World Baseball Classic
WBC scenarios, tiebreakers: How can USA, other teams advance?
World Baseball Classic

WBC scenarios, tiebreakers: How can USA, other teams advance?

Updated Mar. 15, 2023 12:20 p.m. ET

As the 2023 World Baseball Classic is set to wrap up pool play on Wednesday, three spots are still up for grabs for the quarterfinals. 

In Pool C, the United States, Canada and Mexico each have 2-1 records and are in a three-way tie at the top while Colombia is 1-2 and Great Britain is 1-3. 

In Pool D, Venezuela is off to a 3-0 start and has already clinched its ticket to the quarterfinals. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are in second and third place, respectively, with each having a 2-1 record. Israel is third at 1-2 and Nicaragua is fourth at 0-4. 

For Pool D, advancement scenarios are pretty simple. With Venezuela already punching its ticket, Wednesday's Puerto Rico-Dominican Republic game is win-and-advance. The losing team is eliminated. 


But for Pool C, things might get tricky. Mexico and Canada face each other in the final game of pool play, so the winner of that game will advance. The United States takes on Colombia, and if the USA wins, it advances to the next round. 

If the United States loses, though, three teams will finish with a 2-2 record in Pool C and only one can advance. You might think the United States would be automatically safe considering its positive-nine-run differential entering Wednesday, but run differential isn't used as a tiebreaker at all in the World Baseball Classic.

Instead, there are a few different possible tiebreaking scenarios that might be a bit confusing and require some math. 

The first multi-team tiebreaker is the lowest quotient of runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded in games between the teams that are tied. So the team that gave up the fewest number of runs per defensive out in games against the other two teams will advance.

The first tiebreaker was actually utilized in Pool A, with all five teams going 2-2. Cuba gave up 15 runs over 108 defensive outs, helping it advance, and Italy had the second-best quotient to let it advance to the quarterfinals. 

If one team in Pool C stands above the rest after that tiebreak, it advances. If two teams are tied, then the head-to-head result between those two teams will determine who advances.

If all three teams hold a similar number of runs allowed divided by defensive outs recorded, a similar method will be used for the second tiebreak. Instead of total runs allowed, it's the number of earned runs allowed per each defensive out recorded against the other two teams that will determine who advances.

USA vs. Canada Highlights | 2023 World Baseball Classic

The United States blew out Canada to get back on track following a loss to Mexico.

If all three teams are still tied after the second tiebreak, the team with the highest batting average in the games against the two other teams will advance.

If that somehow isn't enough to determine who advances, there will be a drawing of lots between the tied teams.

Of course, with how specific the first three tiebreakers are, it's highly unlikely that sheer luck might determine who advances to the knockout stage. But it's still a scenario.

The United States might need Mexico to beat Canada, though, if it loses and is stuck in a three-way tie. The USA dominated Canada on Monday, winning 12-1 in seven innings. But it got crushed by Mexico on Sunday, losing 11-5. 

If Mexico loses and the USA loses to Colombia, America's hopes of advancing diminish a lot, as it would have two losses against the two teams it's in the tiebreaker with. 

WBC standings:

(x) indicates a team has advanced to quarterfinals

Pool A — Taichung, Taiwan

(x) Cuba: 2-2 

(x) Italy: 2-2

Netherlands: 2-2

Panama: 2-2

Chinese Taipei: 2-2

Pool B — Tokyo, Japan

(x) Japan: 4-0 

(x) Australia: 3-1

Korea: 2-2

Czech Republic: 1-3

China: 0-4

Pool C — Phoenix

Canada: 2-1

Mexico: 2-1 

USA: 2-1

Colombia: 1-2

Great Britain: 1-3

Pool D — Miami 

(x) Venezuela: 3-0

Dominican Republic: 2-1

Puerto Rico: 2-1

Israel: 1-2

Nicaragua: 0-4

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