BUMP AND STACY

Seattle Mariners catcher one of MLB’s ‘most underrated players’

Apr 23, 2024, 2:04 PM | Updated: 2:10 pm

Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh...

Cal Raleigh of the Seattle Mariners during a 2024 game. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Before the 2024 season started, FOX Sports released its list of top-10 catchers in MLB. There was one very noticeable name missing: Seattle Mariners standout Cal Raleigh.

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Raleigh didn’t crack FOX’s top 10 at the position, and he barely squeezed into MLB Network’s rankings with the ninth spot. That came as a surprise to those in the Pacific Northwest, many of whom have grown very fond of the fourth-year catcher affectionately known as “Big Dumper.”

Another person who found those rankings curious was Yahoo Sports MLB writer Jordan Shusterman, who joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Monday for a conversation about the Mariners and more.

“It would appear that even though players generally don’t care about those offseason lists, it would seem that he has taken that personally,” Shusterman said. “He has been one of the best catchers in baseball.”

Indeed, Raleigh has been one of MLB’s best catchers through the first four weeks of the season. The switch-hitting backstop is second among major league catchers with five home runs – trailing only the six of Salvador Perez, who’s played eight of his 22 games at first base or designated hitter – third in slugging and second in walk rate. He’s also been among the league’s best defensively, tied with the San Francisco Giants’ Patrick Bailey with a league-best 0.6 defensive WAR, per FanGraphs.

 

Raleigh’s talents were on full display during the team’s three-game series with the Colorado Rockies over the weekend. He batted .400 (6-for-15) with two home runs, five RBIs and three runs scored, including his first four-hit game in the big leagues in Seattle’s 7-0 victory in frigid conditions on Saturday.

This comes after Raleigh led all MLB catchers in home runs in each of the past two seasons.

Raleigh’s success prompted one Mariners fan on social media to compare him with the switch-hitting catcher many dub as MLB’s best, Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles. With one less game played and 16 less plate appearances entering Monday, Raleigh had produced nearly double Rutschman’s WAR (1.3 to 0.7), hit three more home runs and had an OPS+ 25 points higher (146 to 121).

There’s still plenty of season to go, but Raleigh is certainly making the case that he should be thought of as one of baseball’s top catchers.

“I actually had a conversation with someone in the Reds’ press box last week after they had just been in Seattle,” Shusterman said, “and someone on their broadcast team was marveling that Cal had these power numbers hitting in Seattle, understanding how hard it is to do it there on a consistent basis. But this is what Cal’s done, right? Two straight years leading all catchers in home runs, he did it in the minor leagues as well. When you combine that with someone who’s obviously still so valuable defensively, that’s what makes him one of the most underrated players in the game and clearly a very steady presence in every sense for this team when they’ve needed it.”

Listen to the full conversation with Yahoo Sports’ Jordan Shusterman at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Bump and Stacy weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

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