When you think of the 2022 season for the Mariners, I’m guessing the first thing that comes to mind is playoff related. Sure, it might be Julio Rodriguez, and understandably so. The kid is special. However, for most, my guess would be that it revolves around Cal Raleigh and how the Big Dumper hit a walk-off home run to clinch the Mariners playoff berth.
Big Dumper. Drought Buster. I bought that shirt for the playoffs, and it’s incredible. One of my favorite purchases ever. Cal Raleigh is the one officially responsible for sending the Mariners to the playoffs, dominated in the Wild Card round, and it was the cherry on top of what was an incredible season… post-call-up.
Cal Raleigh gets an A- on his report card for the 2022 season
Look, Cal Raleigh had one of the best seasons EVER by a Mariners catcher, if not the best. It’s hard to argue that anyone behind the plate has had a better season than Cal. HOWEVAA, we do need to remember that the season didn’t start off great for him.
Through the first 50 games of the season, it was bad. Cal had appeared in 25 of those games and was hitting .125/.209/.314, with 30 Ks in just 70 ABs. He had even been sent down to Tacoma for a while around the end of April/beginning of May, playing seven games there. Things were looking really bad for Cal.
Then, something clicked and things changed.
From June 3rd to June 30th, Raleigh would hit .263/.352/.618 with six HR and only 20 Ks in 76 ABs. He was walking, crushing the ball, and playing strong defense behind the plate. I remember having conversations about him and trying to figure out if this was a fluke, or if this was a sign of things to come.
It was far from a fluke. Raleigh ended up having one of the greatest seasons ever from a Mariners catcher. He set a team record for HR by a backstop, clubbing 27 balls. He finished with a slash line of .211/.284/.489, 27 HR and 63 RBI, and an OPS+ of 122. That may seem low, but he also had a BABIP of just .226, which is 65 points below the league average. On league-average luck, Raleigh easily could’ve hit .250 this season.
He ended up with a 3.8 WAR, which is incredible when you realize that up until that change on June 3rd, Raleigh was playing at about a 0.0 clip, if not just above. Over the last 110 games or so, Raleigh played at around a 5.4 WAR pace. That’s incredible.
Of course, when you do something like this, it makes me want to just say screw it and give you an A+ because of what it meant.
You know what? Cal Raleigh means too much to me. To us. To Mariners fans everywhere. A+. A+ forever and ever. Until the end of time. BIG DUMPER FOR LIFE!