Goldsmith: Importance of Cal Raleigh’s ‘remarkable’ year for Mariners

Oct 18, 2022, 11:10 AM | Updated: 11:10 am

Mariners Cal Raleigh...

Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh looks on during a game against the Texas Rangers on Sept. 27, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With the Mariners’ 2022 season in the books after a sweep at the hands of the Astros in the ALDS, it’s time to look back on the year this team and its players had.

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While players like Julio Rodríguez stole the spotlight at times, perhaps the biggest development of the 2022 season for the Mariners was the emergence of Cal Raleigh.

Affectionately known as “Big Dumper,” Seattle’s catcher was a third-round pick in 2018 and rose through the system quickly, making his MLB debut last year. That didn’t go too well from on offensive standpoint, and that was the case again in early 2022 with Raleigh being demoted to Triple-A Tacoma just a few weeks into the season.

He would get called up again in May, though, and he emerged as a key contributor for the Mariners, slashing .211/.284/.489 with 27 home runs and 63 RBIs in 119 games. Those 27 home runs not only set a Mariners franchise record for homers by a catcher in a single season, but it led all catchers in MLB this year. He also slugged a walkoff homer to clinch the team’s first playoff berth since 2001 and hit .500 with a home run in a playoff series win in Toronto.

Oh, and he finished the year with torn ligaments and a chipped bone in his left thumb. You know, the thumb that’s critical to him catching a baseball.

Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith discussed just how important Raleigh’s season was for the M’s during a Monday afternoon chat with Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

For Goldsmith, discussing Raleigh’s 2022 campaign starts with his early demotion and call-up shortly thereafter.

“To me, the part of Cal Raleigh’s story for 2022 that I hope is not overlooked (is) a lot of times when a guy gets sent down … they learn at the Triple-A level, right?” he said. “They adjust at the Triple-A level and then they take their adjustments and they bring them back to the major league level and they implement it at the highest level of competition. You assume there’ll be a rocky takeoff, but then hopefully they’ll get to cruising altitude and they’ll be OK.”

That wasn’t the case for Raleigh, though, as he was recalled due to an injury to fellow catcher Tom Murphy, which wound up ending the veteran’s season. That meant Raleigh had to return to the MLB roster after a very brief minor league stint and assume a larger role as the Mariners’ lead catcher.

“Cal didn’t have time to make all of his adjustments, and reset and regroup like a normal hitter would be able to when you get optioned down to kind of gather things up again and get better. He returned prematurely – through no fault of anyone’s – and then had to learn again at the major league level while, of course, owning the most demanding position in the game. I mean, to me, that is remarkable,” Goldsmith said.

While Rodríguez was the team’s MVP, Goldsmith said Raleigh’s contributions can’t be overlooked.

“When you think about where the Mariners would have been if Cal never figured it out and if he had to stay down for a prolonged period of time – and even if he came back, if he was at least just competent offensively but provided his defensive worth – the level of replacement the Mariners would have had would have been nowhere even close to what Cal Raleigh brought,” he said. “I mean, it not even close. And you can’t even fully measure what he brings with the pitching staff and defensively.”

Raleigh’s big bat gets a lot of love and attention, but he’s also a fabulous defender. Per Fangraphs, he was the third-best catcher in MLB in defensive runs saved and was 15th in baseball in that category for all positions.

“It’s really remarkable. I can’t think of another player that I’ve heard (Mariners manager) Scott Servais heap praise on unsolicited more than Cal Raleigh. He’s done it to J.P. Crawford a lot over the years, but Cal Raleigh certainly wore that badge of honor for his manager this year,” Goldsmith said. “Where they would have been without him, I don’t even want to think (about) because the replacement level player that they would have had for so much of the year would not have been even close to the impact on the overall game as Cal Raleigh was.”

You can listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Goldsmith at this link or in the player below.

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Goldsmith: Importance of Cal Raleigh’s ‘remarkable’ year for Mariners