enlarge shrink
Did the entire Cubs infield deserve to make the All-Star game?
0:54 | MLB
Did the entire Cubs infield deserve to make the All-Star game?
Wednesday July 6th, 2016

From 1933—the year of the first major league All-Star Game—through '97, the roster sizes for each side in the Midsummer Classic never topped 28 men. Starting in '98, when MLB’s latest round of expansion increased the number of teams to 30, the size of the All-Star squad began to balloon: to 30 that year, 32 in 2003, 33 in '09 and 34 in '10.

The result has been a game filled with more and more players who don’t deserve to be called All-Stars. Starters and reserves for this year’s game, which will be held at Petco Park in San Diego, were announced Tuesday, and the Final Vote results will be revealed next week. We already know some players—like injured pitchers Clayton Kershaw for the NL and Wade Davis in the AL—will need to be replaced, so by the time of the game on July 15, there will be at least 70 men who are officially designated All-Stars this season. Last year, the final total was 76 All-Stars, more than 10% of all players in the majors.

With that in mind, Jay Jaffe and I have decided to slim down the All-Star Game by constructing 25-man rosters for each league with the following setup: eight starting position players, one designated hitter, one backup catcher, three backup infielders, two backup outfielders, six starting pitchers and four relievers. Not every team is required to have a representative (sorry Rays, Twins and A’s). Instead, both Jay and I focused on fielding the best possible team right now, though there are cases where a player's established levels beyond the past half-season were used to make tough choices. Here are the players I chose to comprise the American League's squad; Jay's choices for the NL are here.

All stats are as of Tuesday, July 5. League leaders are in bold; major league leaders are in bold and italics.