The All-Star Game seems to be in the hands of the players who were elected as starters.

The fans have spoken, and they have made several sharp choices this year, particularly in the National League.

However, reserves have made a huge impact on the All-Star Game since its inception in 1933, and it is quite likely that the talented group that will start the game on the bench will produce one or two heroes, and perhaps more.

Players like Bobby Bonds (1973 MVP), Julio Franco (1990 MVP), Sandy Alomar (1997 game-winning homer and MVP) and Michael Young (2006 game-winning hit and MVP) have come off the bench and made huge plays to lead their league to victory. 

In this piece, we highlight four reserves on each team.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy can breathe easy when he looks at his bench and sees Yadier Molina ready to jump in at the catching position.

While Bochy will undoubtedly give starter Buster Posey of his Giants plenty of run, he knows when he turns to Molina, he will be putting in the best defensive catcher in the game, and one of the best in the sport’s history.

In addition to his powerful arm, his ability to keep tough pitches from getting past him and his ability to call a strong game puts Molina in a class by himself. He has become an excellent offensive force in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup. Molina has a .292/.333/.706 slash line, and while he has just two homers and 27 RBI, he is more than capable of getting the big hit.

Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates is technically a bench player. He was not voted into the National League starting outfield, but Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton will not play in the game because of a broken bone in his hand, and McCutchen will start in his place.

After an ordinary start, McCutchen has got it going once again. He has a .297/.391/.884 slash line with 10 home runs and 51 RBI. After his indifferent early play, McCutchen has the Pirates playing sharp baseball once again.

Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs has made his first All-Star team as a rookie. It appears to be a fairly safe bet that he will make many more during the run of his career, assuming he can stay healthy.

The 23-year-old Bryant has already launched 12 home runs and 49 RBI since getting called up from Iowa early in the season, and he has a .279/.383/.867 slash line. He could cause a lot of damage coming off the bench for the National League against American League pitchers who don’t know him.

Bryant figures to have more of an impact than Dodgers rookie outfielder Joc Pederson, who has cooled down after a hot start. Pederson has a .170/.333/.309 slash line over his last 30 games.

Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies has a chance to give the NL All-Stars some late lightning off the bench. Arenado has been raking all season in the Mile High City, and he has blasted 24 homers and knocked in 68 runs. He is also one of the best fielding third basemen in the game, and he is capable of stopping any rally with the leather.

The American League appears to have reversed the National League’s brief rally that saw the Senior Circuit win three games in a row from 2010 through 2012. The American League has won the last two games, and Kansas City manager Ned Yost appears to have a plethora of stars he can choose off the bench.

Jason Kipnis is one of the top reserves on the American League squad after a brilliant first half of the year with the Cleveland Indians. Many believe that Kipnis would have been a more deserving starter than Jose Altuve (.303 batting average, 94 hits, 24 stolen bases) of the Houston Astros.

It’s actually a great debate, since both players have been so productive. The case for Kipnis is a strong one. He has an eye-catching .340/.416/.919 slash line, and he also has 36 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Kipnis has been getting the barrel of his bat on the ball when he gets a strike, and he is one of the best fastball hitters in the American League.

Jose Iglesias of the Detroit Tigers may be the best fielding American League shortstop since Omar Vizquel was in his prime with the Cleveland Indians. Fans will get a treat if Yost turns to him in the middle or late innings and he gets a chance to show off his range, quick release and athleticism. 

Iglesias is not an all-field, no-hit shortstop. He has 75 hits and has a .323 batting average. He is not a power hitter, but he makes contact and can be a tough out.

Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles is playing for the right team. When older fans think of the best third baseman they ever saw field the position, they think of Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. Machado belongs in the conversation with the great Robinson when it comes to spectacular third base play.

Machado has belted 18 home runs and has 47 RBI this season, and his slash line of .301/.360/.891 makes him one of the most intimidating players in the American League. Machado could be dangerous if Yost sends him up to the plate in a late-inning, clutch situation.

While Sal Perez is clearly an outstanding defensive catcher and one of the Royals’ leaders, many thought Stephen Vogt of the Oakland A’s should have been the AL starter at catcher. Vogt has been hitting the ball consistently all season, and his numbers are impressive. Vogt has a .290/.380/.882 slash line, and he has hammered 13 homers and knocked in 53 RBI.

Yost may lean on Perez throughout the majority of the game, but Vogt should get a chance to show off his offensive skills late in the game and possibly give the AL a chance to win it’s third All-Star Game in a row and build on its 14-3-1 record in the last 18 All-Star Games.

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