- Sportsbooks list Japan as the +250 favorites to win the 2019 WBSC Premier12 international baseball championship
- The USA (+300) are the second betting choice
- This tournament is serving as first qualifier for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo
Baseball will make its triumphant return to the Olympics at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. The 2019 WBSC Premier12 international baseball championship is the first step countries must take in order to get there.
The tournament features the top-12 ranked baseball countries in the world. It runs from Nov. 2-17, and is serving as a qualifying event for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The top two teams from Asia/Oceania and the Americas at the end of the Super Round of the tournament will earn spots in the six-team 2020 Olympic baseball tournament. Host country Japan and Europe/Africa qualifying champion Israel have already earned Olympic places.
Japan is listed as the +250 favorite to win the tournament, nonetheless. The USA, second in the inaugural WBSC Premier12 in 2015, are the second-favorites at +300.
2019 WBSC Premier12 Odds
Odds taken on October 31st.
South Korea, winners of the 2015 tournament, are third in this betting market at odds of +450.
Japan On Top
Ranked #1 in the world since 2017, Japan is the most experienced team in the tournament. The entire roster of the Japanese team is comprised from the cream of the crop of the Nippon Baseball League. That’s Japan’s major league.
Outfielder Seiya Suzuki of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp led the Nippon Central League in batting average (.335), on-base percentage (.453) and runs (112). Shortstop Hayato Sakamoto of the Yomiuri Giants posted a league-leading .533) slugging percentage. Second baseman Tetsuto Yamada of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows stole a league-high 33 bases.
From the Pacific League, Saitama Seibu Lions outfielder Shogo Akiyama was the league leaders in hits (179) and runs (112). Oufielder Kensuke Kondo of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters posted the best on-base percentage (.422).
On the mound, Japan is led by Kodai Senga of the Japan Series champion Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. He paced the Pacific League in strikeouts (227) and innings pitched (180.1). In 2017, Senga was named to the All-Star Team at the World Baseball Classic.
Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto posted a Pacific League-leading 1.95 ERA. Teammate Taisuke Yamaoka posted a league-high .765 winning percentage.
From the Central League, Yomiuri right-hander Shun Yamaguchi was #1 in wins (15), winning percentage (.765) and strikeouts (188). Chunichi Dragons Yudi Ono led in ERA (2.58) and innings pitched (177.2). Yokohama DeNa BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki posted a league-best 30 saves.
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Takayuki Kishi was MVP of the 2008 Japan Series.
USA Brings Mixed Bunch
The United States arrives at the WBSC Premier12 with a mixed bag of minor leaguers and former big leaguers who are now free agents.
Highlighting the up-and-coming stars is outfielder Jo Adell, a Los Angeles Angels farmhand rated the as the #2 major-league prospect by Baseball Prospectus. Across three teams in A, AA and AAA ball in 2019, Adell slashed .289/.359/.475.
Veteran pitcher Brandon Dickson, 34, is a former St. Louis Cardinal who currently pitches with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. Southpaw Brian Flynn threw in the show for the Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals. Brooks Pounders took the hill in the big leagues for the Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies, and New York Mets. Clayton Richards threw for the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2019 MLB season.
Best Of The Rest
South Korea was the last country to win an Olympic gold medal in baseball. They’ll suit up the star of that team in ex-MLB outfielder Hyun-soo Kim. He was MVP of the first WBSC Premier12 tournament in 2015.
Canada, managed by Ernie Whitt, stunned Japan 6-5 in a pre-tournament game. Former AL MVP and NL batting champion Justin Morneau leads a deep roster. Other ex-big leaguers include Michael Saunders, Philippe Aumont, Adam Loewen and Dalton Pompey.
Two-time MLB All-Star Ervin Santana is with the Dominican Republic. He recorded 149 wins and 1,926 strikeouts in a 15-year big-league career. The Dominican team was surprisingly winless in the 2015 tournament.
Another MLB All-Star, Jair Jurrjens, takes the mound for the Netherlands. The Dutch return 14 players from their 2015 roster, the most of any competing country.
Australia is managed by former big-league catcher David Nilsson.
Pick: Japan (+250).