Netherlands - 2017 WBC Review

Overview - The Netherlands made their statement to the baseball world when they won the 2011 Baseball World Cup in Panama, beating Cuba in the finals to win the Gold Medal. Prior to that no European team had ever medaled in the traditional Baseball World Cup. Xander Bogaerts, Didi Gregorius and Jonathan Schoop were three players on that team who were minor leaguers at the time. Rob Cordemans, Diegomar Markwell and Kalian Sams were some of the veterans on that team who are also on the 2017 WBC roster.

It has taken awhile for the Netherlands to establish itself in baseball. They did not qualify for the first Olympics in 1992, even though they were considered one of the better European teams. Spain and Italy went in their stead. These two teams combined for a 2-12 record with Spain upsetting Puerto Rico in a meaningless game with both teams eliminated and Italy defeating Spain.

In 1996 they played and finished 2-5, a respectable showing. They did lose games to the United States and Cuba by scores of 18-1 and 17-2 but they did beat Australia. Rob Cordemans, who is on the roster for the 2017 WBC team was a pitcher for the 1996 Netherlands Olympic team.

In 2000 they improved their record to 3-4, proving then that they could be thorns in the Cubans side by making Cuba one of their three victories. They also lessoned the loss to the United States, losing only 6-2. Robert Eenhorn, who played shortstop briefly for the Yankees was on this team. He was the man responsible for putting together future Netherlands teams and building them up to the power they have become. In addition to Rob Cordemans, the current Netherlands manager Hensley Muelens played for this team and Diegomar Markwell made his roster debut.

In 2004 and 2008 there was a bit of back sliding with the Netherlands dropping to 2-5 in the 2004 Olympics and 1-6 in the 2008 games. In five of their six losses in the 2008 games they were shutout.

In the first World Baseball Classic in 2006 the Netherlands finished 1-2, failing to advance to the second round. Shairon Martis, who is on the current roster made history in these games by pitching the first and only no hitter in WBC history, shutting out Panama 10-0 in a seven inning shortened game. Many of the players on that 2006 team also appear on the 2017 roster.

The Netherlands improved in 2009 when they upset the Dominican Republic twice to advance to the second round. There they lost twice to be eliminated. In the second game, a 9-3 loss to the United States, catcher Kenley Jansen (the now closer for the Dodgers) got into a little pushing and shoving match with the United States team.

The 2013 WBC saw further improvement. The Netherlands skipped past the first round with a three way tie with Taiwan and South Korea for first place. The tie breaker eliminated South Korea and the Netherlands advanced. In the second round the Netherlands upset Cuba twice and was able to advance to the final four. There they lost to the eventual champions Dominican Republic.

As one of the top 12 teams they were eligible to participate in the Premier 12. They advanced past the first round with a 3-2 record. In a single elimination second round game they lost to the eventual silver medalist United States 6-1.

Hensley Muelens has stated that he is playing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic to win. Other than getting to the finals that is the only other way they can improve on last year’s finish.

Current International Ranking - Netherlands is currently ranked ninth. They are in the same pool as third ranked South Korea and fourth ranked Taiwan, two teams they tied for first place with in the 2013 WBC games. Israel, with some players on major league rosters, is an under rated 41st.

Roster

Pitchers - Mike Bolsenbroek (DPP), Robbie Cordemans, Tom de Blok, Lars Huijer, Jair Jurrjens, Diegomar Markwell, Shairon Martis, Jim Ploeger, Tom Stuifbergen, J.C. Sulbaran, Rick Van Den Hurk, Loek Van Mil, Orlando Yntema

Designated Pitchers Pool - Neimerson Xavier Angela, Kevin Heijstek, Kenley Jansen, Kevin Kelly, Ruderly Manuel, Ryan Oduber, Mark Pawelek, Berry Van Driel

Catchers - Dashenko Ricardo, Shawn Zarraga

Infielders - Xander Bogaerts, Yurendell de Caster, Didi Gregorius, Dwayne Kemp, Jurickson Profar, Jonathan Schoop, Sharlon Schoop, Andrelton Simmons, Curt Smith

Outfielders - Wladimir Balentien, Chris Garia (replaced by Stijin Vandemeer), Randolph Oduber, Kalian Sams

Strengths - The infield may be one of the best in this tournament. They just have to figure out who will play where. With a lack of outfielders one of them may move to center. Xander Bogaerts appears set at third. Didi and Andrelton are the two shortstops. Neither of them will move Jonathan Schoop from second. Jurickson Profar was once one of the top prospects in baseball. He will probably be moved to the outfield. The pitching staff is filled with veterans who have played in a number of international tournaments. Robbie Cordemans is the Cuban slayer. At 42 years of age he has been around awhile, but he has one of the best changeups in baseball. Diegomar Markwell is another one of their domestic pitching veterans. They also have ex-major leaguer Rick VandenHurk who they can start. He has also pitched in Japan. Shairon Martis is another option, holding the only no hitter in World Baseball Classic history. If they advance to the second round they can use Kenley Jansen as their closer. In the first round those duties will be held by Loek Van Mil, the seven footer with the mid-90s fastball. At DH Wladimir Balentien will provide the power. He broke the Japanese record for homeruns with 60 a couple years ago. He has been battling with injuries since so the DH spot is best for him.

Weakness - They are lacking a major league quality catcher. Their outfield also lacks depth with infielder Stijin Vandemeer replacing outfielder Chris Garia on the roster. Some of those extra infielders will see time in the outfield with Jurickson Profar the most logical candidate. In the past their lineup has had difficulty scoring runs but this should not be a problem for this team.

Prospects to Watch - Tom de Blok, Ryan Oduber and Neimerson Angela are three of the younger pitchers on the roster. Myworld does not know a lot about them. The position players are pretty well established with Stijin Vandemeer a shortstop prospect for the Astros recently added to the roster. He may be one of the outfielders. With Carlos Correa at shortstop Stijin does not have any hope of replacing him in a couple years so getting some experience in the outfield would be a good thing.

Expected Finish - They should advance past the first round with Taiwan and South Korea battling for the second team. It could end up like it did in 2013 with a three way tie for first place. It will be a disappointment if they do not get to the final four like they did last year. The roster certainly has the talent.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.