What if Jonathan Schoop puts it together offensively this season?
Jonathan Schoop showed a lot of promise in his rookie campaign. The 22-year old Curacao native played a very solid second base, which in itself, was enough for manager Buck Showalter to write his name in the lineup every day. Schoop was widely praised for his arm strength, which combined with soft hands and solid footwork, made him one of the best in baseball at turning the double play.
He also showed some rough patches. Schoop was on the wrong side of the K% (25.4%) and BB% (2.7). To put that in perspective, Fangraphs places those figures somewhere in the “Poor” to “Awful” range. Schoop struck out 122 times in 481 plate appearances. His average was a paltry .209.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Schoop showed impressive power (particularly out of the second base position). He hit 16 home runs and 18 doubles. 35% of his hits went for extra bases. The damage part is there – he just needs to work on the contact portion of Buck’s famous “contact to damage ratio.”
The Orioles managed to win 96 games in 2014 with Schoop dragging at the bottom of the lineup. The question is: what if Schoop figures it out in 2015?
Most projection systems mark Schoop for a modest, but not impressive improvement:
We can’t pretend that the entire starting nine will reach video game stats, but what if Jonathan Schoop raises his average into the .260 range and hits near 20 home runs? What happens if his improvement results in the lineup turning over more often, in rallies continuing, in elevated opposing pitch counts?
Of course, I want to show that I can hit more for average… I like to swing the bat, but if I can calm that a little bit and only swing at strikes, I’ll be better. I’ll cut down on my strikeouts a little bit more. I think strikeouts are going to come regardless, but I’ve just got to swing at strikes.
So, back to the question at hand: what if Jonathan Schoop figures it out in 2015? For one thing, the Orioles will be that much closer to replacing the career-year offense Nelson Cruz provided last year. They’ll also have a lineup that can harass a pitcher 1-9, with no easy outs. They’ll have game-changing power at the bottom of the lineup.
Simply put: they’ll be much better off than they were last year.