Top 15 Mariners for 2023: Cal Raleigh, Seattle's newest hero, is #3

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

I could not say enough good things about Mariners’ catcher, Cal Raleigh! He ended the postseason drought, he played catcher for key games with an injured thumb, and his teammates and the fans love him!  

I do not like his nickname, however. When I first heard it, I thought that it was a reference to how quickly he dumped the ball to second base for outs. I then learned that I was wrong. I believe that Cal deserves a name that conveys more respect.

While fans only see aspects of players’ personalities, from all accounts, Cal Raleigh is a great person. Last season, he prepared well for upcoming games which helped the pitchers. He endured a great deal of pain to remain catcher as the Mariners finished the regular season and went on into the post-season. He went and visited the school classroom where students had chanted his nickname. Teacher Tim Rooney of Cascade View Elementary School had shown his students the Mariners’ 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays and then tweeted a clip of his class shouting “Big Dumper, Big Dumper!”

Raleigh hit the walk-off homerun against Oakland that sent the Mariners to the playoffs for the first time in twenty-one years; he ended the longest drought not just in MLB, but in three other professional sports as well. This home run was dramatic: ninth inning, full count, and then Cal and his bat hit the ball out of the ballpark! Not too long afterward, he made significant contributions to the Mariners’ Wild Card game wins against Toronto. home run of the postseason since 2001 when Bret Boone hit one.

Julio Rodriguez crowns Cal Raleigh with the Swelmet!
Seattle Mariners v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Mariners’ President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto said that Cal Raleigh has a high baseball IQ that likely comes partially from being raised by a former college baseball coach: his father, Todd Raleigh. “Cal’s dad is a coach, you can see it in the way Cal approaches the game. He’s always had an old school way about him that really is inviting to teammates.”

The Mariners drafted Cal in the 3rd round of the 2018 Amateur Draft. In 2022, Cal played in 119 MLB games, earned 46 runs, sent 63 teammates home, and did that with 27 home runs. He earned an fWAR of 4.2 from FanGraphs. Only Julio Rodriguez had a higher WAR than Cal on the Mariners, although Eugenio Suarez closely followed Cal.

Cal Raleigh is tough. He injured his thumb from sliding into a base in September, knew that there was something very wrong with it from the pain, yet did not have it checked out. From mid-September through the ALDS games against Houston, he played with this injury which could be especially painful with certain types of pitches. After the Mariners’ postseason ended, he had surgery, and is now in good shape for the 2023 season.

I anticipate great things from Cal Raleigh this coming year. He has earned the great respect of his peers, the fans love him, and he is a top notch catcher and batter. I look forward to more Cal Raleigh greatness!