Fantasy Baseball

A Big Ole’ Nope on Jonathan Schoop

During the second base preview podcast, I very briefly, but vehemently ripped Jonathan Schoop as a fantasy asset.  Given that I have seen and heard Schoop hyped as a potential sleeper and value through several other fantasy outlets, I figured now would be a good time to take a deep dive and explain exactly why I am so outspoken in my dislike of Schoop as a fantasy asset.

Admittedly, Schoop turned in a good year in 2016 with 25 bombs, a .267 batting average and 82 runs and RBI each.  Normally, a player of this ilk at age 25 with an ADP 170.92 would immediately set-off my sleeper alarm as it has for many players and experts in the industry.  Let’s begin there with the cost and why I believe, even at this reduced rate, drafting Schoop ends up costing you value at other spots.

At his own position, Schoop is going in front or near the following players: Ben Zobrist (170.43), Devon Travis (201.00), Logan Forsythe (230.15), Jedd Gyorko (245.59), Neil Walker (247.06), and Cesar Hernandez (297.79).  This is an interesting collection of players, which I believe needs to be split into two groups.  The first is lead-off or potential top of the order bats, which would consist of Zobrist, Travis, Forsythe and Hernandez.  All of these players will likely be hitting at or near the top of their respective lineups, while Schoop is ticketed for 6th or worse in the Orioles lineup.  All of those players will offer more in the speed column than Schoop especially Hernandez, who has 25 SB upside, while the rest are likely somewhere between high single-digits to double digit steal players.  Schoop is a near zero in the speed column.

Granted, Schoop does offer more power than every player on that list, but if power is what you’re searching for why not wait 70 picks and take either Gyorko or Walker, both of whom exhibited superior power to Schoop just last season – Gyorko popped 30 bombs (while also offering elite eligibility) and Walker was on a 30 homer pace.  Look at it like this – would you rather have (1) Kevin Kiermaier or Dexter Fowler (approx. 190 in ADP) with Neil Walker or Schoop at his price and Jacoby Ellsbury (250.57)?   The answer for me is clearly the first option.

Let’s take a glance from the pitching perspective.  Would you rather have potential ace Lance McCullers (179.87) and Neil Walker or Ian Kennedy (248.95) and Jonathan Schoop?  Once again, it is not a difficult decision, in my opinion.

Of course, the entire analysis to this point gives Schoop credit for his 25 home run season and a .267 batting average – neither of which is sure bet to stick.  With respect to the batting average, we first need to examine Schoop’s approach.  Schoop is an incredibly aggressive hitter with a free-swinging approach, which can be seen on the face of his minuscule 3.2% BB% from 2016.  As outlined in the chart below, he is above league average in every metric for the amount he swings:

  O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing%
League Average 30.3% 66.7% 46.5%
Jonathan Schoop 43% 81.4% 60.2%

Schoop is swinging at way more good and bad pitches than the league average and swinging on more than half of the pitches he sees.  Unless he completely overhauls his approach, there is little chance that he is going to develop any sort of walk rate.  Let’s see what the results are when he swings compared to league average:

  O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% SwStr%
League Average 63.9% 86.3% 78.2% 10.1%
Jonathan Schoop 55.8% 84.4% 73.1% 16.2%

So, we see that Schoop is near league-average although slightly below making contact in the zone, which is good considering he swings way above league average.  However, he really struggles and is well below average on pitches outside the zone – over 8% below league average.  This is why he has 16.2% SwStr%, which was top three in all of baseball.

Now, the devil in the details lies in the amount that he was pitched in the zone – last year, it was 46.6% compared to a league average of 44.6%.  Why would anyone throw Schoop a pitch in the zone when he’s shown a reluctance to walk and a willingness to swing (and miss) at pitches outside the zone?  I am certain that major league pitchers will pick up on this and send Schoop’s K-rate back near 25%.  I would add that’s me being conservative – if they throw him pitches out of the zone and he continues to swing this much, a 30% K-rate would not be surprising.

Of course, a 25% K-rate will reduce the batting average from .267 down to about .250-.245, which is still livable, if the power can be believed.  Before we look at the power, let’s also consider the batted ball luck.  At first glance, it does not appear that Schoop was the beneficiary of some obscene level of luck with a .305 BABIP.  However, Schoop was at or below league average in several key BABIP drivers:

  LD% IFFB% IFH% Soft% Hard%
League Average 20.7% 9.7% 6.3% 18.8% 31.4%
Jonathan Schoop 19.8% 14.3% 8.3% 25.4% 26.6%

As you can see, Schoop is slightly below league average in line drive rate and slightly above average in in-field hit percentage.  Let’s call those two a wash.  However, Schoop is well above average in infield-flyball percentage and soft contact percentage, while finishing well below league average in hard contact percentage.  These are not good indicators for BABIP or for Schoop’s power.

I am more concerned about the average than I am the power.  Although his contact profile is less than ideal, Schoop has prodigious power and even in a year, where he hit .230 or less, he would likely approach 25 homers.  In that sense, Schoop is sort of like some bizarro version of Dan Uggla, who never walks.

Simply put, I see very little reason to take Jonathan Schoop before pick 250 and would definitely take every single second baseman that I mentioned above before him.  I would implore you to avoid getting sucked into his upside without considering the severe downside he brings and the assets that you need to forego to take him.

My Projection for Jonathan Schoop: 149 GP, 67 R, 23 HR, 75 RBI, .239/.271/.452


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