At the beginning of the 2014 season, the Baltimore Orioles were forced to play both Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop at third base with Manny Machado on the disabled list. Once Machado returned, Schoop was able to play his natural position of second base with regularity and he is shining defensively.
On the season, Schoop has a .968 fielding percentage and five errors, which are not jump off the page great numbers, but if you look a little deeper, you will see that four of those errors came when he was playing third base, and Jonathan has committed just one error in 115 chances when playing second base.
Schoop, along with one error, boasts a .991 fielding percentage when playing second base, which is a great number to see.
Now it's time to get all sabremetric on you here. Schoop has a 5.61 range factor per nine innings played at second base and a 5.18 range factor per game. The league average range factor per nine innings played at second base is 4.59 and the league range factor per game at second base is 4.57. Thus, Schoop is performing drastically better defensively at second base than the league averages in both range factor per nine innings and range factor per game. Oh by the way, Schoop's .991 fielding percentage is higher than the league average fielding percentage of .988.
So how does Schoop compare to the rest of baseball? Among players who have played at least 20 games at second base this season, Schoop has the second highest range factor per game (5.18) in all of baseball behind only the Chicago White Sox Gordon Beckham. In fact, Schoop has committed just one error to Beckham's two, although Beckham has 19 more chances at second base than Schoop has had.
The most encouraging part, even though his numbers are quite encouraging in themselves, is the fact that his mechanics are superb. When you watch a game such as last night, yes, Schoop made a nice leaping grab on a line drive, but his foot work around the bag at second base when turning a double play is phenomenal and he gets rid of the ball extremely quick as well, not to mention he has a very strong arm to boot.
Many scouts we have talked to believe that Schoop, if given time to work on the craft of playing third base, could be a very good defensive third baseman, but one thing is for certain, he is proving to everyone that he is already a top notch defender at second base and has helped given the Orioles one of, if not the best defensive infield in all of baseball.
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