Mariners' Cal Raleigh sneaks into the MLB 100 and has work to do to catch the game's top catchers

Mariners' catcher Cal Raleigh snuck into the MLB 100 rankings, slotting in as a top ten catcher. He's got some work to do to catch the game's top catchers
Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners
Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

One of the debates that Mariners fans found themselves having this offseason revolved around the catcher's position. Obviously, it wasn't about whether or not Cal Raleigh is good enough, he's established that he is. It's nice not having that question for the first time in a long time, too. No, the question was, where does he rank among the game's catchers?

Some think he is a top 3 catcher. I don't know about that, as you have Adley Rutschman and then another strong group of catchers in Will Smith, JT Realmuto, and Sean Murphy. A lot of you think that he actually fits in there with them, and is a top-3 catcher. Whether or not it's right or just homerism, he is pushing in on that conversation. The majority of you think that he falls into the next group instead, in that 4-6 range.

Mariners' fans have spoken, and they think Cal Raleigh is a top-5 catcher

MLB 100 ended up putting him as the 7th catcher, and you can see that they grouped them in to try and avoid a bit of consternation about who went where. You have Rutschman in the top 20, the aforementioned trio of Smith, Realmuto, and Murphy at 45,46, and 47. Then you have the brother Contrarii (not the real way to say it, but seemed fun) with William Contreras at 81 and Willson at 82.

Finally, you have Cal Raleigh down at 93 and Gabriel Moreno at 94. Personally, when they put them in a group like that, I would say that Raleigh is ranked T-7th, just like I would say Murphy is ranked T-2nd, even though he is technically 4th.

I think this is the right place to put him. Cal has a good amount of things that he does right. He's clutch, he's got power, he does a great job leading this talented young staff from behind the plate, and even though people challenge him a lot, he can throw out would-be base stealers with the best of them and actually led the league in runners caught in 2023.

It's the batting average and K rate that are worrisome, and holding him back. A .223/.297/.470 leaves room for improvement, although his average did go up 21 points from 2022 to 2023, and the K rate dropped by 1.6% while his BB rate essentially stayed the same, slightly rising from 9.2% to 9.5%. If Raleigh can settle in as a good defensive catcher who shows true power while hitting .245/.315/.480, he is going to jump into that conversation with Smith, Realmuto, and Murphy.

The power aspect could be a big difference maker too. His HR rate dropped by 1.2% in 2023. If he would've remained at the 6.5% he had in 2022, he would've belted 37 homers, 7 more than he actually hit. 30 homers from a catcher is impressive, but flirting with 40 puts off a massive vibe change for opposing pitchers. This isn't just a guy who can hit them, it's a guy who can punish a baseball.

Cal Raleigh made it into the top 100 for the first time. With a season like 2022 and 2023, he is going to stay there. All the respect to Adley Rutschman, who is a different kind of beast and will likely hold the #1 spot for years to come. With a bit of improvement from Raleigh, he is going to challenge the best in the game for the title of (2nd) best catcher in baseball.