2016 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Candidate — Jonathan Schoop
Baseball fans from the distant past brought a different kind of hope to Spring Training. With the rapid increase of free agency and international scouting, teams have a great deal more upward mobility than they used to. Sign a few key free agents and your team suddenly could vault themselves from second division to first division. Before free agency, that simply didn’t happen. Fans had to hope for improvement from within.
The Baltimore Orioles certainly added a couple of players (Yovani Gallardo and Hyun-Soo Kim) through free agency and one through trade (Mark Trumbo), but most of the high profile work came in retaining Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. Stability is better for fans, but when you are in the second division, stablility won’t necessarily lead you where you want to go. That is unless you get some existing players to improve.
For the Orioles, that has been accomplished through Manny Machado and some of their pitchers. They are hoping it will happen again with second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Like Machado last season, he is coming into his third full season and they hope he similarly puts it all together. There is some room for optimism when you look at the numbers and the growth from year one to year two. If that growth happens, the Orioles could be loaded offensively.
Where He Has Been
The progress is not necessarily noticeable outside of batting average, but the 2015 numbers came with 160 fewer plate appearances. So, the biggest area of growth will simply come from making it through a whole season. Obviously, that is a lot easier said than done and no one is really quite sure what will happen to his production if he does make it through an entire season healthy. That being said, he is the one Oriole capable of demonstrating the most growth from 2015 to 2016.
What Could Be
One of the difficulties of any projection system is balancing where a player has been in comparison with where he could go. Eternal optimists will see the growth from year one to year two and project similar growth to year three. Growth usually doesn’t happen like that from year to year. The curve is usually flatter with an occasional upswing as opposed to diagonal line shooting through the roof.
That being said, many of us that base most everything on past performance get blasted as well. Clearly, what happened in 2015 is much more relevant than what happened in 2014, but we can’t completely ignore that, too. Past is prologue as our elders used to say. These numbers are impressive in many respects, but I can’t help but think that most Orioles fans are expecting more. If he is able to stay healthy all season, he could certainly produce more.
The Rosy Picture
Again, the rosy picture is based on past performance simply prorated forward in 600 plate appearances. One would not expect Schoop to get to 24 home runs unless he is hitting better than .250. It should be noted that his horrible batting average in 2014 came about partially because he had a ridiculously low .249 batting average on balls in play. If that hangs around .300 he will likely end up hitting between .260 and .270.
Every era in baseball is unique. Baseball has seen low scoring eras before, but usually those eras come about because speed is more important than power. This current era is unique in that every position is capable of producing power numbers. So, getting 20 home runs out of your second basemen isn’t exactly rare, but is shouldn’t be ignored either. Schoop is not necessarily a starting quality second baseman, but he should be a nice bench piece in a standard 12 team mixed format.