With the reserves for the All-Star game to be announced Monday night (with Mets fans hoping Jacob deGrom and Jeurys Familia both make it), it might be a good time to explain exactly how the teams are constructed. It is a bit of a confusing process.
In the old days, fans picked the starters and the All-Star managers picked the rest of the team. It was simple. But oh, those olden times; it is not that simple anymore. MLB ran a good primer on the process, and here is the info in a nutshell:
Each team consists of 34 players. Fans pick the eight National League starters (excluding pitchers) and the nine American League starters (including designated hitter). And despite all of the annual griping, the fans get it right most of the time. This year, the only non-deserving players the fans picked were the four Royals and Matt Holliday.
Then we move on to the players vote (who usually do a worse job than the fans, by the way). The players pick a backup for each position and eight pitchers — five starters and three relievers.
So now the NL has 24 players and the AL 26 (accounting the for two DHs). Finally it gets to the managers. The NL manager gets to pick five pitchers and four position players. The AL manager chooses five pitchers and just two position players. This job is complicated by the fact that the managers have to ensure that each team is represented. It is at this stage that deserving players get snubbed.
So now each team has 33 players. The final spot is filled by another fan vote. In coordination with the Commissioner’s Office, each manager picks five finalists for this spot, and the fans pick their favorite.
This final step is an odd one. There are always players who get snubbed, and you’d think the most obvious ones would end up on this ballot for one last try. Instead, that rarely happens. Perhaps the manager picks a favorite player or is trying to fill a need. Perhaps the Commissioner’s Office wants to pick someone who will garner publicity. Either way, usually the most deserving players get snubbed here, too.
Oh, and if a starter is injured, the man with the most votes in the players ballot moves up to starter, with the manager picking a replacement. And starting pitchers who pitched on the Sunday before the All-Star game can opt out, with the manager again picking the replacement.
So there you have it. It used to be so much easier. Now enjoy the All-Star game.