Japan retain place at top of WBSC world baseball rankings
By InsidetheGames, 19 March 2016

Japan have retained their place at the top of the world baseball rankings ahead of the United States, a position they have held since November 2014, although the gap is narrowing.
The rankings, compiled by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), are unique because they weigh a country's entire national programme from under-12 to professional in international competition using a four-year cycle and analysing data of more than 1,000 international competitions dating back to 2012.
According to the WBSC, Japan have 5,154 points, putting them ahead of the US on 5,091.
The US has pulled within 63 ranking points of the top spot, having defended the country's world titles at the Under-12 Baseball World Cup and Under-18 Baseball World Cup in 2015, while having placed second at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and flagship Premier12, which awards the most ranking points of any international competition.
Chinese Taipei has moved up a position from world number four to three, their highest ever position.
South Korea, bolstered by winning the Premier12 last November, has jumped up four spots to tie its highest-ever ranking at number four in the world.
South Korea climbed as high as four in 2009 after winning the Olympic gold medal at Beijing 2008 and a second-place finish at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Mexico, who advanced to the semifinals of the Premier12, has moved up five spots to world number seven.
The United States are now within 63 points of the top-ranked Japan following a silver medal at last year's Pan American Games in Toronto and victories in the Under-12 and Under-18 World Cups ©Getty Images
Italy, now Europe's top-ranked country, has advanced two positions to world number nine, the first time they have been inside the world top 10.
The Dominican Republic, who failed to win a match at the Premier12, has dropped six places to world number 12.
Oceania's top nation Australia has moved up a spot to number 13.
South Africa is Africa's best-ranked representative at number 40.
Four countries are making their historic debuts in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings: Singapore at 58, India at 59, Estonia at 66 and Iraq at 68.
Sweden make the biggest leap forward in the rankings, moving up 24 spots from number 53 to 29.
The top international competitions on the 2016 calendar are the Under-23 Baseball World Cup in Monterrey in Mexici, due to take place in October and November, which will award 690 points to the winning country, and the Under-15 Baseball World Cup in Fukushima in Japan between July 29 and August 7., which will award 460 points to the winners.