Is Schoop the Orioles’ Best Second Baseman… Ever?
Jonathan Schoop’s career has gotten off to a rough start. He’s slashing .220/.256/.361 in his first full year in the Majors, which has caused some of my BSL colleagues to question whether he’s the worst everyday offensive player in the league. Maybe that’s the case today, but Schoop might be the best second baseman the Orioles have. No, not just right now. Jonathan Schoop might be the best second baseman the Orioles have ever had.1
What do you think of this year from Schoop, and what are you expecting in 2015? Share your thoughts on the BSL Forums.
Playing a competent defenseman is an integral part of second base, and one that many were concerned that Schoop would be unable to do. Funny how things work out.2 Schoop has been excellent defensively in 2014, while the Orioles are waiting for his bat to adjust to the Major Leagues. FanGraphs lists Schoop as being 7.2 runs better than average defensively this season, while Baseball-Reference measures his dWAR to be 1.4 wins.
Schoop is worth 2.6 double play runs above average, according to FanGraphs, and is recognized as part of one of the most potent double play tandems in baseball. His UZR/150 is listed at 10.3 this season, and while it’s not appropriate to put too much stock into a partial season’s worth of defensive metrics, I’m totally about to do that by telling you that Brian Roberts matched that just twice in his career. Roberts was worth 7.2 defensive runs or more above average just 3 times, in part because mounting injuries prevented him from playing enough to build up his value.
Roberts had a career 2.3 UZR/150, meaning that Schoop will have to be just above average in range and defensive ability to best Roberts’ play at second.
Thanks to reddit user /u/Pointer1VB, there’s a spreadsheet with every team’s leading home run hitter at every position. Pointer1VB even made sure to count only home runs hit while the player was in a certain position, so a Davis home run while playing DH wouldn’t add to his 1B numbers. Some of them are pretty funny, like Babe Ruth occupying both the left and right field slots for the Yankees.
Check out the Orioles’ second baseman with the most career home runs: it’s Brian Roberts, with 89. 89 home runs! Brian Roberts leads all Orioles second basemen in number of games played at the position, with 1,213. That’s one home run every 13 games. Jonathan Schoop has notched 12 home runs already in 2014, good for one round tripper every 8.4 games. At this rate, Schoop will reach Roberts’ total after 747.6 more games, or another 4.6 seasons. Schoop will have to play second base for the Orioles for just five years to match what Roberts did, home run-wise, in (parts of) 13. As he adjusts to the Majors, he might even top 89 home runs before his arbitration years are up!
Roberts has hit a career .276/.347/.409 while occupying an important spot atop the Orioles lineup. Schoop might not hit .276 consistently if he focuses on power, but his .268 average in the minors suggests that he has the ability to hit for both average and power.
Sure, Brian Roberts and Jonathan Schoop are entirely different offensive players. Schoop probably won’t add the base stealing value that Roberts provided, nor will he walk as often or strike out as rarely as Roberts did. Instead, he’ll bring power and, if what we see so far is real, excellent defense to the Orioles’ squad for years to come.
EDIT from BSL: Relax, we didn’t forget about Davey Johnson, Bobby Grich, and Alomar. Just a light-hearted article to look at Schoop’s defense this year, and compare his potential to Roberts’ tenure with the Birds.
1. I’m not counting Ski Melillo, who was the franchise’s longest-tenured second baseman in terms of seasons played, because he was technically a St. Louis Brown. He was pretty good though.
2. Wieters was supposed to be an offensive prodigy and a defensive liability too.