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.
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