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Alec Bohm’s debut: One year later

The 2018 third overall pick made his MLB debut one year ago today. What have we learned? Has he met expectations?

Baltimore Orioles v. Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Alec Bohm was called up to the majors exactly one year ago today.

The third overall pick in 2018’s major league debut was highly anticipated and was teased by Joe Girardi and the club for a few weeks prior. When it was announced the 24-year-old was finally being called up, Phillies Twitter erupted with joy, myself included.

Our own Ethan Witte wrote of Bohm’s call up last year: “With both Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins struggling to hit right now and the addition of the designated hitter to the National League this year, the timing is right for Bohm to come up and show what he can do.”

And the decision to call up one of their top prospects proved to be the right move, as the addition of Bohm to the lineup was the spark the club needed at the time.

Bohm donned the powder blues in his debut at home against the Baltimore Orioles, batting sixth. In his first at-bat, Bohm hit a double down the left-field line for his first major league hit.

Unfortunately, with two outs, nobody was able to get the rookie home. He finished 1-4, and the Phils wound up losing the game 11-4, with Baltimore completing the sweep. Welcome to the Phillies, kid!

The following day, Bohm was able to pick up his first ML RBI against the New York Mets, and on Aug. 23 vs. the Atlanta Braves, Bohm hit his first ML home run.

One of the main takeaways from Bohm’s debut season was that he was spectacular in the clutch. One of these instances included when Bohm walked off the Washington Nationals to complete a four-game sweep on Sept. 3 as the Phils were in the midst of their best stretch of the season, in which they’d go on to win 10 of 11 games.

While the Phillies’ season finished on a low note, Bohm’s season did not. In 44 games, he bat .338/.400/.481 and posted an OPS of .881. In 180 PAs, he collected 54 hits, 11 doubles, four HRs, and 23 RBIs. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Milwaukee Brewers’ reliever Devin Williams.

It looked as if a Phillies’ top prospect was finally meeting the hype, and his future with the team seemed bright. But we had yet to see how Bohm’s numbers would play out during a 162-game season. And with MLB deciding to do away with the DH in the National League in 2021, Bohm’s defense, which had already caused some concern, would be on full display at third base.

Nevertheless, I, along with most of the fanbase, was ecstatic to see Bohm over the course of a full season. He was exciting to watch, as he was consistently getting on base and getting runs home. I believe the feeling toward Bohm last season was that if you needed to get an important run home, he was the guy you wanted at the plate.

But can we say the same a year later?

It became evident during April and May that Bohm was going through what they call a “sophomore slump.” In 209 PAs spanning 53 games, he hit just .203/.249/.302, and a .551 OPS. He hit four homers and collected 24 RBI during this span, but also struck out 58 times and grounded into 12 double-plays. While he was hitting the ball hard, he couldn’t seem to catch a break no matter where it was hit, struggling to find any gaps in the field.

It’s almost as if the infamous not-safe-but-called-safe play at home vs. the Atlanta Braves on Sunday Night Baseball back in April cursed Bohm for all of eternity.

Additionally, his defense do I put this nicely?... God awful. He’s committed 15 errors in 103 games this season at third base (16 overall), tied for first among third basemen, and fourth in all of MLB. His defense has quickly become a liability, and many have been questioning if he should continue starting at third base at all, or should even spend some time in AAA.

I found it sad to see a player who was such a beacon of hope for the club in 2020 look so lost both at the plate and in the field. However, Bohm has seemingly turned it around as of late and has resembled his 2020 self. Since June 1, he’s batted .307/.375/.404 and collected 51 hits, 7 doubles, three HRs, and 22 RBIs. Sure, there’s still room for improvement, but it has been nice to see him find some productivity at the plate over the last few months.

As for Bohm’s fielding, outside of a couple of rare flashes of leather over at third base, he has never been able to sustain solid—or even average—defense. Most recently, he committed three errors during the Mets series and has even been lifted from games due to his defensive woes. It would be in the Phils’ best interest to platoon starting at third between Bohm and Ronald Torreyes, perhaps with Toe getting the bulk of starts to finish 2021.

The Phils’ recent reunion with Freddy Galvis has also provided Bohm with some much-needed guidance, and truly anything at this point will help the struggling fielder.

Either way, the DH can’t come soon enough to the NL. It’s practically calling Bohm’s name, but it’s also highly possible he moves to first base (although after his showing at 1B on Aug. 11 during the Dodgers series, maybe that’s not the best idea) or left field following this season.

So, how do you feel about Alec Bohm moving forward?

It’s understandable where fans would at their wits end with his defense. It’s nothing short of abysmal, and on a team that is already struggling in a multitude of areas, particularly with pitching that relies on the defense behind them, it’s not going to go unnoticed or be taken lightly. It’s been extremely costly and frustrating, to say the least. He has a lot to work on, and it will be a challenge for the Phillies to figure out what to do with him in the field.

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I haven’t completely given up on Bohm’s offensive abilities just yet. I do believe we will see improvements from him offensively in 2022 because his power is still there, as BaseballSavant has him in the 92nd percentile in average exit velocity and 90th in hard-hit percentage. It’s a matter of fixing his approach at the plate and adjusting his swing.

I hope that in 2022 Bohm is able to develop his game both physically and mentally, and finds a role that he is comfortable in. It would be huge for himself, the Phillies, and the fans to see him thrive.