In 2016, Jonathan Schoop should be one of the Orioles’ strengths. Quietly, he had a solid second half in 2015.
Schoop missed more than three months with a right knee injury, and in just over half a season hit 15 home runs and drove in 39 runs. His .279 batting average was a huge improvement over his 2014.
A year ago, Schoop ended the season with a .209 average with just a .244 on-base percentage. In 2014, Schoop struck out 122 times and walked just 13.
Unfortunately, that part of Schoop’s stat line didn’t change in 2015. Schoop struck out nearly nine times as often as he walked: 79 strikeouts and just nine bases on balls. He didn’t walk in his last 19 games.
Schoop’s season ended a few days early. On Oct. 1, he was hit by a pitch and suffered a bruised hand.
At season’s end, his hand was better and his right knee was examined and cleared.
Schoop returned from his knee injury on July 5. After the All-Star break, Schoop played every game until his hand was injured.
Most scouts are impressed with his defense though he made as many errors (seven) in 84 games at second base this year as he did in 123 games last year.
Schoop just turned 24 and won’t be eligible for arbitration for another year and for free agency for four more.
An industry source suggested the team try to tie Schoop up for the long-term, thinking that the second baseman is comfortable with the team and eager to secure his future.
After the Orioles sign some free agents, including perhaps some of their own, it would be a wise move to try and make a team-friendly deal with Schoop, a home grown product who seems to like his new home.