There’s hot, and then there’s what Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop has been over his past 15 games. The burly, 24-year-old infielder has scorched major-league pitching to the tune of a .419/.446/.742 line with four homers and 12 RBIs. The hot streak and hot month of June have raised Schoop’s season line to .301/.331/.517 with 21 doubles, 13 home runs, and 46 RBIs. The power surge, combined with a continued maturation at the plate has helped Schoop continue last season’s second-half breakout. There’s a good chance no one in the league punishes curveballs better than the fourth-year player out of Curacao.
With the All-Star Game coming up quickly, it’s time to realistically consider Schoop a candidate for the American League. In any other year, he may have been a shoo-in to start at a traditionally weak offensive position, but this is not a normal year for second basemen in the AL. Jose Altuve has to be considered the leading MVP candidate, while Robinson Cano looks worthy of garnering a few votes himself. Those two are locks to be in San Diego, and rightfully so.
Behind Altuve and Cano, the second-base candidates begin to bunch up. Schoop, Ian Kinsler, and Dustin Pedroia have very similar numbers. Schoop has an OPS of .849, Kinsler .843, and Pedroia .814. Schoop and Kinsler have very similar power numbers, while Pedroia lags behind ever so slightly. Looking for separation between Schoop and Kinsler could come down to Kinsler’s speed and ever-so-slight advantage with the glove.
Another thing working against Schoop could be “Orioles fatigue.” Manny Machado will start at third base. Mark Trumbo, the league leader in home runs is another lock, as is closer Zach Britton. Brad Brach has been outstanding in the setup role and has better numbers than Darren O’Day did last year when he made the roster. There is a dearth of talent at the catcher spot behind Salvador Perez, and Matt Wieters will likely get a nod. Chris Tillman is another possible candidate. With at least seven viable All-Star candidates, it is likely the Orioles will suffer a few minor snubs. That’s a good problem to have for a 47-30 team.
If Jonathan Schoop is left off the All-Star roster, it certainly will not go down as a massive snub. Kinsler and Pedroia are both having excellent seasons and have more All-Star pedigree. On the other hand, it would be far from shocking to see Schoop suiting up alongside best friend Machado at the Midsummer Classic. He’s earned it.