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How the MLB All-Star rosters are determined

Several factors go into picking players for the midsummer classic. Here’s an explanation of the process.

88th MLB All-Star Game Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game rosters will be announced on Sunday evening (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), with several factors determining the rosters for each league. Here is a look at how the sausage is made.

Each league will be allowed 32 players on the roster, including 20 position players and 12 pitchers. The composition of said rosters are filled in three parts.

Fan voting

First, the fans vote for the starting position players, which means eight players in the National League and nine — including the designated hitter — in the American League. The outfielders are voted on as a group and not separated by position, with the top three in each league getting to start.

Long gone are the days of the in-stadium paper ballots. This marked the fifth year that All-Star voting is exclusively online. The voting period ended on Thursday night, July 5.

The National League will use a designated hitter during the game, but it is up to the manager to determine who will start there among the remaining position players.

Player voting

MLB players get to vote as well, electing eight position players in each league, plus the designated hitter in the AL. The top vote-getter at each position earns a spot here. In the case that the player vote winner matched the fan vote, the player with the second-highest vote total from the players gets the spot.

Players also select eight pitchers for each side, five starters and three relievers.

Commissioner’s office

At this point we have 16 position players filled in the NL and 18 in the AL, plus eight pitchers in each league. That leaves four position players in the NL and two in the AL, plus four pitchers in each league for the commissioner’s office to fill in.

This used to be filled by the managers of each league, who are the previous season’s pennant winners. This year that is A.J. Hinch of the Houston Astros and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the current collective bargaining agreement which began in 2017 did away with that old practice, streamlining things by having those final spots filled by the league office.

MLB: All Star Game-Batting Practice
Corey Kluber, a two-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner, was an MLB selection for the American League All-Star team in 2017.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Things can get tricky with these final spots, especially since there is a rule that every team must be represented in the All-Star Game.

Final Vote & replacements

There is an even another wrinkle in the roster selection process. The actual 20th position player spot won’t be nailed down on Sunday, but rather narrowed to a group of five players in each league who will compete in the “Final Vote.” This will run through Thursday, with online voting and a barrage of social media hashtags collected to determine the final spot. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner won the National League Final Vote in 2017 with 20.8 million votes.

Once the Final Vote is decided we have our 32-man rosters, but even then things aren’t entirely finished. That’s because there will be numerous substitutions, usually for injured players and sometimes for starting pitchers who will pitch on the Sunday preceding the All-Star Game, like Justin Verlander this year for instance. In 2017 seven players were added as replacements, and in 2016 nine replacements were added.

There you have it, that’s how the players are picked for the midsummer classic. The 2018 MLB All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.