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How will South Korea fare in the 2023 World Baseball Classic?

South Korea is known to have taken a liking to baseball which has led to them producing some fantastic players. They have played in Major League Baseball in North America and they have homegrown talents that help them in international competitions. 

The 2023 World Baseball Classic is coming up and there is considerable hype behind this Korean team. There are only a few countries that can match the passion and enthusiasm that comes from South Korea when baseball is brought up. 

Take a good look at South Korea and find out why they are considered a strong team in the Sportsbet betting markets heading into a top event like WBC 2023.

South Korea’s history in baseball 

During the time of the Korean Empire in the early 1900s, American missionaries introduced baseball to the nation. Gradually, the sport gained traction, especially with the burgeoning relationship between South Korea and the United States. Baseball became one of the most popular sports in the country and it has continued to inspire the youth to follow sports. 

Their own professional competition, Korean Baseball Organization League, runs from March to October every year. South Korea also has produced some big names in the sport starting with Chan Ho Park playing as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 1994. 

Success at the Olympics

South Korea has been a regular participant in the Summer Olympics for baseball and they have a gold medal under their belt with their win in 2008 beating Cuba in the final match. They did not qualify for both the 1992 and 2004 events but they have been consistently one of the best teams with their worst finish coming in 1996 when they placed 8th.

In the most recent iteration in 2021, they lost in the bronze medal game, ending up at 4th. This means that they have continued to play well but not well enough to get a place in the WBC podium.

Previous performances at the World Baseball Classic

In the first four iterations of the World Baseball Classic, South Korea can place highly but they can also be bounced out earlier. In 2006, they finished with the bronze medal just below the two finalists, Japan and Cuba. Three years later in 2009, they finished 2nd after losing to Japan again, netting them the silver medal. 

During the 2013 and 2017 iterations of the WBC, South Korea struggled as they finished 9th and 10th respectively. That is not what people expected from such a strong baseball country but they are looking to bounce back in the upcoming 2023 edition of the WBC. 

What is the format of the 2023 World Baseball Classic?

With 20 teams in this year’s WBC, the 16 participants from the 2017 event have received automatic berths. This means that 4 other teams had to go through the qualifying round by beating the other countries that did not make it too. 

For the WBC event itself, there will be a round-robin group stage consisting of 4 groups with 5 teams each. The top 2 teams from the groups will make it to the bracket semifinals which will end in a gold medal game to decide the winner. 

South Korea’s schedule

South Korea has a stacked schedule as they will be playing in Group B. This will include matches against Japan, Australia, China, and the Czech Republic. The event starts on March 8 with South Korea having a game. These are the matches scheduled in South Korea’s slate. 

  • March 8, 2023: South Korea vs Australia
  • March 10, 2023: South Korea vs Japan
  • March 11, 2023: South Korea vs Czech Republic
  • March 13, 2023: South Korea vs China

The South Korea squad for the 2023 World Baseball Classic

South Korea is well-known for developing their baseball players to the best of their abilities. The 2023 World Baseball Classic is a golden opportunity for the South Korean squad as they have a stacked team and they are motivated to bounce back from the 2017 run where they have a dismal campaign. 

The 30-man squad

This South Korean team boasts fantastic talents that come from both Major League Baseball and the KBO League. These are the 30 players that will be part of the squad at the World Baseball Classic. 

