Jonathan Schoop had a career year for the Orioles last season. But, can fantasy owners trust him heading into 2017?
The second base position in fantasy baseball all of a sudden looks like one of the deepest talent pools than in years past. A large part of that fact is the development of players such as the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop.
Schoop is one of the most talented second basemen in all MLB. On both sides of the ball, he is incredibly gifted and does not get enough national attention for what he does on a nightly basis. From a fantasy perspective, owners have always been intrigued by his raw power, which may be the best at the position.
Entering his third full season in the majors, he posted a career-best line of .267/25 HR/82 RBI/82 R/.752 OPS line in 2016. He played in all 162 games and was a large part of the Orioles success.
Let’s first get the negative out-of-the-way. Schoop strikes out way too much. It has always been a problem and the one area of his game that needs tweaking. He struck out 137 times in 2016, while only drawing 21 BB, leaving him with a 21% K rate and a 3.2% BB rate. Both were actually improvements from the years prior, but still not good enough.
The lack of walks kills his OPS. He had 64 XBH last season, yet could not crack the .760 OPS mark. If he could simply raise his BB rate to about 5%, he would see across the board improvement in his stats.
Now that the swing and miss tendencies are out-of-the-way, Schoop’s raw power is impressive. Over his 25 HR last season, he averaged 407 ft. per homer. When he connects, there is no question about where the ball is going. His Pull% was 45% last season, and even though his FB% was down to 35%, he was still able to launch enough ball nonetheless.
Playing most of his games in the bandboxes of the AL East help as well, only further buoying his value. His 20% LD, and 48% Med contact rates were subtle improvements as well, and he still posted a respectable 27% Hard contact rate. He had 38 2B last season, so it is not too hard to see why a few more of those balls might leave the yard in 2017.
He was also incredibly consistent last season, he notched at least 4 HR/11 RBI per month all season. There will be spikes in his AVG due to his strikeout ways, but that level of consistent production is fantasy gold.
The Orioles still have some holes in their lineup, but as it sits now, Schoop will be a fixture in the middle of the order. They will need him to keep improving and being a consistent run producer. A healthy season out of Adam Jones and a bounce back from Chris Davis, could help even further Schoop’s counting stats.
In terms of trusting Schoop in 2017, fantasy owners should have faith. The K concerns are there and are valid, but the talent and situation are both good enough to help maintain his production. Confidently target him next spring.