Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop is having the best year of his career so far, and he’s made some improvements to his approach to get there.
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop is having the best year of his career so far. Coming into today’s game, Schoop is slashing .295/.347/.540 with 14 home runs, 41 runs, and 46 RBIs, and it looks legit.
Schoop has made some adjustments to his approach, and he’s slowly been trending in the right direction the past three years, it’s just he’s finally seeing it come to fruition this year.
If there’s been one knock against Schoop, it’s been his lack of plate discipline. He’s never struck out as much as someone like Chris Davis has, but he never walks either.
During his first full season with the Baltimore Orioles in 2014, Schoop had a 25.4% strikeout rate (which isn’t good but isn’t obscene) and an absurdly low 2.7% walk rate. It didn’t get much better the following year, as his strikeout rate dropped slightly to 24.6% and his walk rate stayed right around the same at 2.8%.
More from Baltimore Orioles
- What other Baltimore Orioles Offseason Storylines will you be interested in seeing?
- Baltimore Orioles to Face Numerous Playoff Contenders Down the Stretch
- Baltimore Orioles Showing Encouraging Signs During Recent Wins
- The Baltimore Orioles and the Expanded September Roster
- Orioles Josh Rogers Expectations in his Major League Debut
What was the cause for this? Well Schoop swung all the time. He swung the bat at just about everything. Had he had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would’ve lead the MLB in swing rate with 60.8%. In 2016, he was second in the league in swing rate at 60.2% (and not surprisingly, he was just behind teammate Adam Jones who swung the bat 60.6% of the time).
He was also constantly chasing pitches outside the zone. Had he qualified, he would’ve been tied (with Marlon Byrd) for fourth in the league in highest chase rate at 43.9%. In 2016, he actually was fourth in the league in chase rate, at 43%.
And even better, he was constantly swinging and missing. His whiff rate was a ridiculous 17.5% in 2015, which would have lead the majors, and it was 16.2% last year, third-highest in the league.
“Yea, yea, we get it, Schoop swings at everything,” you say. I know, I’m bombarding you with these plate discipline stats, but it’s all to emphasize the improvements Schoop has made, and why I think what he’s doing so far this year is legit.
His walk rate this year? It’s nearly double what it’s been in the past, at 5.9%. His swing rate? It’s 50.5%, down nearly 10 points from last year. His chase rate? Sitting at 34.3%, also down nearly 10 points from last year. And his whiff rate? It’s sitting at 13.1%, down three points from last year.
If you look at his other hitting stats, everything speaks to what Schoop is doing as being the natural progression of a young power hitter making strides. His hard hit rate is up, and with it has come a rise in HR/FB rate and fly ball rate. Ground balls are down, line drives are up, and his pull rate is sitting at nearly a career-high. These are all good signs.
His BABIP is sitting at .330, which considering his poor speed, says to me that his average will come down a bit (I don’t think anyone sees him as a .290s hitter anyways). But what Schoop is doing is legit, and I think he can keep it up.
If he bats in the .270s the rest of the way and ends the year with 30 home runs, and 80+ runs and RBIs, I would not be surprised at all, and that’s a year that would make him one of the five-best offensive second basemen in all of baseball.