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Jonathan Schoop was up and down in 2016, but he was always on the field

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His hitting may not have been consistent, but his presence on the field sure was.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

So far in our series of positional wrap-ups, there’s been a little bit of a theme: nearly every position was manned by a whole bunch of a different Orioles in 2016. Nine O’s each played left field and right field this year. Eight pitchers started at least ten games.

Even positions with starters written in stone like third base, center field and shortstop were disrupted by injuries to the point where other players had to put in significant time.

That trend stops today. Orioles second basemen played a total of 1,432 defensive innings in 2016. Orioles second basemen who are not Jonathan Schoop played a total of three.

Until August 20th, Schoop had played every single inning at second base for the Orioles. On August 20th! He was subbed out that day for Ryan Flaherty when the O’s were getting crushed by the Astros. Flaherty ended up pitching.

Over a month later, on September 28th, Michael Bourn pinch ran for Schoop in the ninth against Toronto, and scored on Hyun Soo Kim’s memorable game-winning homer. Flaherty played second in the ninth. Those were the only two times Schoop watched the Orioles play defense from the bench.

That’s an impressive accomplishment, and it was looking even more impressive at the halfway point of the season. That’s because in addition to his durability, he was hitting the crap out of the ball.

Schoop hit .304/.338/.509 in the first half with 14 homers, and he was suddenly looking like one of the best second basemen in the game. Unfortunately, that didn’t last. His offense cratered, as he posted a second-half OPS that was over 200 points below his first-half output.

Schoop’s anemic second-half numbers (.225/.252/.391) led to an almost perfectly league-average .267/.298/.454 line with 25 homers for the season. The question now is, which hitter is the real Schoop?

Despite the wild swings throughout the year, Schoop’s final batting line probably represents his true talent pretty well. He had a .348 BABIP in the first half compared to .255 in the second half, so a big part of his drop-off can be explained by simple batted ball luck.

Schoop isn’t as good as he was in the first half, nor is he as bad as he was the rest of the way. He’s probably going to continue to be a roughly average hitter, and for a second baseman that’s not a problem at all.

There are also some encouraging signs for the future. Schoop’s 21.2% strikeout rate was the best of his career by a good margin (almost 4%). His walk rate of 3.2%, while still insanely low, is also - somehow - a career best.

If he can continue to improve his plate discipline, Schoop could be one of the Orioles’ best players in 2017. Even as it stands now, he was worth 2 fWAR this year. That’s production worthy of an eight-figure salary from a player making half a million. The O’s could use a few more of those guys.

Now, let’s talk about Schoop’s defense. After 2014, many of us considered Schoop to be an elite defensive second baseman, because, well, the metrics showed that he was an elite defensive second baseman.

Since then, that hasn’t been the case. He graded out poorly in 2015, and even if we assume some of that was injury-related, he was only average or slightly below average this season.

Sure, defensive metrics for a single season aren’t all that reliable, but we can’t just brush off the past two years. Schoop was worth 10 defensive runs saved (DRS) and had a +5.8 UZR over 1010.2 innings in 2014. Since then, he’s been worth -4 DRS and a -7.4 UZR in 2150 innings.

Both systems agree with each other here, and we now have twice as much evidence against Schoop being a great fielder than we do in support of that idea. The individual components of DRS seem to confirm the “look test”; Schoop saves runs with his arm and his quick double play turns, but gives many of those runs back with his glove.

The good news is that even if he’s an average or slightly below average fielder, his bat is good enough to make him a guy you want on your team. That’s especially true if he can stay healthy like he did this season.

Speaking of which, let’s talk a little more about those 1429 innings. It’s really hard to overstate how impressive that number is. First of all, it’s the highest such number in baseball this season - no MLB player spent more innings at their position in 2016 than Schoop.

Not only that, Schoop’s season is up there historically among second basemen. He played the second-most innings at second base in a season since 1992; only Dan Uggla’s 2011 season beats him in that span.

Going back to 1956, the first year for which inning-by-inning data is available on Fangraphs, Schoop’s 1429 innings are the 14th-most ever played in a season by a second baseman.

Of the thirteen guys ahead of him, twelve made at least 15 errors throughout the season. Schoop made eight. Only Bill Mazeroski has him beat, with eight errors over 1452 innings in 1966. That’s some pretty good company.

The bottom line is that Schoop’s durability this season was historically impressive, and it’s something he should be proud of. The fact that he did it while playing decent defense and holding his own at the plate is even better.

As other Orioles shuffled in and out of the lineup due to injury or ineffectiveness, Schoop was always there. Yes, his hitting may have been inconsistent, but his presence was anything but.