Getty Images

The World Baseball Classic returns this week for the first time since 2017 after the 2021 WBC was postponed because of the pandemic. This year, the tournament is back from March 8-21 at four locations. The Championship Game will be played March 21 at loanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins.

"Along with our fans, partners and the entire South Florida community, we are honored Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have selected loanDepot park to host all three rounds of the 2023 World Baseball Classic," Marlins owner Bruce Sherman said in a statement last July. "We look forward to welcoming fans from across the globe to loanDepot park to cheer on many of the top players in the game taking part in this prestigious event."

The WBC showcases the top talent in the world in a best-on-best tournament, part of MLB's efforts to grow the game globally. Japan won the inaugural WBC in 2006 and repeated as champions in 2009. The Dominican Republic won the 2013 WBC and the United States won the 2017 WBC. Japan has finished in no lower than third place in all four WBCs.

Here is everything you need to know about this year's WBC, including the format, the rules, and the prize money. For a Team USA-specific breakdown, head over here.

Format and schedule

For the first time ever, the WBC will feature 20 teams this year, up from 16 in the previous four tournaments. There are three rounds to the WBC: Pool Play, the Quarterfinal Round, and the Championship Round. Here is the full schedule and here are the four pools:

Pool APool BPool CPool D


March 8-13

March 9-13

March 11-15

March 11-15


Taichung, Taiwan

Tokyo, Japan

Phoenix, Arizona

Miami, Florida


Chinese Taipei



Dominican Republic








Puerto Rico






Czech Republic

Great Britain


The top four teams in each pool participated in the 2017 WBC and were given an automatic berth into the 2023 WBC, while the other four teams earned their spots in qualifying tournaments last fall. The Czech Republic and Great Britain beat out France, Germany, South Africa, and Spain in the Pool A qualifier in Regensburg, Germany. Nicaragua and Panama outlasted Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand, and Pakistan in the Pool B qualifier in Panama City.

During Pool Play, each team plays the other four teams in its pool once each, and the teams with the two best records advance to the Quarterfinal Round. There are no tiebreaker games in the WBC. Instead, the team that won the head-to-head game holds the tiebreaker, and if there's a massive tie between three or more teams, teams are ranked using this tiebreaker criteria until the tie is broken:

  1. Lowest quotient of fewest runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded in games between the teams that are tied.
  2. Lowest quotient of fewest earned runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded in games between the teams that are tied.
  3. Highest batting average in games in that round between the teams tied.

Got all that? Couldn't go with simple run differential, huh? And! And if three or more teams are still tied after all that, there will be a "drawing of lots," meaning the people in charge of the WBC will literally pick teams out of a hat. Fortunately it is extremely unlikely to come down to that. Anything beyond the initial head-to-head tiebreaker will make your head hurt.

Now that the WBC has expanded to 20 teams, there is a relegation system in place. The last place team in each pool following Pool Play will be relegated and have to play in a qualifier tournament to secure a spot in the next WBC. The top four teams in each pool are given automatic berths into the next WBC. That means any games between teams that have already been eliminated from advancing to the Quarterfinal Round are meaningful. No one wants to get relegated.

After all that, two teams advance out of each pool in Pool Play, leaving eight teams total. From there it's a single-elimination eight-team bracket, and the last team standing wins the WBC. Here is the Quarterfinal Round and Championship Round schedule:

Quarterfinal Round

Quarterfinal 1


March 15

Pool B runner-up vs. Pool A winner

Quarterfinal 2


March 15

Pool A runner-up vs. Pool B winner

Quarterfinal 3


March 17

Pool C runner-up vs. Pool D winner

Quarterfinal 4


March 18

Pool D runner-up vs. Pool C winner

Championship Round

Semifinal 1


March 19

Quarterfinal 1 winner vs. Quarterfinal 3 winner

Semifinal 2


March 20

Quarterfinal 2 winner vs. Quarterfinal 4 winner

Championship Game


March 21

Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner

Each team will play at least four games this WBC, and the last two teams standing will each play seven games. There will be a total of 47 games played during the 2023 WBC. Fox Sports holds exclusive broadcasting rights in the U.S. and will show every WBC game on the Fox Sports family of networks.

Rosters and eligibility

Official WBC rosters were announced Feb. 9. Each team has a 30-man roster with a minimum of 14 pitchers and two catchers. Here is USA's roster, which is headlined by team captain Mike Trout and future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Our Dayn Perry took a crack at building a lineup for USA manager Mark DeRosa. Every team's WBC roster can be viewed here.

Players are eligible to play for WBC teams if they meet certain criteria that extends beyond citizenship, which is how Lars Nootbaar, who was born and raised in California, wound up on Japan's roster. A player is eligible to play for a country in the WBC if he:

  • Was born in the country, holds citizenship, or has a permanent residence in the country.
  • Has documentation showing he is eligible for citizenship in the country if he applied.
  • Has at least one parent who was born in the country or holds citizenship.
  • Previously represented the country in the WBC.

