Jonathan Schoop credited his selection as Most Valuable Oriole to the consistency he’s gained through hard work, and he vows to be an improved player in 2018.
He won’t rest on the honor.
Schoop batted .295/.347/.536 with 23 doubles, 18 home runs and 54 RBIs in 86 games in the first half. He’s batting .295/.332/.487 with 10 doubles, 14 home runs and 51 RBIs in 66 games since the break.
“Anytime you get an award, it’s something special. It’s nice,” he said.
“I just want to get better and I don’t take this award for granted. I just want to go in the offseason and try to be better than I was this season.”
Schoop’s biggest source of pride hasn’t been his RBI total, which ranks second in the American League, or his first All-Star Game selection. It’s being a constant presence in the lineup, a player the Orioles have grown to depend upon.
“That I was in there to help my team, contribute to my team,” he said. “I’m proud of playing a successful season without injury so far. We’ve got eight more games, and that’s the main thing I focus on.
“J.J. (Hardy) taught me that. Don’t worry about your numbers. Just go out there and compete and try to win and the numbers will be there.”
In both halves of the season.
“It was really important because last year I went down a little bit the second half and I learned from it,” said Schoop, who batted .304/.338/.509 before the break last year and .225/.252/.391 after it.
“My teammates helped me. Jonesy (Adam Jones), Manny (Machado), all those guys helped me to get better and I did get better. And next year I want to be better than I was this year.”
How does he intend to do it?
“Keep working,” he replied. “Go to the gym, keeping getting stronger, because the season is a long season. You’ve got to give your body power, so you go out there and work hard. Go in the cage and maintain yourself and get in a routine and learn what the pitchers are trying to do with you, because the first half they may try to do something different with you. And try to achieve your goals. See the ball and get a plan and do it.”
Schoop became a much more patient hitter, getting back into favorable counts and drawing a career-high 34 walks, 13 more than last summer.
“I think I improved a lot, but I think I have a lot more room to go,” he said. “I think I’ll be better next season.”
The selection of Schoop by the local media covering the team has been a foregone conclusion.
“To have that number of RBIs is consistency and durability,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Jon’s always had durability, but the consistency, he took his game to another level. He didn’t get out of whack for very long. I think he’s grown into a real consistent guy you can count on. He didn’t let at-bats carrying.
“When I see him 0-for-3 and walk in his last at-bat, I know that’s a real sign of maturity, because you’re wanting to make up for it in one swing. Some things that a couple of our guys haven’t grasped yet.”
Showalter elevated Schoop to the third spot in the order and was rewarded with a .294/.335/.489 slash line, 18 home runs and 60 RBIs in 82 games.
“We tried moving him up a few times and he kind of spit the bit, even going up to the five-hole,” Showalter said. “We moved him around some and we could tell it wasn’t in his best interest, which wasn’t good for the club. And there was some real mature at-bats he was starting to have, not getting himself out. Jon and I and Scott (Coolbaugh) thought he might ready for it.
“It was for Manny, too. Trying to give him a new toy. Jon didn’t miss a beat. He embraced it and ran with it.”
Closer Zach Britton received his stem cell injection today in his left knee and isn’t expected to pitch again this season.
“That’s a painful procedure,” Showalter said. “Got that behind us. See how that responds.”
Showalter said “there’s that possibility” when asked whether Britton could get into a game, but he hasn’t conceded a playoff spot.
“Is it realistic? I don’t want to handicap it,” Showalter said. “We’ve talked about it. We’re going to proceed like, OK, where we are in three to five days just like we said. You’ve got to say, ‘OK, is important to or not, or is the rest more important?’ When he gets to the point where he says, ‘OK, I think I can do it,’ then we’re going to weigh the risks and rewards.
“I’ve got some private thoughts about it. You know what I’m probably thinking about. I think I know what’s going to happen.”
Dylan Bundy is the confirmed starter for Sunday’s series finale against the Rays that also ends the last homestand of the season.
Bundy had a good work day yesterday, which allowed Showalter to pitch him Sunday.
“He feels great,” Showalter said. “I know he’s like to pitch. We’ll see how the next couple of days go. Right now it’s him.”
For the Rays
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Lucas Duda DH
Evan Longoria 3B
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Wilson Ramos C
Adeiny Hechavarria SS
Daniel Robertson 2B
Alex Cobb RHP
Update: Ubaldo Jiménez retired the Rays in order on nine pitches in the first inning, but they loaded the bases with no outs in the second and Wilson Ramos hit a grand slam to give Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead.
Update II: The Orioles also loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the second, but they settled for two runs on Austin Hays’ sacrifice fly and a wild pitch. Evan Longoria led off the top of the third with a home run to give the Rays a 5-2 lead.
Adeiny Hechavarria added an RBI single with two outs for a 6-2 lead. Ramos was tagged out in a rundown.
Update III: Chris Davis homered in the fourth to reduce the lead to 6-3.
Update IV: Miguel Castro allowed a run in the fifth on Corey Dickerson’s two-out RBI double and the Rays lead 7-3.