I think we were all hopeful and pleasantly surprised when Cal Raleigh put together another good season for the Mariners in 2023. He was able to improve on his homer total, once again setting the record for most homers in a season by a catcher in Mariners history. He's not that far away from setting the record for the most homers by a Mariners catcher, which is actually held by Mike Zunino at 95.
Could he get there in 2024? It's a fairly big ask, and you would need not just a fully healthy season from The Big Dumper, but a uptick in homers once again to the tune of 37 to break the record. It would be a lot, and go down as T-19th for the most in a season by any Mariners hitter. STEAMER doesn't see it, but does see very similar power with Cal hitting 29 homers in 2024.
It's not the end of the strong prediction for Cal, as they see him setting a career high in RBI (81) and 2B (24) as well. Add in the fact that they have him at nearly the exact same slash line as 2023, .231/.304/.459 compared to the mark of .232/.306/.456 from last season, and it would be a great season for Cal, and one we would all be happy with.
Here's the question that I have though. With strong exit velocity and barrel rates, shouldn't Cal see an uptick in his BABIP? Usually, the harder you hit the ball, the more likely it is to fall for a base hit. In 2023, Cal had a BABIP of just .273, 20 points or so below league average. I know he's slow, so maybe it should put him near league average instead, but they actually see it dropping to .266 this upcoming season.
Is it a case of bad luck? Does his slow speed really play that much of a part in the low number? Or, if we see Cal get hits on balls in play at a league average rate, could we see that batting average push to the 250 range? I think that makes a world of difference with how people around the league look at him as a whole. A catcher who is playing good defense while hitting .250 with 30+ bombs goes from a great catcher to one that might receive some MVP votes.
If STEAMER is right on the rest of his numbers in relation to a .266 BABIP, I think there is a chance that we see a "lucky" season from Cal at some point that turns into one of those special seasons. Pair that with the possibility of Mad Cal taking his frusturations with ownership out on the baseball, and it could make for a fun season indeed.