Japan remains the top-ranked nation in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball World Rankings for men, which have been updated to reflect the final standings for 2017.
The East Asian country, which has held the leading position since November 2014, has 5,658 points to its name.
It is followed in the standings by the United States, whose squads earned a record high 2,127 annual ranking points to move onto 5,414.
The US swept the three global titles on offer in 2017 – the Under-12 Baseball World Cup, the Under-18 Baseball World Cup and the World Baseball Classic.
South Korea is third with 4,950 points, while Chinese Taipei are fourth with 3,808 and Cuba fifth with 3,677.
Mexico and Australia have both hit historical highs in 2017, climbing to number six and seven respectively.
The Mexicans have 3,012 points, while Australia has 2,634.
Israel made the biggest jump in 2017, adding 22 points to advance from number 41 to number 19.
The country defeated four top 10 nations – Chinese Taipei, Cuba, South Korea and The Netherlands – in its World Baseball Classic debut.
The Baseball World Rankings, presented by ENEOS, weigh a country’s national team performance from under-12 to professional in WBSC-sanctioned international competitions from 2014 to 2017.
It is claimed baseball/softball is the only sport with nations from the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania in the top 10 of the respective world rankings.
New countries entering the world rankings are American Samoa, Aruba, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guam, Nepal and the United States Virgin Islands.
Nations to have fallen out of the world rankings are Afghanistan, Fiji, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Caledonia and Palau.
The official 2018 international baseball calendar features two World Championships that will have the biggest impact on this year’s WBSC Baseball World Rankings.
The Under-15 Baseball World Cup is due to take place in Panama City from August 10 to 19, while the Under-23 Baseball World Cup is scheduled to be held in Nicaragua’s capital Managua from October 19 to 28.
The top 12 nations in the 2018 end-of-the-year WBSC Baseball World Rankings will qualify for the 2019 WBSC Premier12, the men’s professional baseball national team global championship and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifier.
The WBSC Baseball World Rankings will next be calculated in the coming weeks, as points earned in 2014 are set to expire.
The web-based version and methodology of the WBSC World Rankings can be accessed here.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.