2011 Season in Review: Manny Acosta

The New York Mets as a whole went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an on-going series, will analysis every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at reliever Manny Acosta.

In 2010, Manny Acosta was one of the few nice surprises for the depressing Mets. The veteran right-hander posted a 2.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 2.33 K/BB. Granted, his helpful .280 BABIP and more revealing 3.52 xFIP suggested regression in 2011, but then again, it was Manny Acosta. Good play aside, the Mets rolled the dice with the out-of-options Acosta at the end of Spring Training in 2011, and placed him on waivers. But on April 7, the reliever cleared, and was optioned to Triple-A. Hooray for Sandy Alderson!

After biding his time in Triple-A (1.77 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 1.59 K/BB), Acosta was summoned by the Mets in early June. Unfortunately, the reliever’s first taste of 2011 wasn’t a good one. Acosta was smacked around in the month of June, posting a dismal 9.35 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, and 1.66 K/BB. Despite the bad month on the surface, his 4.79 xFIP suggested his ERA was a bit inflated. And once again, xFIP proved to be correct.

From July onward, Acosta owned a 2.11 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 3.41 K/BB. The reliever also earned seven save opportunities, and converted four of them. On the season, Acosta hurled a 3.45 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 3.07 K/BB. On the surface, the righty’s 2011 was inferior to his 2010 production, but in many ways, his 2011 was more consistent and actually showed important growth. The 30 year-old dipped a bit in the strikeout department (from 9.53 K/9 to 8.81 K/9), but sacrificed some sitdowns for walks (from 4.08 BB/9 to 2.87 BB/9). In addition, while Acosta was supported by an unsustainable .280 BABIP in 2010, his .326 BABIP in 2011 was working against him (thus the spike from 6.8 Hits/9 to 9.6 Hits/9). And as beautiful as his 2.95 ERA was last season, his 3.52 xFIP correctly suggested a more human projection–which was true given Acosta’s 3.45 ERA in 2011. But unlike 2010, Acosta’s 3.60 xFIP in 2011 fully legitimized his surface statistics.

In regards to Acosta’s repertoire, the righty abandoned his curveball (worth 2.5 RAA in 2010) for a slider (worth 4.4 RAA in 2011). However, the pitcher saw his fastball’s effectiveness drop mightily, from a solid 3.8 RAA in 2010 to a measly -4.7 RAA in 2011. Lastly, Acosta’s change-up continued to be mediocre, spiking only slightly from -1.0 RAA in 2010 to -2.7 RAA in 2011. Despite the less-than-stellar showing in RAA, Acosta still fooled more hitters in 2011 (from a 27.7% non-strike rate to 31.9%), and even saw more wiffs in general (from 9.6% to 10.6%).

Considering the amount of injuries, trades, and at-times ineffectiveness of the Mets bullpen in 2011, Manny Acosta provided a decent amount of above-average relief. Acosta’s 0.1 fWAR doesn’t bode well for Sandy Alderson re-signing the reliever, but there’s a good chance the Mets could get away with inking him again on a Minor League deal.

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