The Los Angeles Angels were well-represented throughout the World Baseball Classic with Shohei Ohtani carrying Team Japan to a stunning victory over Mike Trout and the United States.
Their efforts, along with Patrick Sandoval’s for Mexico, were recognized as some of the best of the tournament, earning them All-World Baseball Classic honors.
Upon entering the World Baseball Classic championship game in a save situation, Shohei Ohtani had already proved why he’s the most talented and unique player on the planet. His results at the plate and on the mound were historic, posting a .435/.606/.739 slash with eight RBI and a 2-0 record with a 1.86 ERA and one save.
In 9.2 innings, Ohtani flashed his triple-digit fastball with a wipeout slider, logging 11 punchouts. No strikeout was more important than the final out that secured the title when he snapped off a sweeping slider in a full count to get his Angels teammate swinging.
For Trout, his addition to the United States roster brought on numerous superstars who followed his lead, and through the WBC he played like a captain. In 27 at-bats he posted a .962 on-base plus slugging with one homer and seven RBI.
Although the shots weren’t falling in the championship game, Trout’s contributions came in waves, especially against Columbia.
The hidden gem was Sandoval, who is coming off a fantastic 2022 season. The 26-year-old joined manager Benji Gil’s roster with high hopes to make an impact.
He proved to be more than that, with one of the top showings in the entire WBC with a 1.23 ERA over 7.1 innings pitched, allowing just one run while striking out eight batters. Sandoval was stellar in Mexico’s semifinal matchup versus the tough lefties of Team Japan, shutting them out over 4.1 innings with six strikeouts.
Sandoval spoke on what the tournament meant to not only him, which was represented in his play but to the future of baseball in Mexico.
“Yeah, I’ve kind of just been asking the team like if — you know, what’s the vibe like in Mexico right now, are they talking about us, how do they feel about us, and yeah, they said people are going crazy, it’s exciting, it’s a cool time to be a Mexican baseball fan,” Sandoval said before his start against Japan. “It’s cool to be a part of this. It’s awesome. I don’t even know how to describe it.”
All three return to Angels camp this week to join the team with a small bit of Spring Training left to tackle, but each of them can walk a bit taller with their incredible play during the WBC.
World Baseball Classic sets attendance, viewership records
The 2023 World Baseball Classic drew 1,010,999 fans for the first round of pool play, surpassing the 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017 attendance numbers. The previous record of 510,056 was set in 2017, marking a 98% increase.
The average attendance of 25,275 also set a record for the first round of the tournament, eclipsing 2017’s average of 20,402 by 24%.
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