Tonight, for those of you able to get to T-Mobile Park by, I’m guessing, like, eight hours before the first pitch, the Mariners are giving away bobbleheads celebrating Cal Raleigh’s playoff-clinching home run. Let’s revisit that hit, shall we?
In the last decade, there have been roughly 23,000 MLB games. In those games, players have only hit 313 walk-off home runs with the batter being the winning run. Of those 313 walk-off home runs, only 72 have come with two outs. Of those 72, only 13 have come with a full count. Of those 13, just one was hit by a pinch hitter. Cal’s home run stands alone.
In the last decade, the Mariners have only hit 17 of those walk-off home runs. Of those, only six have had an exit velocity greater than 105 miles per hour. Of those six, only one has had a launch angle greater than 30 degrees. There’s been just a single moonshot walk off. Cal’s home run stands alone.
In the last decade, here’s a list of all the players that have clinched the playoffs on a walk-off home run: Cal Raleigh. Cal’s home run stands alone. But I’m guessing you knew that.
Cal Raleigh’s April was so bad that it got him sent down to the minors. He was only called back up because there was no alternative to fill in for an injury. In his first five games, he was 0 for 8 with 5 strikeouts. But in his sixth game, he homered in Queens to take the lead, and he never looked back, putting up a 131 wRC+ over the rest of the season, tied for third among catchers.
Handling the pitching staff and learning to hit MLB pitching from both sides of the plate is no small task, but Cal proved himself equal to it. It got to the point where Scott Servais couldn’t live without him in the lineup, often having him DH or pinch hit on what were supposed to be Cal’s off days. But he came through, leading the team with four hits, three for extra bases, and four RBIs as a pinch hitter.
It’s no wonder he was called upon to deliver in the franchise’s biggest moment in twenty years.