The Mariners who aren’t getting the credit they deserve

May 8, 2024, 3:04 PM

Seattle Mariners...

Dylan Moore of the Seattle Mariners during a 2024 game. (Jack Gorman/Getty Images)

(Jack Gorman/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners entered Wednesday four games over .500 at 20-16, just one-half game off the AL West lead, and riding a string of six consecutive series victories.

How has Seattle Mariners’ Cal Raleigh become a threat from the right side?

A historic run of starting pitching and continued stellar performances from the bullpen have carried the team early on. The offense, however, has still largely struggled, especially star Julio Rodríguez. Tuesday’s 10-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins featured an offensive outburst that many had been waiting to see, and it was mostly players other than the well-known center fielder that got the job done.

After tying a season-high scoring output, co-hosts Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost highlighted three Seattle players who they think aren’t getting the respect they deserve Wednesday on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy.

Josh Rojas, 3B

Is it time to start calling last year’s deadline deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks the Josh Rojas trade? Rojas has broke out in a major way with the Mariners this season, slashing .345/.421/.548 with nine extra-base hits, including three homers, and eight RBI. He also already has two three-hit game in the month of May.

“He’s only gonna go unnoticed for so long, and I think we have to start with Rojas,” Bumpus said. “He’s been terrific.”

Rojas entered the year as the left-handed bat in a third base platoon with offseason addition Luis Urías, and the Mariners have stayed true to that plan. What the team wasn’t planning was for Rojas to be batting leadoff as he has since J.P Crawford went on the injured list with strained right oblique. Since Crawford’s injury on April 24, Rojas is hitting .400/.475/.714 with two home runs over 11 games.

Drayer: Mariners’ 3B platoon has taken off, and earned more action

“He brings a comfort level to the start of the game when he is in the one spot that I haven’t felt since J.P. was on his run,” Bumpus said. “J.P. was just single here, single there, double there and getting on base and walking, just on-base percentage going nuts. That’s how I feel about Rojas.”

With how effective Rojas has been at the top of the lineup, Rost believes he’s earned the right stay there.

“(He) deserves to be your leadoff bat,” Rost said. “Even when J.P. comes back, there’s nothing that Josh Rojas has done to not make him your perfect leadoff batter. … That’s exactly who you want in that position.”

Cal Raleigh, C

Cal Raleigh may draw a ton of respect and fanfare locally, but nationally the switch-hitting catcher doesn’t seem to get his due. Raleigh led MLB catchers in home runs in each of the past two seasons, and he’s doing so once again in 2024 with nine homer, which is also tops for Seattle. In fact, Raleigh’s home run total is just two of Shohei Ohtani’s MLB-leading 11. Along the way, Raleigh has become an outspoken leader for the Mariners.

“This is a player who commands respect so effortlessly from people around him and players around him, but hasn’t been able to do it nationally,” Rost said, referring to a preseason list from FOX that didn’t rank Raleigh in its top 10 catchers. “I get it because outside of (Baltimore’s) Adley Rutschman there aren’t going to be a lot of catchers that are commanding a ton of respect. There’s your Buster Posey once in a while, but it’s not a position where people are like, ‘That guy’s the hero.’ But he’s kind of been the hero for this team. You’d love for it to be Julio. I do think Julio’s the star nationally. Most fans outside of Seattle would be able to tell you what team he plays for. I don’t know if every single person would be able to list Cal Raleigh, and that’s a shame. That’s what makes the disrespect meter pretty high on this guy. He should be talked about as one of the best catchers in baseball, and he’s not.”

Raleigh’s shown his importance to the team with some clutch home runs recently. He hit the go-ahead solo homer in the ninth inning of Seattle’s 5-4 win over Houston on Sunday and delivered a mammoth pinch-hit grand slam in Tuesday’s 10-6 victory over Minnesota. The grand slam tied a franchise record with his fourth career pinch-hit homer, and it also set a new single-season personal best of five home runs as a right-handed hitter. On top of the success at the plate, Raleigh plays a major role as the receiver of Seattle’s dominant pitching staff.

Watch: Raleigh clutches up, blasts first career grand slam

“When you think of my 2000s (Los Angeles) Lakers, what players pop to you?” Bumpus asked. “Kobe (Bryant), Shaq (O’Neal), you could even throw like Robert Horry in there. The player who doesn’t get the respect he deserves in the whole thing is the point guard, Derek Fisher, who hit a whole bunch of big shots, who kept the offense rolling. I think Cal will exceed what Derek Fisher was to the Lakers, but at this point, he’s like the Derek Fisher.”

Dylan Moore, UTL

When Crawford hit the IL, the Mariners faced a serious question of what kind of production – both offensively and defensively – they’d get considering how thin the organization is on MLB-ready shortstops. Insert Dylan Moore, who manager Scott Servais recently highlighted as the team’s most improved offensive player this year.

Since Crawford went on the IL, Moore is slashing .243/.333/.459 with five extra-base hits, five runs scored and four RBI in 13 games, and he’s provided some solid defense in place of a former Gold Glove winner.

“D-Mo is that dude who runs down on kickoff and lights somebody up and gets the crowd excited,” Bumpus said. “… D-Mo’s a guy who makes a clutch catch on third-and-short to keep the chains moving. I love what D-Mo brings and he plays any position you want to play other than pitcher and catcher. Put him anywhere out there and he’ll be good to go.”

Listen to the full conversation 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

• What could be the issue behind Julio Rodríguez’s slow start
• Injury Updates: Latest on J.P. Crawford, Bryan Woo, Dominic Canzone
• Smoltz: How M’s pitching staff can learn from Braves’ famous ‘Big Three’
• What Huard would rather Mariners do before a Pete Alonso trade
• How Seattle Mariners’ Cal Raleigh impresses former MLB catcher

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The Mariners who aren’t getting the credit they deserve