The Brewers recently acquired second baseman Jonathan Schoop from the Baltimore Orioles while surrendering incumbent second baseman Jonathan Villar, and prospects Luis Ortiz and Jean Carmona. On paper this doesn’t look too bad as Villar had worn out his welcome, and Ortiz is a fine prospect, but Schoop is, on paper, a quality major leaguer. Schoop is coming off his best season, a nearly five win campaign in which he also provided good defense at second base, and he had been average for the Orioles this year until being traded. He’s gotten off to a very slow start for Milwaukee, costing them nearly half a win according to WARP, and making Travis Shaw look like quick and sure-handed at second base. It’s possible that David Stears made the mistake of buying high.
The fact is that Jonathan Schoop has a lot of problems, and even if those specific problems don’t materialize, he’s an extremely poor fit in the current Brewers’ lineup. Let’s start with the Baseball Prospectus Annual 2017 commentary on Schoop:
“Of the 140-plus seasons that make up baseball history, there have been only 16 in which a player had at least 60 extra-base hits but an OBP south of .300. The thing has only been done 21 total times. Yet, four players did it in 2016 alone. Schoop was among them. His extreme impatience at the plate actually helped hold down his previously problematic strikeout rate, but it still put a ceiling on his offensive value. It’s hard to say how viable his hitting profile is. He relies on power for value, but doesn’t hit the ball that hard (171st of 213 qualifiers in average exit velocity). He doesn’t pull the ball or hit it in the air at an exceptional rate. Any time now, he could go from a hair above average for a second baseman to below average for just about anyone.”
What we have here is a player who doesn’t walk and doesn’t hit the ball hard. He has a knack for hitting home runs for the moment, but this profile strikes me as one that pitchers will figure out pretty quickly, and that, along with simple regression, is probably why his OBP tanked from .338 last season, to .273 this season. .273 is absurdly low even for Schoop, but it’s also closer to his career norm than .338.
Some might argue that even a pre-2017 version of Schoop, typically a one WARP player, would be an improvement over what the Brewers were getting offensively at shortstop and at the keystone, but that’s not necessarily the case. For one thing, the Brewers could use a right-handed bat. Between Yelich, Shaw, Thames, and Moustakas, the majority of offensive pop on the team comes from the left side. Schoop is, technically, a right-handed bat, but he happens to have odd reverse platoon splits both this season, and over the course of his career.
V. LHP – .652
V. RHP – .706
V. LHP – .697 OPS
V. RHP – .758 OPS
This means that he can’t actually serve as a platoon partner for Travis Shaw at second base, and while you can theoretically play him at shortstop, that defensive alignment is terrifying. Schoop isn’t a shortstop, and the dropoff defensively from Arcia to a career second baseman is staggering. If you were looking for someone to serve as the short side of a platoon with Shaw, you already had this guy:
V. LHP – .956
V. RHP – .666
V.LHP – .767 OPS
V. RHP – .701 OPS
Theoretically he could be an upgrade for Arcia as Arcia’s offense has been absolutely putrid this season. The Brewer pitching staff is flyball-heavy, and shifting reduces the need for fielders with good range. That is all quite possibly true. It’s also the case that against left-handed pitching, Hernan Perez is almost certainly a superior option both offensively and defensively, as he has posted an .832 OPS against lefties this season, and unlike Schoop, has played some shortstop recently and competently.
The only place he theoretically fits into the lineup is at shortstop against right-handed pitching, but the lineup doesn’t really need help against righties, and plugging that square peg into this round hole just to get a minor same side platoon offensive boost while sacrificing huge amounts of defense, is a whole lot of bother with very little benefit.
Hopefully Schoop turns it around as he seems like a nice enough player and it’s no fun to see anyone on the team struggle to this extent, but Schoop has a weird, easily defeatable skillset and doesn’t fit neatly on the current team. They still could use a right-handed bat, and if one happens to pass through on waivers, it could be a short stay for Schoop.