This is why these games are so special. (And why spring training games are yawners.)
Joey Meneses, a thirty-one-year-old career minor leaguer, who, after floating around the minor leagues and foreign leagues, for twelve years, finally got a taste of the major leagues with the Washington Nations, tasted something even sweeter last night.
Meneses led his Team Mexico to the most unlikely win over a stunned Team USA in pool play in the World Baseball Classic. He hit two home runs—the first was the stunner, the second was the dagger—in Mexico’s 11-5 win over the United State. It’s not like Meneses is totally overwhelmed by major league pitching. In 56 games last year, a rookie at age thirty, the Mexican native hit 13 home runs, drove in 34, batted .324, with an on-base percentage of .364 and an OPS of .930. Extrapolated over a 162-game season, he would have had 38 home runs and 98 RBIs.
That’s All-Star-level performance. And, as if to put any doubts to rest that he can hit with the best of them, he put it all on display last night, going 3-for-5 with five RBIs.
This is what makes these games so much more important. Spring training games are meaningless. Rarely does one’s performance in spring affect whether they do or don’t make the big league club. It’s almost alway pre-determined. But the WBC is all about making a name for yourself in your home country.
Joey Meneses did just that. And, if last year was any indication, he will be doing more of that for the Washington Nationals in 2023. Baseball may have found itself another hidden All-Star.
Arizona @ Texas, 3:05