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Don’t Draft Guillermo Moscoso

He’s in the news today, so it’s time to re-iterate an old meme of mine: Don’t draft Guillermo Moscoso. Just don’t do it.

Traded to the Rockies along with Josh Outman for Seth Smith, Moscoso showed some nice back-of-the-baseball card stats. On the other hand, his peripherals, along with his new home address, make him a definite miss in leagues of almost any type.

Moscoso would have been a risky pick even if he’d stayed in Oakland. He didn’t strike people out or get ground balls, so control was his only asset. Of pitchers that threw at least 120 innings last year (131 total), Moscoso’s 5.2 K/9 was 23rd-worst. That strikeout rate was gained on the back of a below-average swinging strike rate, too (7.4%, 8.5% is average).

His ground-ball rate? It was the worst in the league. At 26.8%, it was a full five percent worse than Jered Weaver‘s second-worst number, too.

The fact that Weaver has the second-worst ground-ball rate in the league does point out the fact that you can be “bad” at one aspect of pitching and yet be a good pitcher. You just have to strike people out and limit the walks like Weaver if you give up fly balls like Weaver. But be bad in two categories and you have to be elite in the third. Moscoso’s walk rate was 62nd-best out of 131 pitchers last year. That’s not enough.

Take a look at qualified pitchers over the past three years — only two out of 373 gave up ground balls on fewer than 30% of his pitches like Moscoso did. Kevin Slowey rode his fly ball ways onto the bench and then on to this same Rockies squad, making him about as bad a fantasy draft pick as Moscoso. Ted Lilly pitches in a nice home park to hide his flaw. The odds are significantly stacked against an extreme fly ball pitcher like Moscoso.

And now you’re taking a flawed fly ball pitcher to a park that suppressed home runs 10-11% depending on handedness to a park that augments home runs 13-17%.

Moscoso has managed to give up an average amount of home runs so far — his career .95 home runs per nine is almost exactly average (.94 HR/9 last year was average). But he’s done so while giving up home runs on six percent of his fly balls. The league average in that category is usually around ten percent. As he regresses in that category, more home runs will leave the park. And then a few more will leave the park just because it’s Coors Field.

Moscoso might not have a ton of batters on the bases when the home runs clear. He does seem to have good control, but he doesn’t get enough whiffs and grounders to make it work in Colorado. Make sure you don’t make a draft choice while looking at his ERA next year.