As Schoop's strong week is recognized, he's settling into big run-production spot in Orioles lineup

Jonathan Schoop learned early in his major league career never to give too much attention to his own statistics — good or bad — dating to some veteran advice he received from Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy during his first taste of the major leagues.

"I'm not big about numbers," Schoop said. "My first season, J.J. talked to me, [he told me] try to be healthy, and try to do your best during the season and your numbers are going to be there. Don't chase the number, try to win, and play hard every day and try to stay out there for your teammates and when the season's over, the numbers are going to be there."


But after a week that netted Schoop AL Player of the Week honors, he couldn't help but take a peek after he was told about the merits of his past seven games, during which he led all major leaguers with 16 RBIs, a total that would represent a good month for many.

Every week of the regular season, columnist Peter Schmuck will grade the performance of the Orioles in five categories.

Schoop also hit .443/.438/.800 with two doubles and three homers during the week.


"I did [look] today," Schoop said. "Of course, sometimes you worry because you know you're not doing good, but I rather [not] see them. Like J.J. said, if you play the whole season healthy, your numbers are going to be there."

The Orioles have won five of seven games over the stretch, which is more important to Schoop than the award.

"No matter if you go 4-for-4 and you lose, it still doesn't feel right," Schoop said. "You go 0-for-4 and you feel better, but you know, it feels good when you're going through a stretch like that. You want to stay focused and stay consistent. That's my main goal, and to stay healthy and contribute to my team."

In the midst of the Orioles' inconsistent season, Schoop is one of the long-lasting bright spots. His 70 RBIs this season entering Monday night's game rank him third in the AL, trailing only the Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz (75) and New York Yankees' Aaron Judge (73).

"I think that would catch most people in baseball by surprise except us, [the thought that], 'Gosh, he's up there with those guys, and a really good week and he's ahead of them?' " Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Schoop's run production spike coincides with his ascent into the No. 3 spot in the the batting order. Schoop has hit in the bottom part of the order for most of his career — as most young hitters do, cutting their teeth before moving up — and the Orioles experimented with him in the leadoff and No. 2 spots briefly earlier in the season.

Showalter first put Schoop in the No. 3 spot June 22, and he's hit there in 26 of the next 27 games since. Over that span, Schoop is hitting .339/.373/.578, with five doubles and seven homers while averaging an RBI a game.

"Many times [bench coach] John [Russell] and I have thought about moving him up, and [hitting coach] Scott [Coolbaugh, too], it seemed like every time we did, you could see a little different approach," Showalter said. "They kind of put a little too much pressure on themselves. We found that this time, this year, he's been able to handle a lot more, not getting out of himself."

Showalter said Schoop has been able to carry over a newfound patience at the plate — Schoop said he and Coolbaugh have been working on limiting the number of pitches he chases low in the zone this season — into the No. 3 spot.

"Just his maturity," Showalter said. "You watch him quit on a lot of balls. His no button has gotten better. And believe me, when you're driving in 70 runs, third in the American League, you're not sneaking up on anybody. They're throwing the kitchen sink at you. … Jon, I remember talking to him about picking up those baby RBIs with a man on third and one out with the infield back. He's gotten so much better at that, where he shortens up, sticks his nose out there and gets those guys in. Those are the RBIs you really can't pass on. The really good RBI guys just don't miss those RBIs."

Schoop said he's tried to keep the same plate mentality as he's moved higher in the order.

"It's not different because even if I hit nine they're going to pitch me the same way," Schoop said. "Just because I'm hitting high, it doesn't mean they're going to throw me fastballs down the middle, but I think you get up to bat quicker. That's the only difference there. If you're lower maybe you have to wait two or three innings, but if you're top three you hit right away."


The Orioles embark on a road trip to Tampa Bay and Texas that ends at the nonwaiver trade deadline.

Still, Schoop's growth as a hitter is rooted in the discipline he's demonstrated. His on-base percentage of .353 entering Monday is 55 points higher than his career average, and with 62 games left in the season, his 20 walks are just one short of last season's career-high total of 21.

Schoop's .368 average with runners in scoring position this season ranks fifth in the AL — rookie Trey Mancini ranks first (.431) and center fielder Adam Jones is fourth (.371) — so he's been able to take advantage of driving runners in all season. But this past week's run production also coincides with recent production from the bottom third of the order and top-of-the-order reshuffling that led to improved production from leadoff hitter Jones and No. 2 hitter Manny Machado. Jones hit .419 during the past week, and Machado had a .320 average over the past seven games.

"That's why you have to give credit to your teammates," Schoop said. "Your teammates get on base, get in scoring position, and then you get a chance to drive them in. Without them, I'd be by myself hitting over there, so I've got to thank them to get on base to drive them in."

Said Showalter: "We've had some issues in our leadoff spot and Manny's had some struggles, so I don't know if saying moving him up has helped his RBI total. It has recently because Manny's gotten it going again and Adam's been good here recently."

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