World Baseball Classic
World Baseball Classic 2023 odds: Futures bets to make for the knockout round
World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic 2023 odds: Futures bets to make for the knockout round

Published Mar. 15, 2023 2:38 p.m. ET

By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

So much for having three clear and obvious favorites to win the World Baseball Classic

Not only has this tournament been a thrill a second, but there’s also been a couple of major surprises, such as the United States losing to Mexico 11-5 and the Dominican Republic teetering on the brink of missing the Quarterfinals altogether.   

The two teams that remain unscathed are Japan and Venezuela. Led by Shohei Ohtani, Japan has outscored their opponents 38-8!  They also get three days’ rest before beginning the knockout round. Venezuela has not been as dominant, but given they’ve knocked off the DR and Puerto Rico, if there was such a thing as WBC "strength of schedule," it would be on their side.   


However, in every WBC but one, the champion has lost at least one game. Keeping that fact in mind, should we bet on Japan and/or Venezuela to take the title, or should we look elsewhere? Here are three futures bets I currently like before we get into the elimination stage with all odds via FOX Bet.

Team Japan: +220 (bet $10 to win $32.20 total) 

Even if they’re due to trip up in the knockout round, I still think the current favorite offers betting value.   

As I mentioned previously, nearly every team would be fortunate if they could count on one starting pitcher who can take command of a game (even with a pitch count). I mentioned Japan had two in Ohtani and Yu Darvish. They may even have a third in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who allowed one hard-hit ball in four innings of work against Australia. Again, Japan played in an easier pool, but they lead the WBC with 0.61 walks and hits per innings pitched. It seems the top hurlers all seem to play for the same team.   

But back to focusing on Ohtani, who already has one of the higher on-base percentages in this tournament (.684). We have countless MLB advanced statistics that can point to his brilliance in the batter’s box and on the mound against the best competition in the world. In the last three seasons, Ohtani ranks seventh in MLB in expected slugging percentage (.564) and 10th in expected weighted on-base average (.390). Suffice to say, pitching around him will be challenging. There is a reason they are the favorites to win it all.

Team Venezuela: +400 (bet $10 to win $50.00 total) 

If your first impulse is to say: it was +900 to start the tournament, how could there still be betting value now?  Firstly, that’s a sound strategy. My only counter involves their possible path to the Finals. 

The reason why the Dominican Republic was the pre-tournament favorite was, had they won Pool D, they would not have had to go through BOTH the United States and Japan. Now, if the U.S. wins Pool C (likely), Venezuela will have that luxury of only facing one of the three juggernauts. If the U.S. earns the runner-up spot, then there may not be much betting value, but it’s best not to wait for more information as the market will adjust. 

Eugenio Suarez and Luis Rengifo have consistently recorded top exit velocities higher than 100 mph this tournament. Add Anthony Santander’s .538 on-base percentage and the high expectations for Ronald Acuña Jr., and you can see why Venezuela’s bats should help this team in high-leverage situations.   

Team Italy: +6000 (bet $10 to win $610.00 total) 

Here’s the ultimate "bet for value" play. Even though they’re likely in the tougher half of the bracket and face Japan right away, at least they qualified. 

Italy also has Matt Harvey, who could be the one starting pitcher who takes over down the stretch. He’s already made two appearances, allowing one earned run in seven innings of work against the Netherlands and Cuba. Granted, he has allowed several hard-hit balls with only three strikeouts, and his fastball only tops out at 91 mph, but his experience with sequencing may prove valuable at a time when he does not have to hold anything back.   

Lastly, here are a few thoughts about the Stars and Stripes. My reservations for the United States’ starting pitching may be waning a tad. Lance Lynn had great command with his four-seam fastball, allowing one earned run against Canada, and Adam Wainwright’s cutter and curveball caused hitters to make poor contact.  However, Japan’s pitching seems stronger, and the United States ranks outside the top 5 in on-base percentage (.388). At this point, +300 on Team USA does not present value.   

Instead of betting patriotically, Japan is still a safe play, Venezuela offers value and Italy is just a fun sprinkle. The WBC should only get more dramatic from here. Let's make some money off of it.

Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, a sports betting analyst, a data scientist and an adjunct professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become a cold brew aficionado. Edward previously worked in local television, notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football.  Follow him on Twitter @EdWithSports.

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