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Jonathan Schoop’s season offers encouragement after a tough Orioles year

In a season full of disappointments, Schoop’s performance was a significant bright spot.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

If Jonathan Schoop approached the 2017 season with the mindset that he needed to have a big year to establish his long-term value for the Orioles, he certainly checked off almost every box throughout the year. The summer months saw a surge in production that made up for a slow September, but the year as a whole can be summed up as a massive success for the second baseman of the future in Baltimore.

No matter where you look across the stat sheet, Schoop essentially posted career-bests in every category. The home runs (32) and RBI (105) tell much of the story, but that end-of-year .338 on-base percentage speaks true volumes, especially for a player of Schoop’s talents. He made notable improvements where he needed to and deservedly was voted 2017 Most Valuable Oriole by the local media.

Month-by-month breakdown

Schoop tore the cover off the ball throughout the year and the final numbers obviously show that. What’s most notable though is just how consistent he was throughout the entire season. With a whole lot of moving parts and unpredictable performances that emerged in 2017, Schoop’s consistency was a bright spot in what was a tough year for anything to truly hit the ground and stay running.

April: .288/.326/.538

May: .263/.324/.424

June: .327/.385/.635

July: .343/.377/.638

August: .306/.349/.479

September: .239/.272/.339

An obvious dip there in September, but look at those mid-summer numbers! Schoop’s June through August was in MVP territory, and if it hadn’t been for a chilly end to the year, his final numbers would take even another step up. Those stats are simply encouraging consistency.

Boosting the OBP by hitting the ball hard

It should be noted that while Schoop did post a career-high on-base percentage by quite a good bit, he did it by hitting the ball harder and in the air more, not by walking much more (two percent BB% increase). Launch angle conversation, anyone?

According to Fangraphs, Schoop’s “hard-hit percentage” was at 36.1% in 2017 with his ground ball percentage at just 41.9%. Those numbers can be compared to a 26.6% hard-hit percentage and a 45.3% ground ball number in 2016. Does that mean he purposely adjusted and these results followed? That’s a reasonable explanation — as well is the idea that as he’s gotten reps in the big-leagues, he’s seeing the ball better and has matured at the dish. If the latter is the case, there are plenty of good things in his future at just 25 years old.

Regardless, there were clear adjustments in Schoop’s game this season. And considering he’s had just over 2,100 plate appearances in his pro career, it’s fairly encouraging to think about just how good he can be with steady progression over the next few seasons.

A continual bright spot

Of course, that’s the hope for this franchise — Schoop’s presence at second base for years and continued development. After this year, he’s become a legitimate cornerstone in the infield to build around. He plays an acceptable defense, carries a plus clubhouse presence and will without a doubt be looked upon as one of the team’s most consistent bats if all goes according to plan.

You can’t ask for much more from a second baseman than what the 2017 version of Jonathan Schoop offered. He provided results and continues to make it enjoyable to watch baseball. What more could a fan want?

For now, Schoop is a true Oriole if there ever was one. A few more seasons like this one and he’ll establish himself as a fan-favorite for life... if he hasn’t fallen into that category already.