manny Machado of the Padres, and Julio Rodriguez and Luis Castillo of the Mariners.

Alongside the United States, the Dominican Republic national baseball team will pose one of the biggest threats to Japan’s championship aspirations as they have just as many talented players in the roster. Also, Dominican Republic’s offence is at an all-time high judging by their offensive lineups for the 2023 competition. 

The WBC 2023 will undoubtedly have some of the best competitors when the tournament begins. Japan is one of the few countries who are slated to win it all, and it’s up to their defence, offence, and strong will to propel any team that comes in their way to a title. If you are considering delving deeper into sports betting Japan in the WBC, then visit Sportsbet and win huge payouts.