For all the struggles the Phillies have had throughout their history, finding top notch third basemen hasn’t really been one since the 1960’s. Dick Allen was a stud for the Phils in that era, boasting 177 home runs from 1963-69, and a 35.2 WAR. Although he was dealt to the Cardinals in 1970, it wouldn’t take the Phils long to find another gem at the hot corner. Mike Schmidt made his big league debut in 1972, and became the full-time third baseman the following season and wouldn’t look back, going on to be the greatest Phillie ever.
It was going to be practically impossible for the Phils to replace Schmitty once he retired mid-season in 1989, but it didn’t start well. Charlie Hayes had mediocre results with the team from 89-91, and the team needed an increase. In stepped Dave Hollins who performed well in 1992 and was an instrumental piece of the magical 1993 team. Hollins over those two years slashed .271/.371/.456, with 45 home runs and 186 RBI’s. But, he fell off quickly thereafter with a rough 1994, and struggled again in 95 before being sent to the Red Sox. But there was someone waiting in the wings.
That someone was the wonder boy, Scott Rolen. He would make his debut with the Phils in 1996 after being called up in August, and go on to man the hot corner on opening day in 1997. He’d go on to win three Gold Glove awards in Philly (technically four if you count 2002), and easily be the team’s best third baseman since Schmidt.
When he was unable to be signed by Ed Wade, and subsequently traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002, it left a massive hole in the infield. Although Placido Polanco was acquired in the Rolen deal and could play third, the Phillies moved him to second base in 2003 and signed David Bell. He’d hit just .195 for them that season, and although he’d have a strong 2004, his tenure in Philly was largely forgettable. But he did hit for the cycle that one time, so that was fun.
After Bell, the Phillies have gone through quite the list of third basemen, get the popcorn ready for some of these names: Abraham Nunez, Wes Helms, Pedro Feliz, Polanco, Michael Young, Cody Asche, and Maikel Franco. This season, their 2018 first round pick has a chance to not only be the next third baseman of the Phillies, but end over a decade worth’s of futility at the position.
Alec Bohm was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, and has been on a fast track to the big leagues ever since. He played at three levels of minor league ball last season, with single A Lakewood, high A Clearwater, and AA Reading. He excelled at each level in different ways, and ended the season with a slash line between all leagues of .305/.378/..518. Bohm is without a doubt the best third base prospect this team has had in quite some time.
In just his second full pro season, he has an opportunity to make some noise in spring training and possibly win the job. He and Spencer Howard are two of the more anticipated prospects in recent memory, and I’d expect both to make their debuts some time this season.
But what Bohm has a chance to do is break a curse of sorts. Of course, the Phillies won a World Series since Rolen was dealt, and had arguably the most successful period in franchise history. At third base though, there hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about for the most part. Franco’s 2015 season showed promise that he could possibly be the long-term solution, and although he manned the position through last season, it became clear fairly quickly he wasn’t “the guy.”
Bohm may not be the opening day starter at third, and that’s perfectly okay. But man would it be something to see this prized prospect have an awesome spring, and make the team right out of spring training. If he does, the opening day infield would most likely consist of himself, Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorious, and either Jean Segura or Scott Kingery at second base. Just the thought of that, especially if we get 2017-18 Didi this season, is salivating.
There have been some legends to start at third base for the Phillies, but there’s been a dry spell of late at the position. Bohm has the opportunity to not only make a major league roster, but give fans reason to believe in him as the long-term solution. Is that a lot of pressure to put on a 23 year old kid? Probably, but at least for Bohm, he has an incredibly talented offense around him. He won’t be relied upon to be the face of the franchise like Rolen was, or even Schmidt. There’s Bryce Harper, J.T Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and plenty more to carry the load. If he does make the team, he won’t be put in a high pressure role, which would benefit him greatly.
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference