Jonathan Schoop swinging less and succeeding more as Orioles move him up in lineup

St. Petersburg, Fla. — Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop has had stretches like this before, where he has produced so well in the bottom half of the lineup that he's promoted to the top spot.

Yet something feels different about this year's sustained success as Schoop moved up to the third spot in the Orioles batting order Saturday, fueled by a searing stretch in June that brought his average up to .295 on the year.


"It's not always a pure walk," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's just Jon's not getting himself out as much. Like last night, he had a good night and his last at-bat he got jammed on a pop-up. And he was not happy about the fact that he had kind of thrown an at-bat away."

With Schoop, it has always been about his approach — even as a good breaking ball hitter, he often chased outside the strike zone and didn't even get into a position to do damage. This year, he has cut back on that significantly.


His 5.9 percent walk rate entering Saturday is twice what it has been in past years, and this year compared to last, he cut his overall swing rate down from 60.2 percent to 50.5 percent. He has swung at pitches outside the strike zone 34.3 percent of the time, compared to 43 percent of the time last year. [All stats via FanGraphs.]

"Not many people here get you out at this level," Showalter said. "You get some plus stuff guys that give you the 'Here it is' and try to out-stuff you. Most of the time, you get yourself out. Jon has done a good job of that this year. He's taken what they give him. He's got a nice calmness about him. He's starting to really figure out who he is and what he's got to do to be successful. He's been very consistent."

That consistency has made Schoop one of the most productive players in the game this year. His .295/.347/.540 batting line entering Saturday represented career highs across the board, with 22 doubles and 14 home runs.

Saturday was just the third time in his career he hit third in the lineup, with three hits in seven career at-bats there. He has hit more extensively in the bottom half of the lineup, with 37 games batting second as well.

But Schoop batted .341/.396/.683 in the first 22 games of June, and with the Orioles struggling for continuity in their lineup, Showalter chose to move Schoop and his hot bat up.