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Insider

Yes, Puerto Rico's infield is that good

Francisco Lindor is just one facet of an extremely talented infield for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

For pure density of talent in the World Baseball Classic, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more impressive group than Puerto Rico's infield of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Kennys Vargas and catcher Yadier Molina.

Sure, the mainland United States can boast an impressive infield of Paul Goldschmidt, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Crawford, Nolan Arenado and catcher Buster Posey, but that assembly of stars was cobbled together from a nation with a population of more than 300 million, while Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory with 3.5 million residents, smaller than countries such as the Dominican Republic (population: 10,606,865, according to the CIA World Factbook) another baseball-dense country. Further complicating matters -- at least compared to their Caribbean counterparts -- is Puerto Rico being eligible for the MLB draft for the last generation, reducing the incentive for teams to find talent locally as they do in Venezuela or the Dominican.

Despite these handicaps, Puerto Rico's infield would rank among the very best in Major League Baseball this season. You have two legitimate MVP candidates in Correa and Lindor, a phenomenally talented young player in Baez who could become one, and a past MVP candidate who is still pretty good in Molina. Projecting Puerto Rico's infield for a full season in ZiPS, with some extra time filled in by the reserves over a 162-game season, you end up with 19.4 WAR, the second-best infield in baseball behind the Chicago Cubs' group.