In their chase to break their single-season franchise record for home runs, the Orioles have a bit of an embarrassment of riches. Freaking Mark Trumbo has 30 home runs and a 136 wRC+, the latter tied for second on the team over a smaller sample size from Hyun-soo Kim.
However, sitting above Trumbo on the Orioles' fWAR leaderboard is Jonathan Schoop, the second baseman. Schoop's .218 ISO trails Daniel Murphy and Robinson Cano among 2B (Matt Carpenter does not count). It's not too bad when those two are the only ones ahead of you on a leaderboard.
Despite achieving a .200+ ISO last year, it's still a bit of a surprise that it's happening again this year. Schoop has a career 3.0 percent walk rate and 23.5 percent strikeout rate, both the result of poor plate discipline. You would be forgiven for believing his 112 wRC+ last year was rather BABIP-fueled. Schoop never showed much power in the minor leagues. It's surprising, is all.
Despite the poor plate discipline, Schoop has managed to improve his strikeout rate this year. That's entirely the result of him making less contact on pitches outside the zone and more contact on pitches inside the zone. If you're going to swing a bunch, you might as well make contact with pitches that are more likely to go for solid contact. His hard-hit rate is down from last year, but his IFFB percent is also down. Overall, his batted ball distribution is about the same as last year, and it's a distribution made for Camden.
This results in a BABIP that has remained about the same (only six points higher this year), but there are now more balls in play for Schoop to work his magic for a higher AVG and OBP. He's not entirely a product of Camden, though - last year, there was a huge home/road split (163 wRC+ home vs 73 wRC+ away), but that split this year has narrowed quite a bit (134 wRC+ home vs. 105 wRC+ away). Regression in action!
With 17 home runs, Schoop is merely tied for fourth with Adam Jones in Oriole player dingers. However, Schoop turns a sweet, sweet double play. The consistent, powerful offensive output is a pretty nice bonus.
Kevin Ruprecht is the Managing Editor of Beyond the Box Score and writes at Royals Review.
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