MLB teams could not have more than 15 players (major leaguers or minor leaguers) selected to the WBC, or more than 10 players who were on their active roster or injured list last Aug. 31, without the club's approval. The Angels are sending an MLB-high 19 players to the WBC. The Rangers are sending only three, fewest among MLB clubs. MLB teams could block players from the WBC only under certain injury conditions. The Yankees blocked Luis Severino from participating, for example.

WBC teams are allowed to make roster substitutions in the event of an injury, paternity leave, etc. Each country has an Available Player List of approved extra players. If a player gets hurt, the team can replace him with someone from their Available Player List, though a player removed from the roster for injury is ineligible to play the rest of the WBC. Players on paternity or bereavement leave can rejoin their WBC teams later in the tournament.

Furthermore, each WBC team has Designated Pitcher Pool with up to 10 pitchers who can be added to the roster after each round. Two pitchers can be replaced on the roster after each round for any reason, and pitchers who are dropped from the roster can not be put back on later. Once you've been swapped out for someone else, you're done for the WBC.

Pitcher limits

Because the WBC takes place in the middle of spring training, everyone involved is understandably concerned about pitchers and their usage. March is typically when pitchers slowly build up in a low-stress environment. The WBC puts them in meaningful games and risks asking them to do too much too soon.

For that reason, the WBC includes strict rules on pitcher usage. Here are the limits:

  • Maximum 65 pitches per game during Pool Play.
  • Maximum 80 pitches per game during the Quarterfinal Round.
  • Maximum 95 pitches per game during the Championship Round.
  • Minimum four days of rest after a 50-pitch outing.
  • Minimum one day of rest after a 30-pitch outing.
  • No pitching back-to-back-to-back days at any point.

Pitchers have gotten hurt at the WBC. Nationals workhorse setup man Luis Ayala blew out his elbow at the 2006 WBC and needed Tommy John surgery, for example. Lefty Drew Smyly, then with the Mariners, suffered a flexor strain at the 2017 WBC and later had Tommy John surgery. It's not just pitchers either. Mark Teixeira suffered a season-ruining wrist injury at the 2013 WBC.

That said, players get hurt in spring training too (nearly 30 percent of Tommy John surgeries each year take place in March). There is no way to play baseball without risking injury. It is fair to wonder whether the competitive nature of the WBC creates heightened injury risk, though there are strict rules in place intended to protect pitchers. 

By the way, position players under contract with an MLB organization cannot pitch in the WBC under any circumstances unless they have received permission in advance. The obvious outlier, Shohei Ohtani, is on Japan's roster with a two-way player designation and can (and will) pitch in the WBC.


Aside from limits on pitcher usage, WBC rules largely mirror MLB's rules. The WBC will feature the three-batter minimum, the universal DH, an automatic runner at second base in extra innings, and replay review. For replay, each team gets one challenge per game during Pool Play and the Quarterfinal Round. They get two challenges per game in the Championship Round.

There are two key differences between the WBC rules and MLB's rules this year. First, MLB's new rules instituting a pitch clock, a ban on extreme infield shifts, and larger bases will not be enforced at the WBC. The WBC will feature the same pitch clock-less and infield shift-heavy baseball we saw last year, and all the years prior to that.

And second, there is a mercy rule during Pool Play (but not the Quarterfinal or Championship Rounds). If a team leads by 10 or more runs after the seventh inning, or 15 or more runs after the fifth inning, the umpires can end the game. Puerto Rico mercy-ruled USA during the 2009 WBC, with a final score of 11-1 in seven innings.

MVP and All-WBC Team

A WBC MVP will be named and an All-WBC Team will be announced once the Championship Game is completed. Japan's Daisuke Matsuzaka was named WBC MVP in 2006 and 2009. Robinson Canó (Dominican Republic) won WBC MVP in 2013 and Marcus Stroman (USA) won WBC MVP in 2017. Here is the 2017 All-WBC Team:

Matsuzaka (2006 and 2009) and Molina (2013 and 2017) are the only players to be named to multiple All-WBC Teams. Japan and Puerto Rico are the all-time leaders with nine All-WBC Team selections each. 

Prize pool

Similar to the MLB postseason, the WBC has a prize pool, and the more you win, the more you get. The prize pool is $14.4 million total this year and it is split 50/50 between players and their federations (i.e. the agency that runs the country's baseball program). Here's the prize breakdown:

PrizeNo. of teamsTotal

Qualify for WBC



$6 million

Pool winner



$1.2 million




$3.2 million




$2 million

Championship Game



$1 million

Championship Game winner

$1 million


$1 million

Each team gets $300,000 just for showing up, and the WBC champion can max out its prize pool at $3 million. That's $300,000 for being in the WBC, plus $300,000 for winning your pool, $400,000 for getting to the Quarterfinal Round, $500,000 for reaching the semifinals, $500,000 for reaching the Championship Game, and $1 million for winning the Championship Game. Half goes to the federation and the other half is split among the players, so that's $50,000 per player on the 30-man roster. Not a bad little 14-day side hustle, if you ask me.