2012 Analysis: Manny Acosta

How much longer will the Mets wait for Manny Acosta?

The strapping Panamanian with the 95+ MPH fastball seemed on the verge of being a usable, if maddeningly inconsistent, bullpen piece after two encouraging seasons in 2010 and 2011. However, he took not a step, but a giant leap backward in 2012.

Acosta’s usage in 2012 (45 games, 47.1 IP) was almost identical to his 2011 workload (44 games, 47 IP). The results, though, were an alarming contrast. While he allowed two less hits in 2012 (48 vs. 50), he walked ten more (25 vs. 15). And though batters were slightly less productive overall against him in 2012 (.748 OPS allowed in ’12 vs. .759 in ’11), Acosta allowed nearly twice as many runs, finishing with a 6.46 ERA.

One glaring characteristic we’ve always noticed about Acosta is his seeming inability to handle pressure situations. If you believe the “leverage” and “clutch” stats provided on Baseball-Reference.com, then the numbers support what our eyes saw. In “high leverage” situations, opposing batters mashed Acosta to the tune of a .926 OPS, and 1.028 in “medium leverage” situations. When he appeared in games “late and close,” batters had a .939 OPS; in tie game situations, .932; within one run, 1.026; within two runs, .951. The numbers don’t start to look acceptable until you track the situations in which the margin of the game was greater than four runs (which, coincidentally, were the times he was most often used).

There is only one mildly encouraging sign for Acosta going into 2013: he finished strong, holding opponents to a .148 batting average and .424 OPS in the second half / his final 26 appearances. Also of note, his ERA (0.84), batting average against (.158) were lowest when Kelly Shoppach was behind the plate. Coincidence? Maybe. Small sample size? Certainly. Can we learn anything? Not sure.

2013 Projection

There’s no doubt that Manny Acosta owns potentially filthy “stuff” — high-90s fastball, nasty slider, decent change-up, acceptable curve. However, he will be 32 years old next May, and if he hasn’t figured it out yet, he ain’t figuring it out. At best he’s a long / mop-up reliever who might occasionally be useful in matchup situations — though even that is questionable, as RH hitters generally hit him better than lefties, and he’s not remarkably more effective vs. LHs. Acosta is arbitration-eligible this winter, and I can’t imagine the Mets going through that process with him. He’ll almost certainly be non-tendered, and though it’s likely he’ll move on to another club as a result, it won’t surprise me to see the Mets sign Acosta to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. Why? Because it just seems like the Mets, for whatever reason, have a weird, unhealthy fear of letting Acosta move on.

See the 2011 Analysis of Manny Acosta

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.
  1. James October 22, 2012 at 8:33 am
    I’d rather wait for Godot. Also, it’s time to get a new pitching coach. Why? Because I’m tired of waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.
  2. derek October 22, 2012 at 8:41 am
    We get to see Beltran in another NLCS game 7…..think he will be looking for the bender tonight???
    • James October 22, 2012 at 11:34 am
      didn’t the Mets lose game 6? In any case, it would be great if Beltran was up with the game on the line. I think he will try to avoid any kind of 2 strike count :-)
  3. DaveSchneck October 22, 2012 at 11:48 am
    Joe,
    I look forward to your offseason analyses. I think whether Acosta comes back or not will depend more on what Alderson does elsewhere and less on what they think he is. His bipolar 2012 makes that evaluation much harder. He could be low cost, but is also out of options, which is not good for a mop-up, 12th man type. He should not be relied upon for any more than that. He could add depth for around $1 mil, but for that money I think it would be better spent on a veteran lefty as insurance for Edgin and Carson. They absolutely need two decent lefties next year or they will ruin another career with overuse.
  4. argonbunnies October 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm
    Not much point in having a guy on the roster you can’t trust in any sort of important spot.

    For lost-cause games, anyone will do, so whether that’s Acosta or not doesn’t matter to me. Someone with a funny name or cool hair or an entertaining shtick might be preferable. Anyone want to see if Nyjer Morgan wants to pitch?

    • Joe Janish October 22, 2012 at 8:02 pm
      Hmmm … What’s Rich Garces up to these days? (About 350 lbs?)
      • argonbunnies October 23, 2012 at 1:43 am
        El Guapo! I miss that guy.

        Al Hrabosky would work too.

        Remember Mike Fetters’ psychotic head-snap?

        Ah, the days when relievers did more than just cover themselves with tattoos and bling…

  5. Joe October 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm
    Cards haters should be happy unless the Giants really blow it. As to Acosta, he as Joe Janish notes, is okay in bursts. He will show something, lose it and come back in August or so when it’s clear the Mets won’t be going anywhere. He is an also ran. He should be able to serve that role here or elsewhere for at least a little while more.