Last season the second sacker changed representation in the middle of the season, as he was in the midst of a contract year. Schoop hired the famous super-agent Scott Boras, and shortly after, he agreed to a two-year extension with the Detroit Tigers worth $15-million.
That is a nice $3 million bump in salary from 2021, where Schoop belted 22 home runs and drove in 84 while hitting .278. Schoop also produced a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 1.5 in ’21. Not only is Schoop a solid offensive contributor, but he’s also maintained a stellar 0.989 fielding percentage over the last two seasons with Detroit.
During last season I mentioned that the Detroit Tigers would best maximize Schoop’s value by moving him back to second base full-time rather than playing him at first base. The Tigers had a need last year at first after failing to retain C.J. Cron and not having a liable backup plan. The Tigers elected to run out Schoop and Miguel Cabrera with Niko Goodrum, Renato Nunez, and Harold Castro mixed in the odd day.
The Tigers were not looking for a long-term solution at the position, knowing they’d likely elevate Spencer Torkelson in 2022. Still, I recall being a bit flabbergasted, wondering why general manager Al Avila didn’t bring in a veteran on a one-year deal.
With Schoop in the midst of a contract year and Willi Castro coming off of a sensational COVID-19 shortened season seemed destined to be the everyday second baseman moving forward. Well, baseball once again proved how humbling it could be; we’re here in 2022, and Willi Castro didn’t make the club out of Spring Training, and his future with the organization seems to be in doubt.
The Detroit Tigers brought top prospect Spencer Torkelson with them to begin the season to be the everyday first baseman. Although he had a quiet opening series offensively, he’s made a couple of superb plays in the field.
Jonathan Schoop is likely the unsung hero of the Detroit Tigers lineup in 2022.
With everyone talking about the Tigers’ newest star Javier Baez, and Miguel Cabrera chasing history, plus the two young phenoms Torkelson, and Riley Greene, a veteran like Schoop will likely fly under the radar in 2022.
Bringing Torkelson north also allows manager A.J. Hinch to plug Schoop in at second base daily, where he maximizes his value. His offensive production and capabilities among second basemen put him in the top third at his position, but the same numbers for a first baseman would be considered below average.
As it stands, Hinch has plugged Schoop in right behind Cabrera, hitting sixth for the Tigers during the opening series with the White Sox. Schoop is followed by Akil Baddoo or Victor Reyes, Torkelson and Barnhart or Haase.
This is the deepest lineup we’ve seen Detroit field in years. Javier Baez’s addition hitting third moves Jeimer Candelario to the clean-up spot, finally pushing the future Hall Of Famer Cabrera down into the five-hole.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Schoop and Cabrera flipped over the course of the season, which will put the 30-year old power-hitting second baseman in more of a position to contribute offensively moving forward. Expect another 20-plus home run, 80 RBI year from the veteran middle infielder.
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FanGraphs has a wonderful tool that takes a player’s WAR and turns it into dollars. Schoop is more valuable than his current contract using this tool, which is always a good thing for any organization. Over the last two seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Schoop carried a value of $11.2 and $11.7 million despite being paid $6.1 and $4.5 million before cashing in on his new deal.