The 2023 World Baseball Classic is around the corner and not only will José Altuve be playing for Venezuela but he will also have a huge leading role. Altuve will play a key part in the team’s leadership along with also-legend Miguel Cabrera, who will be with the team more because of what he means than because of what he can offer offensively nowadays.
Despite the Venezuelan roster being stacked with stars, Altuve steps up as the leading voice along with Cabrera. He’s the star in the infield, the most experienced player, just won his second World Series, and already knows what playing in the World Baseball Classic feels like.
In his first attempt, Altuve didn’t do so well – just like the rest of his teammates as Venezuela fell down in the second round and didn’t win a game on that stage. He went 7-for-27 (.259) with no extra-base hits, one run batted in, four runs scored, one walk, four strikeouts, and an error as third baseman.
However, this tournament finds Altuve, now 32 years old, in a very good position. In the 2022 MLB season, he hit 39 doubles and 28 home runs while getting 158 hits across 141 regular-season games. Tuve also recorded 57 RBIs, 103 runs scored, 18 steals in 19 attempts, 66 walks, 87 strikeouts, and a pretty good .300/.387/.533 slash line. His OPS finished at .921.
Venezuela, which will now officially be playing without star Ronald Acuña Jr., needs Altuve to be the spark of a lineup that has always begun slowly in the past editions of the WBC. So far, Venezuela’s best run in the tournament came in 2009 when they reached the semifinals and lost the sudden-death game 10-2 against South Korea.
Besides Altuve and Miggy, Venezuela’s preliminary roster features Royals’ catcher Salvador Pérez, new Marlins’ second baseman and AL batting champion Luis Arráez, Guardians’ Andrés Giménez, and new Dodger Miguel Rojas. Also, it includes Orioles’ outfielder Anthony Santander, Marlins’ Avisaíl García, Yankees’ Gleyber Torres, and Mariners’ slugger Eugenio Suárez.
On the pitching side, Rangers’ lefty Martín Pérez will be in front of the starting rotation along with new Twin Pablo López, Phillies’ Ranger Suárez, Marlins’ Jesús Luzardo, Altuve’s teammate Luis García, Phillies’ José Alvarado, Rockies’ Germán Márquez, and Dodgers’ Brusdar Graterol with more names yet to be known.
With Astros’ coach Omar López taking charge this time after Luis Sojo and Omar Vizquel failed to get Venezuela the trophy, “la Vinotinto” has the mission to perform according to their traditions and historic love for baseball to make its nation forget about past tournament failures.