Here we go. Last week Max Scherzer became the first player to commit to representing Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic this March. We knew at the time that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper wouldn't be playing, but the hope was that enough stars would help fill out the roster. So far we are off to a good start. The 2006 Classic probably featured the best roster we've ever had. That year had Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley, and Jake Peavy all in their primes. If guys with rumored interest, such as Kris Bryant and Buster Posey, commit to playing then the 2017 team could end up being our best.
The biggest get from this trio is Nolan Arenado. Not only is he the best player of the three but he was also being recruited to play for Puerto Rico, which he would have been eligible for since his mother is from there. So not only does USA get one of the best third baseman in the world but they block a rival from getting him. The biggest knock on Arenado's game is that he isn't as good of a hitter away from Coors Field. However, this is unfair for two reasons. First because anybody would be a better hitter in Coors than they would be elsewhere.
Secondly he actually improved a lot on the road in 2016. His career triple slash line away from Coors is .261/.305/.457 but in 2016 he improved those numbers to .277/.340/.492. He has now led the National League in homers, RBI, and total bases each of the past two seasons. Additionally Arenado has won a gold glove every year he has been in the league. He's a top three third basemen in baseball and his addition to the roster will move Kris Bryant to left field should he join as well.
That doesn't mean Archer and Jones should be overlooked. Hopefully another ace is on the way and Archer can be the number three, but it isn't the end of the world if he ends up being our two. In the 2013 Classic USA had Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation so it can't get much worse than that. A quick look at Archer's 2016 season shows he wasn't very good. And he wasn't. He went 9-19 with a 4.02 ERA. But a deeper look shows he was a little unlucky. The wins and losses are mostly a result of playing for a 68 win Rays team and his strikeout and walk rates were in line with his career norms.
What stands out is his 4.02 ERA. Before this season his previous career high was 3.33. The jump can be attributed to the insane 30 home runs he gave up this season. The reason this can be considered unlucky is because he had a home run to fly ball ratio of 12.2%, which is much higher than his career average of 8.2%. Home runs can be fluky year to year and ratios like this tend to even out over time. Expect Archer to bounce back next year. He finished fifth in the 2015 AL Cy Young voting and is a great addition to the USA rotation.
Lastly there isn't much to say about Jones. He's a great addition to the roster in large part because he was on the 2013 team so hopefully can use that experience to help himself and his teammates. Jones should be locked into center field duties thanks to the four gold gloves on his resume. He's as consistent of a hitter as they come with at least 25 homers and 80 RBI in every season since 2011.