Could the Mariners have a Gold Glove backstop?

Third-year catcher is coming up clutch behind the dish.
Seattle Mariners v New York Mets
Seattle Mariners v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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Third-year catcher Cal Raleigh has a history of effectively leading pitching staffs that goes back to his ascent through the Mariner farm system. It all started with his chalk talks with Modesto Nuts starters, one of those hurlers being Logan Gilbert. Intangibles like helping a struggling reliever navigate a playoff-caliber lineup in a tight game (see last night) are frequently on display. However, the metrics are trending upward with Raleigh, which might help him snag a gold glove this year.

Statistic

2023

MLB Ranking

Pitch Framing

48.3

7th

Framing Runs

6

5th

Caught Stealing

21%

9th

Defensive Runs Saved

5

6th

He had a slightly better year last season when he gunned down an American League-leading 25 runners, good for a 32% caught-stealing rate. This season, he’s thrown out 18 runners and ranks in the top three in the AL in that category. His elite arm strength is making up for a pop time that lands in the middle of the pack (1.93 AVG), but I’d argue he might be even better this season. Why? Because he is erasing runners at the most critical times. 

If you look at fWAR, which accounts for batting runs, baserunning runs, fielding runs, positional adjustment, league adjustment, and replacement runs divided by the Runs Per Win to display how valuable a player is to their team, Raleigh is in elite company. He ranks first in the American League at 4.0 in front of Texas Rangers’ backstop, Jonah Heim (3.6), and Baltimore Oriole superstar Adley Rutschman (3.5).

One thing to remember is that voters tend to remember signature plays when casting their ballot for the Gold Glove. They think about when the feat occurred in the game and how critical it was to the team’s success. Cal Raleigh has proven time and time and again that he is more than up to the task at the dish. This year, he’s showing that same aptitude behind it.