Cal Raleigh's 2022 season will forever be remembered by Mariners fans. It started rough for Cal, but he proved to be an important cog in the wheel that broke the Mariners long-time playoff drought. A season that saw him break the home run record for a catcher culminated with the biggest hit in Mariner's history since Edgar's double in 1995, with a walk-off home run to send the Mariners to the playoffs. How do you follow up a season like that? Well, it might not have been as exciting, but Cal Raleigh proved to be one of the best to do it at his position.
Cal's 2022 season was a memorable one, that on September 30th gave Mariners fans the opportunity to watch playoff baseball for the first time in over 20 years. Cal was figured to be a large part of the Mariners offense coming into 2023 after an impressive 2022 season. Cal did not disappoint, he was dependable, playing in 145 games, as well as elite both offensively and defensively.
We start with Cal offensively. Cal slashed .232/.306/.456 with 30 home runs (breaking his own Mariners record for a catcher), 75 RBIs, and a 111 wRC+. Cal was also able to reduce his strikeout percentage from 29.4% in 2022 to 27.8% in 2023, as well as increase his walk percentage from 9.2% to 9.5%. The Mariners catcher led all MLB catchers in home runs with 30 and was a consistent power threat. He also ranked 3rd in fWAR, playing himself into consideration for top 3 catchers in all of baseball and a huge part of that is due to his offense.
Cal Raleigh is an elite bat, but the most surprising steps that he has taken forward as a pro has been his defense. Raleigh is a pretty big dude at 6'3 and 235 lbs, and to see him move behind the plate, block pitches, and receive pitches at an elite level, has been a pleasant surprise. According to his baseball savant page, he grades in the 85h percentile for Fielding Run Value, the 87th percentile in Caught Stealing Above Average and the 85th percentile in the Framing category. Cal is a leader of this team and has really stepped up and seems almost like that veteran prescence you come to see out of guys like Varitek, Posada, Yady etc.
I would give Cal a A- grade for the 2023 season
I was going to give Cal Raleigh a B+ but his comments about ownership and going out and getting the "big names, the people that have done it, the people who have been there" made me bump it up to an A-, finally a player publicly said it! You don't have to spend money necessarily but go acquire some talent and don't be shy about it!
I think the Cal Raleigh that we have seen is about 85% of Cal's full potential. I think there is another gear there where Cal hits 240-250 and runs into 35 home runs, that's how good of a player we are talking about here. Cal is someone that, if he gets that next gear, could play himself into getting some MVP votes. That is to not discredit how good he was in 2022 and 2023, as he has been truly elite. I think coming into Cal's third season with the heartache of not making the playoffs, we will see an even hungrier Cal Raleigh that will command his pitching staff and demand excellence and hard work from everyone on the team.
Finally, here is Cal's 2022 home run to send the Mariners to the playoffs because I think that we all need a little bit of Good Vibes recently and it doesn't get much better than this. Go Ms!