Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Schoop’s absence due to an oblique strain was a big setback for the O’s in the second half of April, especially with Luis Sardinas and Engelb Vielma left to man the keystone. Since returning on May 8, the Curacaoan has posted a .763 OPS, more than a hundred points higher than his mark from before he went down.
The bad news: that .763 figure is still well short of his breakout performance from last season, when he smashed 67 extra-base hits for a .293/.338/.503 line. Put simply, if Schoop doesn’t improve, the Birds will feel foolish for not trading him over the offseason.
The room for that improvement is certainly there. Schoop has never had a good eye, but his walk rate has plummeted this year, falling from 5.2% in 2017 to just 2.0% in 2018. That’s the lowest clip of his career, even worse than his 2014 season, when he slashed .209/.244/.354.
Schoop may never be a truly complete hitter, but at least he was getting better with each year. Given that he’ll be eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, the Birds must make a tough decision — they can either trade him this year before he sinks his value any further, or wait until next year and hope for a rebound. Expect his performance over the next few weeks to figure heavily into that decision.