2011 Analysis: Manny Acosta

The roller coaster continues for Manny Acosta, whose MLB career has consistently been inconsistent.

Armed with a fastball that rides above 95 MPH with occasional tailing action and average breaking stuff, Acosta has a tool set that should translate to success in a relief role. But he is one of that strange breed of pitchers who are streaky; he can pitch well for brief periods, then falter into maddening bouts of ineptitude. Part of it could be due to mechanical issues, but insiders believe it’s more of a mental and emotional issue. In other words, Manny Acosta’s performance is directly tied to his confidence level, which is about as steady and predictable as early spring weather in Flushing.

Acosta began the season in the Buffalo Bisons bullpen but made it back to MLB in early June. His 2011 MLB season was very much like 2010 — uneven and marked by strings of strong outings that may or may not have outweighed the bad ones. His overall stats were a little worse in comparison to ’10, with his ERA jumping a half-run (2.95 to 3.45), a raised WHIP (1.21 to 1.38), and a lower strikeout rate (9.53 K/9 to 8.81). One thing he did improve was his walk rate, which was reduced from 4.1 BB/9 in 2010 to 2.9 BB/9 in 2011. But, opposing hitters took advantage of more pitches to hit, as batters hit for a higher average (.219 in ’10 to .269 in ’11), with more power (slugging percentage jumped over 100 points, from .328 to .430); batters increased their OPS against him from .636 in ’10 to .759 in ’11. Acosta allowed 9.6 hits per nine innings in 2011, compared to 6.8 in 2010. Finally, he allowed 7 of 17 inherited runners to score, or 41% — that’s bad (the league average is 30%).

2012 Projection

Overall, Manny Acosta was worse in 2011 than he was in 2010. Yet, in 2012 he could be given consideration as the Mets’ closer. Why? Because Acosta finished strong in September, gaining a win or save in 4 of his final 5 appearances of the season. The problem, of course, is that he could have merely been on another one of his streaks, brimming with confidence that fed itself over a two-week period. Can he keep up that confidence and performance next spring? It might be interesting to keep tabs on his outings (and biorhythms) as he pitches in the winter league. Personally, I don’t see him as a legitimate candidate to close over the course of 162 games. Maybe Acosta could fit into a St. Louis Cardinals-type situation, where the closer is whomever is the hot hand at the moment, but even then, what do you do with him when he’s not “hot”? His propensity to allow inherited runners to score makes it difficult to bring him into the middle of an inning, and his numbers could continue to worsen. Still, considering the paucity of arms in the Mets’ organization that can reach the upper 90s, the team doesn’t have much choice but to bring Acosta back in 2012 and give him a shot to win a job.

Read the 2010 Analysis of Manny Acosta

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.