The time has arrived to recognize Jonathan Schoop as one the game’s best young players. He may be flying under the radar nationally, but Orioles fans know that they are watching a star in the making. He’s currently producing career-high numbers in all the key offensive categories – AVG, OBP, SLG and OPS.
And his skills are backing up his performance.
For the third straight year, Schoop’s contact rate has improved as he becomes more selective at the plate. His current 2017 walk rate is almost twice what he achieved the past two years, thanks to a more discerning batting eye for the maturing 25-year-old. He has walked 12 times and struck out 43, compared to 21 and 137 in 2016.
How ‘bout a double Schoop?
Let’s pretend this one time that Schoop’s name is pronounced like an ice cream serving instead of a mouthwash. Schoop is hitting doubles at an impressive rate. He is tied for second in two-baggers among AL players through Wednesday’s games and is fourth – just three doubles fewer than leader Mookie Betts - since the start of the 2016 season.
Johnny Baseball really started to prove his doubles proficiency at the tail end of the 2015 season. And he’s been on a roll since. From August 3 that year through this past Wednesday, Schoop has slugged 70 doubles in 1,032 at-bats – a rate that is better than seven of baseball’s top 10 all-time doubles leaders. A list that features eight Hall of Famers (all but Pete Rose and David Ortiz.)
Of course it’s too early to say Schoop is the next Tris Speaker (baseball’s doubles champion), or even fellow second baseman, Craig Biggio, who is fifth on the all-time doubles list. But with health and longevity, all things are possible and, for now, Schoop’s ability to drive the ball into the gaps makes him a very dangerous hitter.
His 91 career doubles by age 25 is far ahead of Biggio’s pace at that age. And Biggio went on to lead the National League in two-baggers three times.
Second to one
Schoop’s proclivity for hitting doubles is helping him become one of the league’s premier keystone sackers. Since the start of the 2016 season, only the Astros’ 2B superstar Jose Altuve has more doubles, by the slightest of margins – 57 to 56.
Schoop’s overall numbers place him among the top at his position and beg for strong all-star consideration. His .872 OPS is second only to Altuve’s .910, his 10 home runs are one shy of leader Robinson Cano, and his 31 RBIs are tied for second with Starlin Castro behind Cano.
So, then Schoop is among the leaders is All-Star voting, right? Well, no and it doesn’t look promising. He doesn’t even crack the top five, and he’s more than a half million votes behind Castro who’s in second place. Through Monday, the AL second-base all-star game vote leaders are:
- Altuve, Astros: 998,107
- Castro, Yankees: 778,699
- Jason Kipnis, Indians: 402,228
- Cano, Mariners: 248,739
- Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 213,804
Really? Kipnis with a .676 OPS and Pedroia at .749? We know fans don’t always vote for those most deserving, but maybe Schoop will receive consideration from his fellow players or AL Manager Terry Francona and be selected as a reserve.
At this point, it’s hard to argue that Altuve should not be the AL All-Star starter at second base, but Schoop is making noise and has a great shot at being named to his first All-Star game.