To me, there are a couple of different things that you need to take into account when you are trying to project the type of season that Cal Raleigh is going to have in 2023. STEAMER projections think that he is still going to be pretty good, even if his numbers would be down a little bit.
I can see that argument when you look at the 2020 season as a whole for Raleigh. Big Dumper hit .211/.284/.489. It's not a good BA, but the OBP is fine for how low the BA is. SLG was nasty, and I love it.
Cal Raleigh had a couple of big time things that affected him in 2022. First, we need to talk about the ROUGH start to the year. On June 5th, after 54 games for the Mariners, Raleigh was hitting just .152/.218/.367 with 5 HR and 33 K's in just 79 ABs. It wasn't a good start.
Then, things changed. Throughout the rest of the year, Raleigh would start 76 games and play in 91 of a possible 108 games. He also would hit 22 HR with a K rate of just 27%, compared to the 38% to start the year. He would also hit .227/.302/.522. Don't forget BABIP, as Raleigh's was just .239 over that time, around 55 points below the league average. For someone with a hard hit rate of 43.5% (77th) and an exit velo of 90.9 mph (40th), that's incredibly unlucky. You would expect it from a soft-hitter. Not from someone like Big Dumper.
Here is what STEAMER says. A slash line of .224/.290/.450, with a WAR of 3.4. He's supposed to smack 26 HR, score 61 R, and drive in 73 RBI. They still have him with a low BABIP of .256. Last year his WAR was 4.2. They do call for a downgrade in his dWAR, which accounts for most of the difference.
Here's the thing. Raleigh also was playing with a torn ligament and broken thumb. That's something you expect from a QB in the 90s. Not a Catcher in modern times. Yet, he provided the most memorable Mariners moment in 20+ years, helped lead this team to the playoffs, and caught one of the best staffs in baseball this year. All with a broken thumb and torn ligament in that same thumb. It's not normal.
All year, I kept seeing updates on Mariners stats about how Raleigh was one of the few people in the history of baseball to compile the stats that he was doing at his age. With an offseason to get healthy, a more mature staff, and an even better lineup around him... could we be seeing an even better year from Big Dumper? Could he be one of the three best catchers in baseball? It's entirely possible. Sure, we could see the first couple of months production again from him, but I'd bet on the success.
If he see's league average success in BABIP, could we see a 5+ fWAR season from Cal Raleigh? I think it's totally within the realm of possibility. If he has a BABIP of even .285, why couldn't we see .241/.320/.506 with 32 HR? With his power, I can definitely see it. I know we've been fooled a bit before at catcher (yeah, you MZ), but this seems different. STEAMER has Cal Raleigh with good numbers again, but I think we are going to see even better ones in 2023 from Big Dumper.