Baseball Preview

Baseball returns to the Olympic program in Tokyo for the first time since Beijing 2008. The sport had previously been part of the program since 1992. In total, baseball has been on the official Olympic program at six Games (with Tokyo 2020 being the seventh) and has been contested as a demonstration sport at an additional seven Games.

Team USA will look to win its second Olympic gold medal in baseball, having won gold at Sydney 2000. In the last edition of baseball at the Games in 2008, the U.S. won the bronze medal. Falling to Cuba in the semifinals, the U.S. team bounced back to claim a decisive 8-4 victory against Japan to secure third place in the tournament. Combined with a bronze medal from 1996, the U.S. has earned three official medals in baseball at the Olympic Games, second only to Cuba in the sport’s medal chart. Though still only a demonstration sport at the time, the U.S. also unofficially earned second in Los Angeles in 1984 and first in Seoul in 1988.

The U.S. hopes to continue this story of success in Tokyo after clinching Olympic qualification by winning the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier on June 5. The No. 2 ranked team in the world, the U.S. won all of its games in the eight-team tournament while utilizing a roster of minor league prospects and veterans not currently on a MLB 40-man roster. Team USA became the fifth team to qualify for the Games, joining host Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea. The tournament will take place outside of Tokyo in Yokohama and Fukushima.

Updated on July 13, 2021. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

• Baseball is indeed back at the Olympic Games, but enjoy it while it lasts. As part of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Agenda 2020, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee had the opportunity to add sports to the Olympic program and, with baseball and softball being popular in the country, the sports were added to the 2020 Games. (After being separate sports in previous Olympics, baseball and softball joined forces in recent years to boost their chances of being added back to the Olympic program,) But baseball/softball will again drop off the program for the 2024 Paris Games. Fans hope America’s pastime will be added back in for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.


•  Who will be wearing red, white and blue will be an interesting storyline to keep an eye on throughout the summer. Major League Baseball and its players union have opted to only allow players who are not on a 40-man MLB roster to compete for their national teams. That nonetheless leaves an interesting and talented group of prospects and veterans that should make Team USA a contender in Tokyo.

The U.S. player pool for baseball at the Olympic Games is quite broad despite the limitations on selecting current MLB players. Here’s a look at a few of the impact players from the Americas Qualifier who could be called on again.


•  Triston Casas, 21, was the highest ranked prospect on the team by Baseball America, checking in at No. 52. A 2018 first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, Casas currently plays at Double-A Portland. Casas was second on the U.S. in hits at the Americas Qualifier, going 6-for-15 with three RBIs.


•  Todd Frazier, 35, is a more familiar name to anyone who’s followed MLB over the past 10 years. The two-time All-Star was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 13 but caught on with Team USA and went 4-for-4 in the Olympic-clinching win over Venezuela. Frazier, a third baseman, tied for the team lead in home runs and went 6-for-15 in the tournament.


•  Also coming up big in the clinching win over Venezuela was 21-year-old lefthander Matthew Liberatore. The 16th pick in the 2018 draft started and pitched 4.2 innings of one-run ball while striking out four. Liberatore plays in the St. Louis Cardinals system at Triple-A Memphis and is the No. 80 prospect per Baseball America.


•  Joe Ryan, 25, was third at the Americas Qualifier with 10 strikeouts, doing so in just 4.2 innings. Ryan was just a seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 but has consistently posted outstanding strikeout numbers in his rise through the minors. Ryan advanced through three levels in 2019, joining Triple-A Durham for 2021.


• Eddy Alvarez, 31, is already an Olympic medalist in short track speedskating. Now the infielder from the Miami Marlins organization is going for another in baseball. Alvarez, who made his MLB debut in 2020, hit 3-for-11 with two doubles and a triple at the Americas Qualifier.

•  July 28-31, 2021: Opening round of Olympic baseball tournament
•  August 1-5, 2021: Knockout stage
•  August 7, 2021: Bronze- and gold-medal games