New and improved Dumper: Cal Raleigh’s newfound power is carrying the Mariners 

Cal Raleigh has found power from both sides of the plate, and it has been a big part of carrying the Mariners early in the 2024 season
Seattle Mariners v Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Earlier this week, before the Minnesota Twins took the Mariners' lunch money, we talked about the stunning start by Josh Rojas and the implications of a potential all-star season. It cannot be forgotten that while Rojas is providing all the hits, Cal Raleigh has been providing all the power.

Through 34 games, the Mariners catcher is slashing just .209/.298/.452, which looks like your typical defensive-first catcher. What does catch my eye is the nine home runs that he's slugged. Cal is currently on pace to play about 145 games this year, which would put him on pace for a career-best 38 home runs this season.

When you consider the work Cal Raleigh does behind the plate, the way he manages this elite pitching staff, and his ability to deliver in the biggest moments, a potential 38-homer version of Cal Raleigh is arguably one of the valuable catchers, not just on the Mariners, but in all of baseball at the position. When you look at the current state of the position, other than Adley Rutschman, there’s not a better catcher right now. So how did we get here?

Cal has always shown an ability to hit the absolute snot out of the baseball, but what has changed this season? When looking at his Baseball Savant page, there's a clear indication that Cal is currently the perfect embodiment of the “three true outcomes” of modern baseball.

Looking at the bad, Raleigh is in the 10th and 6th percentile when it comes to Whiff % and K Rate. Much like why the Mariners as a whole are struggling, Cal is striking out way too much (thanks for fixing the strikeout problem Scott and Jerry). When Raleigh isn't striking out, he's either drawing walks at an exceptional 77th percentile rate, or he's hitting the ball to the moon. Raleigh currently ranks in the 99th percentile for Hard Hit %, and in the 98th percentile for Exit Velocity and Barrel%. Basically, other than the greatest baseball player we've ever seen in Shohei Ohtani, Cal is hitting the baseball harder than everyone else in the MLB.

Big Dumps from Big Dumper... from both sides?

A huge part of this offensive explosion? Cal has figured out how to translate his power to not just the left side of the plate, but also the right side. In 97 plate appearances hitting from the left side, Cal has a 94 OPS+ with four home runs and a double to go with 11 RBIs. In just 31 plate appearances as a right-handed hitter, Raleigh is smoking a smooth 193 OPS+ with five home runs and 11 RBIs. 

When you consider that Raleigh had only seven career home runs in 242 plate appearances from the right side, his smacking five in 31 is an unbelievable development. If Cal can be an impact bat from both sides of the plate, his value will skyrocket, and the Mariners will need to lock him up this winter to a massive extension. Cal is a fantastic catcher, and he will not easily be moved off the position, but with Harry Ford dominating in the minors, there’s a legitimate path where Cal and Ford can coexist in the same lineup, if Cal can be a potential 40-homer star, staying healthy and fresh as he splits time at catcher and DH.

In the present, this offense has been a dud, but Rojas and Raleigh have been the shining light to carry this carcass of an offense. It’s looking very likely we see both of them in Arlington for the All-Star game, and we may get to see the Big Dumper in the home run derby as well.