The World Baseball Softball Confederation has signed a deal with ENEOS ©WBSC

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today announced a new sponsorship category and partner for the official WBSC baseball and softball world rankings.

Japan's largest petroleum company, Tokyo-based JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, and the WBSC have reached an agreement that makes the oil giant's leading brand, ENEOS, the presenting partner of the rankings. 

The ENEOS logos will be included on the WBSC's website and all related media and social media materials and announcements.

A new name for the rankings has also been agreed, the "WBSC World Rankings Presented by ENEOS".

"This exciting partnership with ENEOS positions WBSC among the few sports and international federations with a rankings sponsor, bringing added prestige and status to our sport, the WBSC Baseball World Cups and Softball World Championships, and all WBSC-sanctioned events on which the rankings are based," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. 

"The WBSC world rankings are one of the most closely followed international properties among WBSC's members and fans in over 140 countries and territories, and we feel this is a perfect partnership to further elevate this exciting WBSC-asset while delivering global brand exposure to ENEOS."

The rankings track a country's team performance in all WBSC-sanctioned international competitions, from under-12 youth level to professional categories over a four-year period. 

This totals more than 1,000 games.

The latest rankings reflect recent results from the under-12 and under-18 Baseball World Cups, the under-15, under-23 and "B-Level" European Baseball Championships, the under-15 Pan-Am Baseball Championship and the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade.

According to the WBSC, they are the only current team sport world rankings that feature nations from five continents - Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania - inside the top ten.

Japan still lead the men's baseball rankings but the United States are closing in ©WBSC
Japan still lead the men's baseball rankings but the United States are closing in ©WBSC

With recent wins in the Under-12 and Under-18 Baseball World Cups and the Under-15 Pan-Am Championship, the United States have closed in on Japan in the men's baseball rankings, and are now just 184 points behind in second place.

Following a fifth place finish at the Under-18 Baseball World Cup, Australia has risen to an all-time high at number seven. 

They have overtaken Venezuela, who drop two places to ninth.

Europe's top-ranked nation, The Netherlands, finished seventh at the Under-18 Baseball World Cup, won the Under-23 European Baseball Championship and placed second at the Under-15 European Baseball Championship.

They have now moved into seventh position.

Serbia made the biggest leap in the rankings, advancing eight spots to number 43 following a fourth place finish at the European B-Level Championship.