Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop came up huge again Friday in the Orioles’ 1-0, 13-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
His walkoff RBI double that scored Manny Machado provided the game’s only offense. And, in the ninth inning, his ice-water-vein decision to throw a rocket home on a sharp grounder prevented the speedy Kevin Pillar from scoring, extending the game until he could win it with his bat.
Schoop’s game-winner represented his 101st RBI of the season, putting him just two behind his buddy Nelson Cruz for the American League lead. And his .307 average is fourth in the AL among qualifiers.
So, with the Orioles just 1 ½ games out of the AL Wild Card race, is it time for Schoop’s candidacy to be pushed beyond Most Valuable Oriole and into the AL Most Valuable Player race?
“I was talking about it two months ago, if you all remember,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “But I’ve been talking about it, so I could use some help.”
Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve likely will run away with this year’s award. He’s the catalyst for the team with the best record in the AL, could lead the league in on-base percentage, batting average and stolen bases and has a commanding lead in Wins Above Replacement with 7.2 (the next closest is Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons at 6.4).
Schoop is seventh in WAR with 4.8, likely because his defense is not as highly regarded as some of the other MVP contenders such as Simmons and Altuve. Schoop’s defense certainly has improved during the second half, though.
“I’m talking about both sides of the ball,” Showalter said, stumping for Schoop as a MVP candidate. “But a lot of them who were shoo-ins a couple months ago have kind of, might be behind him now. I’m trying to stay off the bulletin board here. I’m not too good at it.”
Schoop was asked whether he thought he should be mentioned in potential MVP discussions. And he answered like you would expect.
“I don’t think about those types of things. I just want to contribute to my team, do whatever I can do for us to win, whatever I can do to put us in the playoffs, that’s all that matters,” Schoop said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re MVP, but you’re at home and watching the games. Playoffs are fun. I want to do my best. I want to be better than I was last year. I want to contribute to my team, and whatever happens, we’re going to see.”
Right answer. But, if the Orioles keep surging to those playoffs, Schoop has to start getting some MVP buzz.