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Jonathan Schoop developing into best off-speed hitter on Orioles this season

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 22: Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a two run homerun in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 22, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD **
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 22: Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a two run homerun in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 22, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD ** (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images)

On a team that's known as a bunch of fastball-hunters at the plate, the Orioles' top hitter of off-speed pitches this season is someone typically thought to personify that skill set: second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

According to data made available through MLB's Statcast program, Schoop leads the Orioles with a .266 batting average on non-fastballs. He believes it's a product of his one true fault — his proclivity to chase out of the zone — which has given him plenty of opportunities to see major league secondary pitches.

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"I think they know how to pitch — they like to pitch breaking because I swing a lot," Schoop said. "I chase, too. If you make a good pitch, I tip my hat for you. But if you throw it over the plate, I'm going to put a good swing on it and put it hard in play."

Schoop's .266 average only places him 54th among major leaguers with 50 or more plate appearances, showing just how the Orioles as a team struggle with off-speed pitches, but he's done most of his damage on it this year. Six of Schoop's eight home runs this season have come on breaking balls, as have six of his 11 doubles. If you separate out changeups, against which he's batting .174, the results against sliders and curveballs are even better.

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Across the board, his off-speed hitting has improved. He hit .228 on off-speed pitches in 2015, and .180 off them in 2014. Even Schoop will concede that some of those pitches are mistakes, but his success on spin while still staying on time for fastballs is something he says is difficult to balance.

"Since coming up, I've seen a lot of breaking balls," Schoop said. "I'm trying to not miss it when they throw it hanging. I try to put a good swing on it, and try to hit the ball hard. The more you see, the better you recognize a pitch. It's tough. I'm trying to stay on the fastball but when they throw a mistake, put a good swing on it and hit the ball hard somewhere."

Schoop's background has something to do with that. Baseball season for youth players in his native Curacao isn't terribly long, and his first real time seeing breaking pitches and change-ups came when he hit the ranks of affiliated baseball in the United States.

"We didn't play baseball much," Schoop said. "The season was like 16 games, 20 games, something like that. And they throw a lot of fastballs. You become a really good fastball hitter, then when you come here you have to make adjustments because they all have changeups, curveballs, everything. That's why baseball's tough, you've got to make adjustments."

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