Does Schoop stay on second base?

I was going to start this entry by giving my Gold Glove predictions, but I honestly have no idea whether the Orioles will take home any hardware. I’m constantly surprised by the results.

Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain wasn’t nominated and I’m pretty sure he catches every ball hit in every ballpark. Maybe he’s being punished for moving to right. It’s a tribute to his defensive skills, but perhaps it hurt his chances in the balloting. I don’t know.

All three Orioles - J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis - have legitimate chances to win. Jones already owns three Gold Gloves and reputation can play a big role in determining the winners.

There’s no doubt that Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer will beat out Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols. That one is easy. And I’m going to assume that Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon will beat out Michael Brantley and Yoenis Cespedes.

schoop-fielding-gray-sidebar.jpgManager Buck Showalter thinks second baseman Jonathan Schoop is deserving of the award. No doubt he can turn a double play with the best of them with his tremendous arm strength. Anyone sliding into Schoop gets the worst of it. But he’s not ready to crack a trio of finalists that’s comprised of proven veterans Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia.

Showalter recently challenged reporters to name a second baseman who was better defensively than Schoop. I blurted out Pedroia, perhaps playing the reputation card. He could have been a sieve for all I know, but his name immediately came to mind.

The Orioles don’t seem to have any plans to move Schoop off second base next season. I haven’t heard anything about letting him back up Hardy at shortstop or Manny Machado at third base. There’s no talk about Machado moving to short and Hardy shifting to second.

It’s not broke. Don’t try to fix it.

Let’s not forget that the Orioles came extremely close to acquiring Asdrubal Cabrera at the non-waiver trade deadline before the Indians sent him to the Nationals. They were looking for more offensive production at second base and thought they had Cabrera until the final minutes.

Cabrera hit .229/.312/.389 with nine doubles, five home runs and 21 RBIs in 49 games with the Nats. Schoop hit .191/.221/.399 with eight doubles, 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in 59 games in the second half.

Schoop really faded toward the end, going 11-for-71 (.155) with four home runs in September. He went 3-for-10 with a double and two RBIs in the Division Series, but had one hit in 11 at-bats in the Championship Series.

Cabrera is a free agent this winter, but I’d pass on him and stick with Schoop.

The Orioles are satisfied with Schoop’s defense, which is such an important component, and believe he’s going to hit at this level. He finished with 16 home runs. That’s nice power at the position. And his average should climb.

He’s only 23. He’s still developing.

Cabrera prefers to play shortstop and may be the most highly coveted on the market besides Hanley Ramirez. He may have appeared to be a fit over the summer, but I’m sensing that the Orioles are content to let Schoop continue to develop at the major league level.

Rich Dauer was 4-for-39 after breaking into the majors in 1976, but his glove kept him in the lineup and he batted a career-high .284 in 1980. He never hit more than nine home runs in a season. The Orioles didn’t need power from him.

They will get lots more from Schoop, who continues to add muscle to a once-lanky frame. For me, it’s worth running him out there on a regular basis to see how high his average can climb.

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