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The Milwaukee Brewers appear to be trying to build an infield of sluggers who had a good 2017. They recently acquired Mike Moustakas from the Royals, who is struggling to live up to his 2018 form, and now they have added former Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop. They both join Travis Shaw who also appears to be struggling to live up to the numbers he put forward last year. However, the Brewers will be hoping that during this seasons race for the NL Central that at least one of their power hitting infielders finds his form and helps propel what should be a really nice offense the rest of the season.

Having given up a decent amount of prospect value in acquiring this infield the Brewers will be looking to try and get Schoop and Moustakas in the lineup as much as possible. What will be interesting to see is how they do that without compromising Shaw's spot in the lineup. That means we could potentially see Schoop spend some time at shortstop, which in itself could be a nice bit of added fantasy flexibility.

The question is what does this move mean for Schoop and his fantasy value? Going from a team that likely will lose 100-games to a team fighting to make the playoffs should at least boost his potential to win games but what about his hitting numbers? Will we see an increase in value that fantasy owners are craving? Below is a deeper look into Schoop’s value as part of the Brewers lineup, along with the impact his departure will have on the Orioles' second base and his owners across different fantasy leagues in the short and long term.

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Rest of Season Value

Schoop's 2018 season has been somewhat of a disappointment so far. After hitting 32 home runs with a .293 batting average in 2017, big things were expected in 2018. However, currently Schoop is struggling to fully live up to those expectations. It is hard to complain about his 17 home runs but his .240 batting average is one of the worst of his career so far. The question to ask though is how playing in a team that has be abject at best this season has affected him. When it feels like nothing you do will make a difference it can become easy for concentration to slip and mistakes to be made. He no longer has that excuse now. On the Brewers, he has been thrust into the middle of a playoff race and hopefully he ups his game accordingly.

In terms of power, I am not expecting a huge amount more from Schoop. His ISO of .201 is close enough to his .211 mark last season and Miller Park is similar enough to Camden Yards that I do not expect much to change on that front. What fantasy owners will be hoping for is an increase in the average and a boost in his runs and RBI numbers. In terms of runs and RBI, being part of the Brewers lineup should help those come at a faster rate than they did in Baltimore. Schoop should hit in the middle of a batting order that is fairly stacked. When Travis Shaw is in the lineup there will be hitters capable of doing damage occupying batting positions one through seven for the Brewers.

In terms of his batting average, which is 0.053 below last seasons .293 mark, what can change? Currently, his BABIP is .260, having been above .300 the last three season in Baltimore. Some of that can always be attributed to a little bad luck but there are some concerning numbers. So far this season Schoop's hard contact rate is down nearly 10% compared to last season, at 26.8% compared to 36.1%. In addition, his line drive rate is down at 17.3% compared to being above 19% the last three seasons. However, a major issue is his infield fly ball rate which has jumped from 16% last year to 20.8% this season. That kind of increase is always going to have an effect on a hitter's BABIP and drive down the average. Schoop needs to get back to driving the ball harder and trying to avoid those pop-up type plays if he is to get his batting average up where we have seen it previously in his career.

In general, the difference between playing for a contender and a poor team can make a big difference. It would be expected that in Milwaukee, hitting behind Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, that Schoop should come to the plate with hitters on base more regularly. That should hopefully make a difference to his approach at the plate, as he may look to clear the fences less and focus on getting the ball in play.

Overall, I would look to try and acquire Schoop now in fantasy leagues if possible. If his current owner is frustrated with the low average you may be able to get him at a relative bargain. Now that he is on a contender where he should come to the plate in moments that matter and often with men on base he can hopefully get that batting average up, while also increasing his runs and RBI on a much better team than he was on.

The Brewers infield

How the Brewers infield shakes out is somewhat of a concern. Travis Shaw has already been moved off third base by Mike Moustakas and now he could lose times at second base as well. Shaw does not have the flexibility to play shortstop so even in a utility role he is extremely limited. Shaw, who has 20 home runs this season, is hitting for just a .248 batting average this season. However, we have seen that he is a hitter whose form can go up and down.

As for the remainder of the infield, Orlando Arcia is possibly a big loser, if Schoop can play shortstop on a regular basis. However, for fantasy purposes Arcia has been a negative this season, slugging just .249 with a .196 batting average and three steals. Finally, this acquisition puts pressure on recently acquired Mike Moustakas, who is also hitting for just a .248 batting average this season. Having three slugging infielders in the form of Moustakas, Shaw and Schoop will allow Milwaukee to ride the hot hands, potentially leaving someone on the bench for prolonged stretches. Owning this infield in fantasy may have just become very frustrating.

 

Dynasty Value

If, as many suspect, we see Jonathan Schoop play some shortstop this season, then in the short-term his dynasty value gets a bump. Gaining the flexibility the extra position offers is always a bonus. In addition, with the up and down nature of the shortstop position, having someone who can hit for power eligible there is always a bonus. Schoop is currently contracted to play in Milwaukee through into the 2019 season, which if you are going to be traded away from Camden Yards is not a bad alternative. Baltimore and Milwaukee rank very closely in park factor for home runs and runs.

Looking more long-term, Schoop is just 26 and has demonstrated the ability to hit for power and, when it goes right, have a solid batting average. For someone whose fantasy value relies heavily on his power where he ends up after this contract is huge. If he can stay in Miller Park or find another power-friendly park then he can remain a valuable fantasy hitter for the next few years. However, if he ends up somewhere with negative home run factor relative to the league average then the potential for low batting average could be an issue. Hitting in Miller Park I fully expect to see Schoop's value peak in the next season and a half. At that point, if you are not a contending team in the short-term then you may never get an opportunity to flip him for more value than while he is a member of a relatively stacked Milwaukee Brewers offense.

 

What about the Orioles?

The second base situation for the Orioles makes pretty grim reading for fantasy owners. Currently, it appears as though the Orioles will proceed with a platoon involving Jace Peterson and Breyvic Valera at second base. Peterson is hitting .206 with three home runs and nine stolen bases and Valera is hitting .182 in his limited exposure so far. Neither is expected to provide much in terms of power and speed, based on their minor league numbers. Where there may be some value is if Jonathan Villar can get himself healthy and play regularly. Villar has the speed to be a menace on the base paths and steal a decent number of bases. However, for now he is stuck on the disabled list with a sprained thumb so is not worth adding in most leagues at this stage.

 

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