For the primary time since 2008, baseball is again within the Olympic Video games. And with its return, Staff USA will look to win its first gold medal within the sport because the 2000 Video games in Sydney.
The U.S. baseball crew certified for the 2020 Olympics in one among its final alternatives to take action, changing into the fifth crew to punch a ticket to Tokyo by winning the Baseball Americas Qualifier in early June.
It was a very long time coming for a squad that first tried to qualify in November 2019, earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic postponed their second probability to punch their ticket — and the Video games as an entire.
Now that they’ve lastly made it to Tokyo, the U.S. must beat out Japan, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Korea and Israel in an effort to reclaim the gold medal. Right here’s a take a look at who the U.S. should be careful for en path to any medal spherical, in addition to the gamers that might assist them to their fourth baseball medal in historical past.
2020 Olympics Baseball Format
Group Stage: July 28-July 31
Knockout Stage: Aug. 1-Aug. 4
Semifinals: Aug. 4-Aug. 5
Medal Video games: Aug. 7
Within the first stage, groups will play each crew of their group as soon as. Based mostly on these standings, groups will start play within the double-elimination knockout stage, which is able to merge the 2 teams.
The U.S. is in Group B alongside Korea and Israel. Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic make up Group A.
Staff USA Baseball Schedule
July 30, 6 a.m. ET: USA at Israel
July 31, 6 a.m. ET: Korea at USA
The schedule for the knockout stage might be decided after group play concludes.
Gamers To Watch
There are not any energetic Main League Baseball gamers on any Olympic rosters after a call was made by the league and the MLB Gamers Union to maintain any gamers on the 40-man roster off of their nationwide groups.
That rule could also be acquainted to Boston followers, since prime Purple Sox prospect Jarren Duran was left off of the Olympic roster in case the MLB crew needed to carry him to the bigs — which it did.
Whereas Duran ended up having a dedication to his main league membership, the Purple Sox have two representatives in Tokyo — Triston Casas and Jack López.
Casas, the top-ranked prospect within the Purple Sox system and the No. 30 overall prospect in MLB’s rankings, hit .271 with 30 RBIs and 6 residence runs by way of 46 video games for Double-A Portland this season. And extra lately, the primary baseman launched a two-run homer in Staff USA’s closing exhibition recreation earlier than Tokyo.
López, who has performed within the minors since 2012, has spent many of the 2021 season with Triple-A Worcester, the place he’s hitting .288 with 22 RBIs and eight doubles. He’s becoming a member of the contingent as a utility man.
Due to the rule that prohibits energetic MLB gamers from becoming a member of the roster, the group is usually minor league gamers. However there are some former MLB gamers on the crew, too. Amongst them is 11-year MLB veteran Todd Frazier, who was a two-time All-Star. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 2021 season however hit free company in Could.
For Purple Sox followers, one other title is perhaps acquainted — Tyler Austin. The previous New York Yankee, who made a reputation for himself in his 2018 brawl with Joe Kelly, has pitched for Yokohama in Japan for the previous two seasons.
A pair of former Red Sox players are headed to Tokyo, however not for Staff USA. Former Boston catcher Ryan Lavarnway joins 2018 World Sequence champion Ian Kinsler on Staff Israel.
And there’s a slew of former All-Stars representing the Dominican Republic — Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera — and Masahiro Tanaka is on the roster for Japan.
Staff USA Baseball Gold Medal Odds
Japan is the favorite to win the gold medal on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with +160 odds (wager $100 to win $160) by way of FanDuel.
Staff USA is true behind, with +300 odds to take residence the title. Korea is available in third at +380.
There aren’t actually any surprises within the odds. The latest World Baseball Softball Confederation rankings have Japan because the crew to beat, ranked far-and-away the highest crew on the planet. It’s a putting separation, contemplating the fourth-ranked crew, the U.S., is simply 476 factors behind second-place Taipei. Korea is ranked third.
It’s exhausting to look previous Japan, which has dominated worldwide baseball lately. And whereas the U.S. roster gained’t embody anybody who’s actively concerned in MLB, the Japanese roster pulled from the highest expertise in its personal uber-competitive skilled league — which has lengthy produced a few of MLB’s largest stars.
The host nation might be Staff USA’s largest problem in claiming the gold medal for the primary time in 21 years.
Searching for a longshot? Staff Israel, which certified for the match on a run-differential tiebreaker, pulls in at +3400.