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Molina right at home at 9th All-Star Game

Veteran catcher says retirement, potential HOF election only 'on the back of my mind'
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

Yadier Molina's place in history has been a subject of national debate recently, with pundits from MLB Network to social media pondering his future Hall of Fame candidacy. It's an argument, quite literally, for another day: Molina does not plan to retire until after the 2020 season, and he won't be eligible for Cooperstown until five years after he hangs up his cleats.

But as it stands now, another All-Star appearance certainly won't hurt his case.

Yadier Molina's place in history has been a subject of national debate recently, with pundits from MLB Network to social media pondering his future Hall of Fame candidacy. It's an argument, quite literally, for another day: Molina does not plan to retire until after the 2020 season, and he won't be eligible for Cooperstown until five years after he hangs up his cleats.

But as it stands now, another All-Star appearance certainly won't hurt his case.

"It's in the back of my mind," Molina said Monday, at All-Star Media Day prior to the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. "But I don't like to think about it right now."

More on the forefront for Molina is enjoying his ninth career All-Star appearance, as he forms part of an NL catching crop that also features J.T. Realmuto and Willson Contreras. The selection comes on the strength of Molina's most productive offensive season in years. Despite missing a month due to injury, Molina's .474 slugging percentage ranks second to Realmuto among NL catchers. His 13 home runs are tied for first with Yasmani Grandal of the Dodgers. Molina also places third in RBIs (41) and fourth in hitting (.274).

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Meanwhile, Molina's defensive numbers remain solid, and his reputation still precedes him during his age-36 season. Only 20 baserunners have attempted to steal off him in 63 games -- none of this year's seven All-Star catchers can boast a lower per-game rate.

The package was enough to make Molina the immediate choice to replace Buster Posey in this year's Midsummer Classic after it was determined Posey would miss the contest with a hip injury. Molina will be recognized at Nationals Park alongside five of his Puerto Rican countrymen, many of whom were teammates on Team Puerto Rico during last year's World Baseball Classic.

"It's a great view for the island, great for everybody down there," Molina said. "We knew baseball is going to go up and up. We're showing that now, the talent that we have is right here."

Video: STL@PHI: Molina leaves the yard twice vs. Phillies

As recently as last week, the possibility existed of as many as three players representing the Cardinals in Tuesday's All-Star Game Presented by Mastercard. Matt Carpenter was a candidate for the Final Vote, before falling short to Milwaukee's Jesus Aguilar. Miles Mikolas was selected to make his first appearance, but he'll miss the game due to a family matter. Instead it'll just be Molina, and perhaps that's fitting.

Few have meant more to the fabric of the Cardinals since he debuted in 2004 than Molina, who has spent this season climbing the all-time ranks in durability categories such as career games caught. He is the franchise's longest-tenured position player and first to spend at least 15 seasons in St. Louis since Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina