In recalling his earliest memories of Jonathan Schoop — and how far he has come since then — manager Buck Showalter remembers being struck by the second baseman's frame.
“Jon, for a while there was like one of those — you’ve seen the new fawns whose legs don’t quite support the body and they kind of wobble a little bit?” Showalter said. “Not that he wobbled, but all of a sudden, everything caught up.”
Now that it has, that powerful frame has paced the Orioles offensively over the past few weeks. After a 2-for-19 start, Schoop has used the ensuing 2 1/2 weeks to put himself on track for another prolific offensive season.
In Schoop’s 13 games before Wednesday, he drove in 11 runs with five home runs and four doubles, all while batting .356 (16-for-45) to bring his season average to .281. That his production has come at a time when some of the other cogs in the lineup are struggling has made it even more of a boon.
And the most intriguing part about it might be that the numbers indicate Schoop could be even more productive. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .265, down from .305 last season. Even if you normalize to the expected league-average of .300 and not Schoop’s past two years (.305 and .329), there’s a natural uptick in average coming his way.
However, according to Statcast, his batted ball profile projects a slightly lower wOBA (weighted on-base average) than he has, with an expected wOBA of .345 compared to his actual wOBA of .377, which is tops among qualifiers on the team.
And though it’s early, he has also cut down his strikeout rate from 21.2 percent to 16.9 percent, which is a boon for a player who sometimes gets into stretches where he expands the strike zone.
Either way, Schoop has ascended into a high spot in Showalter’s mind. When he discusses the prolific power of outfielder Mark Trumbo or first baseman Chris Davis, Schoop now gets lumped in.
“I personally can’t imagine — it may be frustrating for a fan at home when a guy strikes out or whatever — can you imagine having that type of power and that type of contact to damage ratio at your hands and you can’t get it to function in a given game or a given at-bat?" Showalter said. "I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to be able to hit balls where these guys can hit them and not be able to get to it.”