By now, Mets fans are used to rooting for individual accomplishments at the close of seasons, rather than prepare for October baseball.
Just last year, Jose Reyes was chasing, successfully, a National League batting crown. This year, R.A. Dickey is shooting for 20 wins, a strikeout crown, and a Cy Young Award.
The tradition has a rich history, dating back to Todd Hundley’s 1996 pursuit of the home run record for a catcher, Craig Swan’s 1978 ERA crown, even Tom Seaver’s 1967 Rookie of the Year award.
So it seems odd that no one is paying attention to Manny Acosta’s attempt to be the worst relief pitcher since the turn of the 20th century.
If this seems like hyperbole, please consider just how close to history Manny Acosta finds himself. This season, Acosta has pitched 31 innings, and has a 9.29 ERA to show for it. Among relievers with at least 30 innings pitched That ranks as the fourth-highest mark among any reliever in either league since 1901.
The three ahead of him are well within striking distance, too. Only Darwin Cubillan’s 9.45 in 2000, Jim Brosnan’s 9.45 in 1954, and Mike Christopher’s 9.30 in 1996 stand between Acosta and the top spot. Those three all pitched right around 30 innings, so with even regular usage from here on, Acosta can top their ERA and beat them in volume.
Of course, if one adjusts for park and era, Acosta is already atop the leaderboard. His ERA+ is 42 in 2012, which is tied with Joe Gilbert’s 1972 for the worst mark among pure relievers with at least 30 innings pitched in the major leagues since 1901. Gilbert’s raw ERA was 8.45, but in a more pitching-favorable environment.
I suppose there’s no hope of the Citi Field scoreboard keeping track of this, which is a shame, since it could at least re-direct some of the anti-Acosta sentiment when he enters the game, among the history-conscious, anyway.