Is Cal Raleigh AKA Big Dumper going to have another big year for the Mariners?

Seattle's backstop is still one of the best in the business. What should fans expect from Cal Raleigh AKA Big Dumper in 2024?
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Cal Raleigh was one of the most valuable members of the Mariners in 2023. He had the third-highest rWAR for position players at 3.2 and was a power bat in the lineup, in addition to his defensive duties behind the dish. As he heads into his third full season with the squad, can he maintain his overall productivity?

Last season, he slashed .232/.306/.456 with 23 doubles and 30 home runs. Defensively, he struggled with blocks but excelled in limiting activity on the basepaths (5 CS outs above average) as well as pitching framing (six pitch framing outs above average). FanGraphs projects him to be more or less the same, staying within the same realm for all major offensive categories. His estimated slash line of .231/.302/.457 and 28 home runs is nearly identical to what we witnessed this past year.

ZiPS and Steamer had similar projections with <.005 differences between their numbers and FanGraphs' overall depth chart projections. This makes sense, as Consistent Cal is still young and hasn't shown any signs of breaking out or slowing down. His offense remained more or less the same from 2022 to 2023, although he traded a bit of power for a slight increase in batting average and on-base percentage.

Defensively, he continues to excel at pitch framing while making big strides in his caught stealing ability, going from below-average in 2022 to elite in 2023. He's continued to perfect these skills in spring training and it shouldn't be surprising for him to have another great defensive year.

Seattle is blessed with having some of the best depth at the catcher position. Mitch Garver is a strong second option (although he is almost certainly going to spend the vast majority of his time at DH) and Harry Ford is one of the top catching prospects in baseball.

Raleigh is a valuable full-time asset at the position but the question for him is not so much "Will he be good next year?" as much as it is "How much longer will he be on the team?" With arbitration approaching in 2025 and free agency in 2028, it'll be interesting to see how the front office balances a reasonable payroll while avoiding crowding at the position. Nonetheless, Mariners fans should look forward to seeing another fruitful season from Good 'Ol Big Dumper.