In a recent chat with Mets bloggers, Sandy Alderson was asked about Spring Training roster decisions, particularly the bullpen. Here was his response:
“I think the career body of work is normally what gets a player into camp who is under consideration for the first time or who is put into a competition. I think you have to keep in mind career numbers and trends and strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, you do take into account what goes on during spring training. It’s the nature of competition and the hope is that certain people will rise to that level of competition. But you cant let spring games dictate results entirely. You tend not to focus on the results in spring training but rather other things — mechanics, individual character, is there a reason to believe that a player is not pitching to past performance, is there some reason that he is not going to hit this year versus his career? So I think you do balance those things. But you’re right to point out that what goes on in spring training doesn’t always dictate the final outcome with those roster spots. We’ve got some close competitions here … in the bullpen for example, we’re trying to balance what we can reasonably expect based on history versus what we can reasonably expect or hope based on what we’ve seen in the past month.”
Which brings us to Blaine Boyer. The 29-year old is having a very nice Spring (0.90 ERA, 10 IP 1 ER) but that is completely out of line with what he has done in his six seasons in MLB. Lifetime in the majors, Boyer has a 4.63 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. How do the 10 Spring Training innings trump the 227.1 innings of previous work?
Yet people are going through hoops to try and get Boyer on the Opening Day roster. Why Boyer over Manny Acosta? This Spring has also gone well for Acosta, who has allowed 2 ER in 10.2 IP. Both lifetime and 2010, Acosta has been the better pitcher. Here are their respective numbers:
Acosta – 153.2 IP, 3.40 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 7.44 K/9
Boyer – 227.1 IP, 4.63 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6.37 K/9
Acosta – 39.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.53 K/9
Boyer – 57.0 IP, 4.26 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 4.58 K/9
Another thing upon which relievers are judged are inherited runners. Perhaps Boyer is better than Acosta in this department, which would certainly help his case. Last year, Boyer came on with 23 runners on base and 10 of those came around to score. That worked out to a 43 IS% (where the lower the number, the better).
Meanwhile, Acosta had 31 inherited runners and 13 scored for a 42 IS% or virtually identical to Boyer. For their careers, Acosta has an IS% of 31 while Boyer’s checks in at 43. If any edge should be granted in this category, it should go to Acosta.
If Boyer makes the club over Acosta, I”ll have to assume that his “mechanics or individual character” are superior to those of Acosta or that Boyer has taken some great leap forward with his stuff in the past month.
Regardless, it’s a question that should be asked by the mainstream media and answered by Alderson if the Mets lose Acosta to keep Boyer.