Last Thursday, Jonathan Schoop signed a one-year deal with the Twins, bringing him back to the American League after a short stint with the Brewers in the National League. After posting the highest wOBA of his career in 2017, his offense sunk this season, as his wOBA dipped below .300, thanks primarily to a dramatic decline in BABIP. Will the move to Minnesota help him rebound? Let’s see what the park factors have to say. Since h played nearly his entire career in Baltimore, amassing just 134 plate appearances in Milwaukee, we’ll keep the comparison between Baltimore and Minnesota.
Man, between the plate discipline metrics and batted ball types, there’s barely a difference between the two parks. Camden Yards (Baltimore) and Target Field (Minnesota) sport identical strikeout factors, while the walk rates are almost the same. Despite swinging and missing quite often, Schoop has managed to maintain respectable strikeout rates. How? Because he swings at everything! When you keep swinging, eventually you’ll put the ball in play, avoiding both strikeouts and walks. That swing at everything mentality is also why he rarely walks, with a career high of just 5.2% posted in 2017.
Unfortunately, the parks aren’t going to improve his awful plate discipline at all. Schoop has to improve those skills himself. There’s a lot of work to be done as it’s not just about becoming more patient, but simply making better contact.
The batted ball type factors are also extremely close. Camden is marginally more favorable for line drives, but not enough to really matter. Schoop could use some help hitting those, as he has generally posted rates below the league average.
Both parks are exactly neutral for pop-ups (IFFB), which means that once again, Schoop can’t expect any help trying to improve upon one of his major flaws as a hitter. He has posted an IFFB% of at least 14%, and as high as 19.7%, every season so far, which is just terrible. It makes you wonder how he has posted BABIP marks over .300 for three straight seasons before the .261 mark this year. This is especially surprising considering he’s not even good at hitting line drives.
Singles are slightly easier to record at Target, which is a positive, but the difference isn’t a whole lot. Any hitter though could benefit from more singles. Doubles and triples is where we see more significant difference between the two parks. For both hits, Target takes the cake. After three seasons of strong doubles production per at-bat, Schoop’s doubles skills declined this year. So a better park for doubles will definitely provide a boost. Since he has hit just two triples in his entire career and just posted his best Spd score of only 3.0, we don’t care about the better triples factor.
From a fantasy perspective, the home run factor is typically the most important. Here, we see almost identical marks, with both parks boosting right-handed homers. Schoop’s HR/FB rate has remained rather consistent, sitting in the mid-teen range his entire career. Perhaps another step up will occur at age 27.
Overall, Camden was surprisingly a neutral park in 2017, while Target was slightly hitter friendly. Because Target had better factors for singles, doubles, triples, and overall runs, it appears that the park move should provide a small boost in fantasy value.
Now the only remaining question is whether Schoop could overcome his below average line drive ability and penchant for popping up to rebound offensively. Since he’s been almost exactly neutral defensively in his career at second base, he really needs to get that OBP up to provide the Twins value.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.