22 August 2017

Jonathan Schoop Is Not A Serious MVP Contender, And That's OK

If you dare head to the comments section under a Roch Kubatko or Steve Melewski MASN post, follow along with Twitter banter, or *shudder* read what fans have to say about the Orioles on Facebook, you may be aware that some think Jonathan Schoop deserves more adulation for his impressive 2017. Schoop, in his age 25 season, is having a career year. Across the board, his offensive numbers are superb: .302/.351/.538 batting line, .372 wOBA, 132 wRC+. He's already mashed 27 home runs this year (previous high was 25), and somehow he's walking 5.6% of the time, which, if you watched Schoop bat any time before this season, seemed impossible.

Unsurprisingly, Schoop's wins above replacement totals on FanGraphs (3.4) and Baseball-Reference (4.2) this season are far and away career highs. He may even end up doubling his previous bests, from just last season. This is what fans hoped Schoop could become, even if he does leave some things to be desired in the field (range, flexibility) and on the basepaths (he's not fast). Regardless, it's hard to ask for too much more from Schoop when he's hitting like this.

But just because Schoop has shown massive improvement and is hitting very well does not make him a deserving MVP contender. You may or may not have seen this tweet from a couple weeks back (or this recent follow-up) that, for some reason, compared Schoop and Aaron Judge by using some counting stats and other things in Schoop's favor. How many times have you seen offensive counting stats (with extra-base hits, even) listed without home runs? That's a little weird; I wonder why that is.

Anyway, let's take a current look at the American League leaderboard (position players only; sorry, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber), ranked by FanGraphs' WAR:

1. Jose Altuve (6.1)
2. Aaron Judge (5.9)
3. Mike Trout (5.6)
4. Andrelton Simmons (4.8)
5. Mookie Betts (4.6)
6. Justin Upton (4.1)
7. Jose Ramirez (4.0)
8. Carlos Correa (3.9)
9. George Springer (3.7)
10. Steven Souza Jr. (3.7)
11. Didi Gregorius (3.7)
12. Elvis Andrus (3.6)
13. Justin Smoak (3.4)
14. Jonathan Schoop (3.4)
15. Francisco Lindor (3.3)

Even if you hate WAR for whatever reason, this is a good starting point. You could argue that Schoop's place is a little low among the names around him. You could even argue, I don't know, that maybe Simmons and Betts and some others don't deserve as much credit for being outstanding defensive players (while still being good at the plate).

But I have no idea how you'd go about realistically placing Schoop above Altuve, Judge, or Trout. Sure, Trout missed some time, but he's still otherworldly and is always more productive than everyone else. His 198 wRC+ demonstrates just that. Altuve (167 wRC+) is a machine and plays the same position as Schoop. And to take this back to Judge, even with his second half struggles, his 163 wRC+ is still third best in the AL (Schoop is tied for 13th). All of Trout, Altuve, and Judge are getting on base at a clip of .413 or above while hitting for a lot of power. Schoop has the power part down (not quite as much, but still a lot) but has an OBP of .351. Can he increase that mark more without walking even more? That seems like a ton to ask for, but perhaps Schoop has another level.

That's not really the point, though. Schoop is having a very good season. He is not having a great season, and he hasn't been one of the four or five very best offensive players in the AL. That's not a knock at all, and every team needs players like Schoop. Usually, this type of thing for many fans just means they think their guy isn't getting enough attention. I don't think that's true, but I probably can't convince you of that anyway.


Unknown said...

Schoop right now is just 7 home runs shy of Judge whose average is almost 25 points lower than Schoop's. He may be walking more, but that is causing him to not drive in as many runs. Schoop has 98 RBI's (second in the AL) compared to Judge's 82. What is the use in homers if you're not driving in runs? Judge does have a 98-81 edge on Schoop for runs scored admittedly, however, with the guys that have been batting behind Judge all year like Gary Sanchez, Gregorius, and Hicks, it would only make sense that he would lead in runs scored. Not to mention, for most of the year, before the Orioles acquired Tim Beckham, the slumping Mark Trumbo, who now has a line of .239/.297/.409, was hitting behind Jonathon Schoop. Trumbo is known to be a home run threat, but he is still not an intimidating player, which limits the amount of good pitches Schoop gets to hit. I respect your argument and I do not believe that Schoop should win MVP, but it seems to me like the guy you mentioned on Twitter had a fair point.

Skull Kid said...

- Mike Trout has almost 40 fewer rbi than Schoop.
- Judge has been one of the worst players in baseball over the second half.
- The competition should be between Altuve and Schoop, which is pretty neat since they're both 2B. Altuve should be splitting votes with Springer. But I'd still give him the edge because it's hitting above .350, and basically does everything well.

Unknown said...

This writer is pretty off base. While I agree schoop likely won't win the MVP, to say he isn't worthy is insane. Schoop is top 10 in runs, homers, RBI, hits, and AVG. NO OTHER candidate can say the same.