Leaving the sinking ship that was the 2018 version of the Baltimore Orioles and coming to a team that was one game from going to the World Series evidently broke Jonathan Schoop’s heart. Schoop indicated that he “never got comfortable” as a Brewer. If on-the-field performance is an indication of a broken heart, it certainly showed. During his two months with the Brewers, he slashed .202/.246/.331. He had an OPS+ of 53! What was obviously thought to be the bridge to Keston Hiura was a dismal failure in Milwaukee.
His poor play with the Brew Crew led to David Stearns non-tendering the former All-Star. After letting Schoop go, Stearns went on to admit the folly of trading Jonathan Villar, Jean Carmona, and Luis Ortiz for the second baseman. As the season went on, it became increasingly apparent that the Brewers should move on from the 27 year old. Obviously there was financial benefit from moving on from Schoop as the Brewers saved $10 million and opened a roster spot. Possibly more important, the Brewers opened that roster spot for a player that would be a better fit for this clubhouse. If Schoop felt uncomfortable playing in a clubhouse renowned for its culture, a culture that believes in being loose and having fun, then he just was not an appropriate fit. Schoop may just have a personality that does not mesh with that type of clubhouse. He seemingly needs people he is comfortable with to help bring the best out him. For whatever reason, he was unable to find that in Milwaukee.
Great insight from @Haudricourt and @AdamMcCalvy on Schoop non-tender decision by @Brewers. I like GM David Stearns honesty saying it turned out to be a mistake, moving on. Team saves est. $10 million. That’s a lot to work with in this market moving forward.— Craig Coshun (@CraigCoshun) December 1, 2018
Going into 2019, Schoop believes everything will be better. He signed a 1-year, $7 million contract with the Minnesota Twins with the mindset to re-emerge as a top end second baseman. One month later, the Twins signed Nelson Cruz, and for Schoop, that offers a bonus that he had not relied on when he first signed. He feels being reunited with his former teammate will make a difference in his on-the-field performance and the way he feels about being a part of the Minnesota Twins. “It’s like old times...It’s like 2014 with the Orioles. Me and him will have a lot of fun, for sure.” Schoop obviously sees Cruz as a mentor that helped him during his rookie year and offers the level of comfort that Schoop craves.
Schmuck: Jonathan Schoop was 'heartbroken' when he left Orioles, but now he's in a better place with Twins https://t.co/QCYqEvKLCg— David Gibson (@DrDavidGibson) February 28, 2019
With that new found comfort, Schoop believes he will get back to the player he was in 2017 where he slashed .293/.338/.503 for a wRC+ of 122. That would have been nice to have in a Brewers’ uniform. A .330 BABIP in 2017 indicates a certain amount of luck in that season. A BB% between 3.2-5.2% for his career indicates an inability to get on base if he isn’t having that luck or, framed differently, he is unlucky. His performance in 2018 supports that as his BABIP was .261.
The inability to get comfortable with a team with a clubhouse culture like the Milwaukee Brewers is most troubling however. The more one observes David Stearns and company and what they are trying to accomplish, the more one can see that a player’s fit with the team culture is paramount. Jonathan Schoop, by his own admission, did not feel comfortable being a Brewer. The fact the Brewers were marching towards an NL Central title and to the NLCS might have actually enhanced the sense of not fitting in as there was nothing else to blame his poor performance on. Here is hoping he finds his fit in Minnesota and comes back to be a quality major league player.
Baseball statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference