Mike Trout is one of three former MLB MVPs on the United States' team ©Getty Images

The United States, Dominican Republic, Japan, and Puerto Rico have been tipped as favourites for the World Baseball Classic title in the 20-team competition which is set to run from tomorrow until March 21.

The event is back for the first time since 2017, when the US won for the first time, after being postponed from the original 2021 dates due to COVID-19.

The teams are split into four pools of five, with Pool A fixtures at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taiwan, and Pool B matches in the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

Pool C sees teams compete at Chase Field in Phoenix while another American host in the form of Marlins Park in Miami will be the home for Pool D fixtures as well as quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final.

The tournament has increased from 16 countries for the first time after its 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2017 editions with Britain, the Czech Republic, and Nicaragua making their debuts.

The US is difficult to look past for the gold medal as they have a star-studded line-up on paper.

The team boasts three former Most Valuable Players of Major League Baseball (MLB) in Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Paul Goldschmidt.

Other established talents also feature such as Nolan Arenado, Trea Turner, J.T. Realmuto, Pete Alonso, and Tim Anderson.

Shohei Ohtani is Japan's star player as the country looks to win a third World Baseball Classic title ©Getty Images
Shohei Ohtani is Japan's star player as the country looks to win a third World Baseball Classic title ©Getty Images

They are predicted to top Pool C with Mexico most likely to take the final qualification spot in front of Colombia, Canada, and Britain.

Home advantage and Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani make Japan firm favourites to top Pool B ahead of South Korea, Australia, China, and the Czech Republic.

Last season saw Ohtani become the first pitcher in MLB history to register 100 strikeouts while holding a league-leading 35 home runs before the end of July.

No pitcher had ever even recorded triple-digit strikeouts and added more than nine home runs in the same season.

The Netherlands represent the strongest team in Pool A with the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Schoop, and Jurickson Profar while Cuba are likely to follow them to the knockout rounds.

The two teams will play out the first fixture of the tournament at midday local time tomorrow while Chinese Taipei, Italy and Panama also feature in the group.

Dominican Republic, the 2013 champions, are marginally the favourites in Pool D, which has been named the group of death.

Double runners-up Puerto Rico will also battle with Israel, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to progress.