In my opinion, Jonathan Schoop has no business being in the major leagues. At one time or another, every Oriole fan has had this thought enter his or her mind. A mere eyeball test tells you Schoop is often overwhelmed at the plate. Now before I go any further let me concede that yes, Schoop is good defensively and yes, he can turn a really good double play; however, one does not get to and stay in the majors on his ability to turn double plays. But you have to be able to hit and right now, Schoop is not hitting.
So how bad is it for Jonathan Schoop? In all of baseball among every day second baseman Schoop ranks dead last in batting average, on base percentage, walks (he has walked seven times in 75 games, seven!), slugging percentage — need I go on? Okay, to be fair he is first among second baseman in one category — he’s grounded into a double play 12 times this year. Yay.
Jonathan Schoop also strikes out a lot. On the Orioles only Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, and Chris Davis have struck out more times than Schoop. It appears as if Oriole fans have given Schoop a bit of a pass on the strikeout stat. Fans know quite a bit about cheering for hitters who strikeout a lot. For two years we watched the strikeout king Mark Reynolds whiff his way through the summer. Last year Chris Davis struck out 199 times. Yet Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis could do something Schoop currently cannot do and that’s hit a lot of home runs.
In the current age of baseball it’s okay to strikeout, but if you strikeout a lot you better hit homers. Strikeouts with power have become an acceptable thing in baseball, but strikeouts without power is and will always be unacceptable. I mentioned that Schoop is fourth on the team for the most strikeouts, the three guys ahead of him (Jones, Cruz, and Davis) all hit homeruns.
No matter what statistic you look at, it is hard to make a case not just that Jonathan Schoop should be are starting second baseman, but it’s even hard to argue he should be in the majors. His offensive WAR is -0.2, which is to say he negatively impacts the Orioles offensively. David Lough is the only other Oriole player with a negative offensive WAR (even Ryan Flaherty has oWAR of 0.3). I don’t claim to understand all the advanced statistics, but when you check out Schoop’s advance offensive stats on Fangraphs and the advance stats show up as negative numbers, surely that is not a good thing.
So what to do with Jonathan Schoop? I am not proposing sending Schoop to Triple-A. I think that’s underestimating the seriousness of his struggles. I propose sending Schoop to single A. Here he would still be playing with players around his same age and I would give him specific instructions and goals on what to improve upon in order to move his way back up the ranks. Very simply to swing less at balls out of strike zone (he currently swings at over 40% of balls out of the strike zone), walk more and be a higher contact hitter.
This solution would be better for the Orioles in the long run as next year or the year after he would presumably join the club as a better hitter, and it would also be best for Schoop as he would learn how to be better hitter which would set him up better for a long successful career in the majors.
Johathan Schoop is only 22 and in all likelihood will turn out to be a very good player for the Orioles for a long time. However this is not your 2008 Orioles in rebuilding mode. Currently the Orioles are attempting to win the pennant and Jonathan Schoop is a detriment to the Orioles achieving that goal. Now if only the Orioles had a player at Norfolk to replace Schoop at second base; a player who can steal the occasional base and has an OBP over .400…
Image Credit: Keith Allison