What is Jonathan Schoop’s Value? (Fantasy Baseball)
Jonathan Schoop had a major break out in 2017 hitting 32 HRs, driving in 105 runs and hitting a solid .293 average. He’s only 26 years old and has improved on a solid 2016 campaign by hitting the ball significantly harder with a jump of nearly 10 percent HH% and increased his HR/FB ratio by nearly three percent. The strikeout rate remained right around league average at 21 percent and his walk rate “improved” to just over five percent. His current ADP is in the mid-50s per Fantrax.com around guys like Justin Upton, Daniel Murphy, A.J. Pollock, and Elvis Andrus. At first, it seems like he’s being undervalued because his line from 2017 should put him inside the top 25 for hitters, but we need to dig deeper to figure out how legitimate that breakout was last year.
Plate Discipline and Approach
A quick look at his plate discipline shows that Schoop is an absolute free swinger with swing rates in the area of Rougned Odor and Javier Baez! Those swings have resulted in well below average contact rates under 74% where the average is 80%. The good news for Javy and Rougned is they have a little bit of speed, something Schoop lacks based on his six career steals and sub 2.5 speed score per FanGraphs.
Ok, so now you’re banking on power and a high BABIP for your value from Schoop. Otherwise, you could end up with a season like Odor’s 2017 without the speed as an absolute floor. Yikes, let’s not go that far! Now, Schoop has had the ability early in his career to limit strikeouts despite the low contact and high SwStr rates which seems to mesh with fellow Oriole Adam Jones. So while I do mention Odor’s similar approach, I don’t believe Schoop would fall as far in terms of BABIP and batting average regression as Odor did in 2017.
I’ve noticed a couple of changes pitchers have made against Schoop. They are starting to take advantage of his aggressive approach evidenced by his Zone% dropping by three percent in 2017. I expect the Zone% to continue to decline in 2018, and Schoop will have to adjust. I see an increase K rate in 2018 as a result. Schoop did something many players have not been able to do and that’s hit better when shifted against. In addition, he’s had a better than average BABIP on ground balls without being aided by speed. Maybe he’s just good at beating shifts by hitting weak ground balls away from the shift, but I think it’s more luck that at some point will run out. Schoop hits under 10% of his ground balls the other way so he is a good candidate to shift against.
Batted Ball Profile
Checking his batted ball profile, I look at his IFFB% and well, it’s not good. He hits a lot of popups, 16 percent last year and over 15 percent for his career. Many of those are to right field; 31 percent of his opposite field batted balls are popups. That’s terrible and basically an automatic out. How about his Hard% the other way? Only 18 percent. Yup, how he had a BABIP of over .270 the other way I have no idea.
If Schoop decides to creep his FB% up to 40 percent (currently at 37.2% in 2017), to keep his power numbers up, expect a ton of fly balls and a lower BABIP as a result.
The improvement in O-Swing is a good sign. That combined with his 36% hard contact make Schoop a valuable fantasy asset at one of the more shallow positions. What concerns me is the .330 BABIP with a 16.0% popup rate which has been an issue his entire career. As I mentioned previously, as the BABIP goes Schoop goes. The main point of the table is to show how wild Schoop’s production can be in terms of wOBA with such a consistent batted ball profile. If you’re drafting Schoop, understand that 2017 is likely his ceiling and the downside could be .240-.250 with 24 HR and no steals.
2018 Fantasy Impact
That being said, I won’t continue to bash Schoop because after all I have him ranked around 75 to 80 overall. I’ll recap a few reasons why he remains a top 100 pick for me in 2018. The power is real, the park is great, second base is one of the more shallow positions in terms of fantasy, and if Manny Machado stays in Baltimore all year, Schoop should produce solid run and RBI totals. For 2018 I’ll give the 26 year old Schoop: .270/.320 27 HR, two steals, 83 runs, 91 RBI. Those are solid numbers but not worthy of a pick inside the top 60 overall. When it comes down to it, are those numbers all that different than teammate Adam Jones who is going 80 to 100 picks later? I’d much rather have Daniel Murphy or Brian Dozier as my second baseman if I’m picking one early or grab Ozzie Albies or Ian Happ if I’m waiting until after pick 100.