  1. Go Woo-suk
  2. Jung Woo-Young 
  3. Ko Young-Pyo 
  4. So Hyeong-Jun 
  5. Lee Yong-Chan 
  6. Won Tae-in 
  7. Kim Won-Jung 
  8. Park Se-Woong 
  9. Gwak Been 
  10. Jeong Cheol-Won 
  11. Kim Kwang-Hyun 
  12. Kim Yun-Sik 
  13. Yang Hyeon-Jong 
  14. Lee Eui-Lee 
  15. Koo Chang-Mo 
  16. Lee Ji-Young 
  17. Yang Eui-ji 
  18. Choi Jeong 
  19. Kim Hye-Seong 
  20. Oh Ji-Hwan 
  21. Park Byung-Ho 
  22. Kang Baek-Ho 
  23. Kim Ha-Seong 
  24. Tommy Edman
  25. Choi Ji-Hoon 
  26. Lee Jung-Hoo 
  27. Kim Hyun-Soo 
  28. Park Hae-Min 
  29. Na Sung-Bum 
  30. Park Kun-Woo 

Lee Kang-chul is at the helm

Taking over from the legendary Sun Dong-yol, Lee Kang-chul has some big shoes to fill. It will be interesting to see how Lee will adapt to the role because he was a well-known pitcher in the past. Now, he will focus on that department, considering that the team has 15 pitchers. It will be a tough matchup for any other team because Lee’s input and tactics will focus on disorienting the opponent. 

Is South Korea a contender for the WBC 2023 title? 

According to many bookmakers, South Korea is not the top favourite to win the WBC title. Three teams are undisputed as the favourites and those are the United States, the Dominican Republic, and Japan. All of those nations are well-known for their passion for baseball and South Korea wants to be on the same level. 

Who are the star players for South Korea at this event?

Most of the discussion around the South Korean side has centred on three players: Ha-Seong Kim, Tommy Edman, and team captain Hyun-Soo Kim. They are all talented and they have the influence to motivate the rest of the team to perform. 

Ha-Seong Kim

Once a regular for Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO League, Kim managed to break out and sign with the San Diego Padres where he still plays today. He was always a respected shortstop in South Korea which got him noticed overseas. That has been a good change for him because he has become a regular for the Padres. 

Kim is one of the most reliable players for San Diego and that reliability extends even to his national team. At only 27 years of age, Kim is in the prime of his career and because of that, he wants to showcase that kind of talent on the big stage of WBC.

Tommy Edman

Some people might be confused that a non-Korean is playing for the national team but he is half-Korean because of his mother. Despite growing up in the US, Edman wanted to make sure that he is in touch with his South Korean heritage which led him to play for the national team. 

Edman plays as a second baseman or even a shortstop at times. He is a Gold Glove Award winner back in 2021 and he has been a constant fixture in the St. Louis Cardinals squad since 2019. Similar to Kim, Edman is in the prime of his career at only 27 years of age. He has the speed to beat everyone to the ball on defence but he also has solid power in his swing. 

Hyun-soo Kim

The 35-year-old Kim has been the standard-bearer for Korean baseball for a long time. He made his KBO debut back in 2006 and he even had a two-year stint in the MLB with the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies. He is a reliable left fielder who works hard to communicate and reach the ball when needed. 

Kim will be the vocal leader for this team as the team captain but he will still be relied upon to produce in a tough event. It will be a fun time for him at 35 years of age but he does not feel old one bit. 

How will Ji-Man Choi’s absence affect the team?

Despite being one of the best Korean players, Ji-Man Choi will not be in the South Korean WBC squad. This came as a surprise to most people because they saw him as the focal point of their team. He is a designated hitter and a first baseman which meant that he was vital to the team due to how important his roles are to any squad.

Choi is a Pittsburgh Pirates player but he was not allowed to play for the South Korean national team in the WBC. This has caused a rift between the club and the player because he is passionate about his country and he wants to play for the flag. 

This significantly affects the initial plans because Choi was supposed to be a star player but now, he will be forced to watch while his teammates battle without him. However, they will do it for him and play their hearts out.  

South Korea can do well at the World Baseball Classic

There are 20 teams at the World Baseball Classic but people have to take note of South Korea. This is a loaded squad that is motivated to bring their country back to the top of the baseball world. It will be a tough road ahead but they are willing to work hard for their team. 

You can enjoy watching this South Korean side too, especially if you are making Sportsbet Bitcoin bets.