LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The World Baseball Softball Confederation today revealed the 2016 end-of-the-year standings in the Official WBSC Baseball World Rankings, which weigh a country’s complete National Team results (from U-12 to Professional) in international competitions over a four-year period (2013-2016). The end-of-the-year (2015 vs. 2016) rankings also take into account the results from the final competition on the official 2016 international baseball calendar, the U-12 Asia Championship 2016, which recently concluded in China.
Baseball’s growing global trend and rising popularity of National Team competitions brought record activity in 2016, with 60 of the 70 ranked countries having moved up or down the rankings within the 12-month period.
“These world rankings reflect a very healthy movement and an unprecedented interest in baseball at the international level — among fans, broadcasters, media and the players themselves — highlighting the ongoing development drive and evolution within our sport,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.
Five continents — Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Oceania — are represented within the Top 12 — the critical cut-off (in 2018) for qualifying for the flagship PREMIER12® 2019, which will be a main qualifier for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
A leading 11 nations from the Americas headline the Top 20 of the WBSC Baseball World Rankings.
Japan atop the Baseball World
Finishing first at multiple events in 2016 — including the U-23 Baseball World Cup®, which was the top international event of the year, and the U-18 and U-12 Asia Championships — as well as earning 2nd Place at the U-15 Baseball World Cup, Japan continues as the top-ranked country and has established a record lead of 771 points over the No. 2 nation, United States. Japan has been defending the top positon in the world rankings since November 2014.
The U.S. remains the world No. 2, winning a bronze medal at the U-15 Baseball World Cup 2016 and capturing the U-18 Pan Am 2016 crown. Also maintaining USA’s position in the rankings are top performances in 2015 that saw the nation continue as world champions across the U-18 and U-12 categories and finish in 2nd Place at the flagship PREMIER12 global championship, which distributes the highest amount of ranking points of any international baseball event (1,380 to the winner).
The Republic of Korea and Mexico in 2016 hit all-time highs in the rankings, becoming the No. 3 and No. 6 baseball superpowers in the world. Korea finished in 3rd Place at the U-23 Baseball World Cup in November, while Mexico took 5th Place. The two nations continue to build on the momentum from 2015, when Korea captured the inaugural PREMIER12 trophy and Mexico finished in 4th Place.
European nation Serbia made the biggest jump in 2016, advancing 20 places (from unranked/No. 71) in 2015 to No. 51 in the world.
South Africa, the continent’s top-ranked nation, moved up 12 spots to No. 28, along with No. 40 Poland and No. 54 Estonia.
International Baseball Calendar 2017
Next year’s international schedule features three world championships, including the WBSC-sanctioned flagship World Baseball Classic (6-22 March), the U-18 Baseball World Cup (1-10 Sept) in Thunder Bay, Canada, and the U-12 Baseball World Cup (28 Jul – 6 Aug) in Tainan, Taiwan.
The winner of the World Baseball Classic, the top event on the calendar, will be awarded 1,150 world ranking points, while the winners of the U-18 Baseball World Cup and the U-12 Baseball World Cup will be awarded 575 and 345 points, respectively.
The web-based version and methodology of the WBSC Baseball World Rankings can be found at www.wbsc.org/rankings.