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5 Reasons to Buy High on Jonathan Schoop

Due to increased coverage, it’s difficult to identify trade targets. Deluged by the “buy low and sell high” angles published weekly, fantasy owners who put in the time understand the concept. However, fantasy owners need to recognize when a player’s breakout may be for real. In this instance, one may perceive his player as a sell high option, making for an interesting target in trades.

Last year, only two second basemen scored at least 90 runs, hit 30 or more home runs, and drove in more than 90: Robinson Cano and Brian Dozier. Through 66 games, Jonathan Schoop is pacing towards 93 runs, 31 home runs, and 98 RBI with a .289/.343/.533 slash line. He’s not universally owned despite the improved average and recent power spike. Here’s five reasons he should be on your radar.

Jonathan Schoop’s 2017 pace is supported by last year’s data

When a player like Schoop, who’s shown power in the past, breaks out to start a season, most dismiss it to a hot streak or the inevitable regression to the mean. While this can be applicable, over the last 365 days, Schoop’s produced 95 runs, 28 home runs, and 86 RBI with a .277/.318/.484 line. This could put him just short of the reference point above in two categories, but they’re so close.

Seeing the production dating back to last season and carrying over to 2017 should assuage fantasy owners’ fears, especially in relation to the batting average. Schoop’s value increases if he can maintain an average in the .275-to-.285 range going forward.

Improved plate discipline

Using this year’s data, Schoop is on track to improve his walk percentage and decrease his strikeout rate in three seasons straight. Going back to his full season debut in 2014, Schoop’s 2.4 walk percentage exemplified his lack of patience, but it’s risen to six percent this year. Not bad, but not enough to sell anyone about seeing the ball better.

Delving a bit deeper, Schoop’s swings at pitches outside the strike zone and swinging strike rates provide much more hope. Last year, Schoop swung at balls outside the zone 43 percent of the time. Through his first 66 game this year, he’s cut it by over eight percent. Schoop has also reduced his swinging strike percentage by over three percent. Both hint at growth.

Batted ball data

Schoop’s numbers in regards to batted balls in play seem to vary year-to-year. With the increased power this year, he’s pulling the ball more like he did during his rookie season in 2014. Schoop’s pull percentage as a rookie (49.7 percent) has yet to be achieved since then, but he’s pulling the ball 48.2 percent of the time this year. Although Schoop hasn’t been a hard contact Statcast hero, his hard contact rate is up to 33 percent this year, representing his highest total since 2015 (35.8 percent).[the_ad id=”384″]

If there’s one area of improvement left for Schoop, it’s to cut down his infield flyball rate, which sits at just over 20 percent this season. Sacrificing at-bats with pop-ups hurts a player’s average and reduces hard contact percentages. His career total of 15 percent suggests it’s a problem area.

Average gains without BABIP fluctuation

For flawed power hitters to show gains in average, often they benefit from an unusual spike in BABIP. Schoop has raised his average by over 15 points compared to last year, but it’s within nine points from his 2015 total, which resulted in a .279 average. This suggests Schoop may have been consolidating his skills last year, culminating in the improved rates to start this season. Remember, he will not turn 26 until October.

Gains against southpaws

In what may be the final frontier of Schoop’s potential breakout season, he’s hitting left-handed pitchers this year. Last season, he finished with a .243/.276/.412 line against them. However, this year Schoop is off to a .270/.349/.554 start with four home runs and eight walks through 83 plate appearances. While this represents a small sample size, it’s worth tracking as the season progresses.

His eight walks this season represent 31 percent of his walks versus southpaws for his career, and averaging a home run every 18.5 at-bats against them would signal an important change to his power totals. Even with this year added in, his on-base plus slugging percentage of .655 provides much to be desired. However, his spike to .903 would be the exact type of adjustment necessary for him to reach the paces referenced above for 2017.


Taking the improved walk rates with a grain of salt and monitoring Schoop’s progress versus southpaws make him an interesting case study for the rest of the season. Power does not seem to be a need this year for fantasy with the home run spikes across the league, but a player transitioning from a power hitter with flaws to one with more run production and an improved average increases interest levels. Schoop still needs to clear some hurdles in terms of his overall development, but the power may be merging with improved discipline, resulting in a top-10 second baseman at the end of the season. Seeing if his owner views him as a “sell-high” may prove to be profitable the rest of the way.

ZiPS and Steamer rest-of-the-season statistics suggest Schoop regresses to the mean, but they do not account for the reduced swinging strike percentages or stable BABIP. Here’s to finding out if Schoop can outperform his current pace for 2017.


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