DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
With their first game happening tonight at 6:00 PM EST, Team Canada hopes to over achieve their relatively meager expectations, and achieve success in the World Baseball Classic by making it to past the first round for the first time in their history. Even though many of Canada’s better players opted out of participating in the WBC, the club is still hopeful that they can have a successful performance over the course of the tournament. Despite this enthusiasm, few are expecting Canada to make it past the round robin stage this year, as the fact remains that two of the best teams in the tournament are in the same group as Canada. Because of this, Canada’s odds of advancing are slim, but that isn’t stopping me from making bold predictions.
A Major Upset
In order to advance to the second round, Canada would have to defeat either the Dominican Republic or the USA, and despite the seemingly long odds, I believe that Canada has a chance of defeating one of these teams. For this to happen, Canada needs a standout performance from one of its starting pitchers, either Ryan Dempster, who is pitching in game 1 against the Dominican Republic, or whomever Canada decides to use in the third game against the United States. Even though the odds are slim, I believe that Team Canada has the potential to upset the favorites in at least one of these games. The fact remains that a sizable amount of a baseball game is decided by luck, and if Canada turns in a good performance with a little bit of luck, they may be able to walk away from one of these games victorious.
Éric Gangé Pitches his Way to a Sizable Contract
Having last played major league baseball in 2008, baseball was almost universally surprised when Team Canada announced that Éric Gangé would be on the roster for Team Canada. With rumors of a comeback, the 41 year old former Cy Young winner hopes his WBC performance can be a stepping stone for a return to major league baseball. In a pre-tournament game against the Blue Jays, Gangé’s velocity was similar to that of when he last played in the big leagues and his overall performance was solid. If he plays at a reasonably high level at the WBC, he could be in line for a minor league deal with some achievable performance incentives, a strong probability for someone who last pitched in the majors 9 seasons ago.
Dalton Pompey Dominates
In a similar fashion to Michael Saunders in the last WBC, Dalton Pompey will have a breakthrough performance and play a critical role in the success of Team Canada. In comparing Saunders to Pompey, there are a lot of similarities. Saunders was an outfielder on the fringes of becoming a useful player at the big league level; a situation which is quite similar to that of Dalton Pompey today. In addition to this, Pompey is expected to be one of Canada’s offensive and defensive leaders on the field, a reasonable expectation considering his strong talent and high potential. Of all my prodictions, this one is the most likely, as a strong performance from Pompey could the Jays’ front office into pushing him into a full time role in 2017.
An Unexpected Contribution
Even though Canada’s best players like Freedie Freeman, Dalton Pompey, and Ryan Dempster are going to have to play strong in order for Canada to be successful, relatively unknown players are also going to have to perform well. Perhaps we should keep our eyes on Jonathan Malo or Rene Tosoni, a pair of players from independent leagues who are going to have to over perform if this team is going to exceed expectations. On the pitching side, players like Blue Jays farmhand Shane Dawson or Houston Astros reliever Kevin Chapman (not entirely sure how he’s Canadian) will need to be useful for this team to be successful. Whether through major leaguers, minor leaguers, or independent leaguers, Canada will need everyone performing at their best if they want to be successful.
There you have it. These are my bold predictions for Team Canada at the 2017 WBC. If the club wants to be successful, all of these expectations must come true and a strong contributes must remain useful. Even if Canada fails to advance to the second round, we can chalk up their failure to both the lack of their most talented players on the roster, and considerably more difficult group. If Canada is lucky enough to achieve a few of these, you can expect another piece like this for the second round.
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