Jonathan Schoop with a June to Remember
Jonathan Schoop had a very important season in his career in 2021, during which he did enough to convince the Detroit Tigers that he is an asset worthy of a 2 year commitment to a Trade Deadline chip.
Schoop’s magical month of June was the main push for Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila to put ink on paper and buy Schoop next season instead of renting it.
Who is Jonathan Schoop?
Schoop will be 30 years old in 2022 and bring a lot of experience to the Tigers’ infield. Originally from Curaçao, Schoop was a long-time Baltimore Oriole who showed a solid offensive game with low power and low run and at the same time offered a good defense in the middle infield.
Schoop’s time in Baltimore peaked in 2017 with good counting stats of 32 homers with 105 RBI and an average of 0.293. All three are still career highs for Schoop. The season was also rated as a career best 3.7 fWAR.
The Orioles rebuilding was finally shipped to Minnesota from Schoop in a trade deal deal in 2018. Schoop around as a twin and put on a roughly league-average season in 19. Then he went to the free agent market with great uncertainty as to where the wind would blow him.
Schoop settled in Detroit late in the off-season before COVID brought the world to a standstill. A one-year contract with the Tigers led Schoop to a good performance in the mini-season. Schoop has slashed .278 / .324 / .475 in 44 games, which is good for 115 wRC + and 1.4 fWAR.
Since there was a lack of better alternatives, Avila Schoop added another 1-year trailer in ’21.
Schoop in 2021
The Tigers were perhaps the worst team in baseball as of April ’21. They started the season 9-24 and somehow it looked worse. Schoop crawled similarly through the ugly first few weeks. In 87 record appearances by the end of April, Schoop cut .198 / .230 / .284 for an OPS + of 47.
Then, when the Tigers got out of their death spiral in early May, Schoop also found a groove in May to hit .275 without power. But it was a sign that his bat was perking up.
Then the magic happened. The change in the calendar to June also meant that Schoop would unleash a reign of terror over his opponents for the next four weeks. He was possibly the hottest hitter in the game for a short while. Schoop would crush 10 homers and 8 doubles with 27 RBI in June. His slash for the month at 116 record appearances was a stuffy 340 / 0.379 / 0.698.
Schoop obviously couldn’t keep the June heater running … no one expected he could. Schoop returned to the roughly league average racket he usually was in his career for the remainder of the year 21 with a protracted slump in the first few weeks of August.
However, Schoop and the Scott Boras Agency were able to turn Schoop’s big month, solid gauntlet and feeling of being a “good clubhouse guy” into a two-year extension with Detroit. The Tigers opted for a 2 year / $ 15 million deal instead of buying Schoop for whatever they could get at close of trade.
Jonathan Schoop’s future
Whether you think Schoop should have been dealt with by the deadline or whether it was worth the commitment of a two-year contract, it’s done now. He’s a tiger for the next two years. What can Detroit expect?
Schoop has a track record now, and it’s quite a long one. It was worth about fWAR 12.5 in 9 major league seasons. He’s going to have some hot streaks wearing the club and a few weeks of slack from time to time. Basically an average league guy.
Schoop seems to have an excellent chance of playing second base on a regular basis, although if Spencer Torkelson spends a month in Toledo next spring, Schoop could see some games at first sack again along with Miguel Cabrera. Schoop is a stable, albeit unspectacular defensive player with excellent arm strength for the right inner field.
It’s okay to be average. Every club needs a few as it is rare for stars to populate the entire lineup. The hope Detroit has to fulfill is to build a line-up where a batsman of Schoops kind hits the order down, rather than in the best spots near the top of the order.
Do the Tigers have to keep Schoop for the next two years? Probably not … but some people are really dying for certainty and hunger to see their rebuilding club begin to retain players who could be part of the next playoff push.
The Tigers no longer have to challenge themselves to get better on the second base for two years. You can focus on the diamond elsewhere. That in and of itself could make it a good move. If Schoop is threatened with a power surge after 30, even increases his walking rate by a few points, and remains a trustworthy veterinarian for the Tigers youth to rely on for guidance, Detroit could derive value from Schoop’s relatively cheap contract. They are more likely to get a smart vet playing for average money at a league average level that happens to get hot for a stretch or two. That’s not bad…
2021 grade: C +