|Group D will take place at the Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco in Mexico.|
For the final portion of this series on the 2017 World Baseball Classic, we move into Group D.
Where: Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco (Guadalajara, Mexico)
Who: Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Italy
When: March 9-12
Best finish: Second round in 2006 (6th place)
Notable players: IF Brandon Laird. P Luis Mendoza, IF Adrian Gonzalez, IF Japhet Amador, IF Luis Cruz,
Analysis: Mexico has a lineup of pop having Laird and Amador on the roster coming off decent seasons. The only thing that hurts is Khris Davis opting out of playing in the WBC, who came off the 2016 season with 42 home runs. There is major league talent when it comes to the pitching staff, but on paper, Mexico will need to slug its way to the next round. Yovani Gallardo, Mendoza and Jamie Garcia are average at best. Adrian "A-Gone" Gonzalez will be leading a group of solid bats.
Best finish: Lost in semi-finals in 2009
Notable players: P Felix Hernandez, P Bruce Rondon, IF Jose Altuve, IF Miguel Cabrera, OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Ender Inciarte
Analysis: Venezuela is the most talented team of the group as they're coming off a disappointing finish in 2013. This time around, Altuve and Hernandez hope to boost them to contender status. On paper, C Salvador Perez and OF Odubel Herrera give the team riches of position players. Their pitching staff isn't the greatest, but manager Omar Vizquel has quite a lineup which should be dangerous from top to bottom.
Best finish: Lost in finals in 2013
Notable players: C Yadier Molina, IF Carlos Correa, IF Javier Baez, IF Francisco Lindor, OF Carlos Beltran
Analysis: Like most of the field in this group, pitching is an issue. Hector Santiago is likely their best starting option with two NPB connections in Miguel Mejia and Orlando Roman being on the squad. The good thing about it? These pitchers are rather young and should be hungry. Puerto Rico's infield is their biggest strength with Lindor, Correa and Baez all helping out. T.J. Rivera remains a mystery with his short time in MLB, but he should be an intriguing name to lookout for.
Best finish: Second round in 2013
Notable players: P Tommy Layne, P Pat Venditte, C Drew Butera, C Francisco Cervelli, OF Brandon Nimmo, IF Chris Colabello.
Analysis: Italy had a successful 2013 tournament when making it to the second round over Mexico and Canada. This year's squad has Cervelli leading a group of unproven players. Anthony Rizzo is not with the team this time around, but Colabello returns as he was a key player in 2013. There is a lack of depth in both their lineup and pitching compete among the rest, but Italy can still hope that games aren't played on paper.
It is a fun coincidence that Group D is in fact the "Group of Death" as we say in soccer terms. Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela all have a case to advance to the next round while Italy is on the outside. Can Venezuela live up to the hype? Or can Puerto Rico/Mexico hit their way into the second round? There's enough balance among the field which should make this group the most watchable for a level competition.
Group A Analysis
Group B Analysis
Group C Analysis
Samurai Japan roster Analysis
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