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The most encouraging sign from Alec Bohm’s breakout

One key area shows potential for even more improvement.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Alec Bohm is currently enjoying the best full season of his career. His leap hasn’t been quite as dramatic or publicized as those of Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh, but Bohm has been one of the Phillies’ most consistent hitters for the majority of the season. He’s continued to improve upon the jumps he had in 2022 on both sides of the ball and has become one of the best RBI generators in the sport. But that’s not the area that’s the most interesting.

The knock against Bohm for much of his professional career has been that he has never quite figured out how to tap into his power. At 6’5, 218 pounds, he should be able to have a career slugging percentage that is above the .391 it entered at this season. He slugged .481 with 7 home runs in 44 games during his abbreviated 2020 rookie season, but Bohm had a SLG under .400 in both seasons following and totaled 20 HRs in 267 games.

However, through 100 games in 2023 entering Wednesday, Bohm’s SLG has jumped to .442 with 12 home runs. That’s a 44-point increase from last season and one less HR in 52 less games. His 20 doubles are just 4 away from tying last season as well. This even includes a span of 39 games from May to June where Bohm was slugging just .387.

Hitting the ball in the air

Bohm’s increased his fly ball percentage from 21% last season to just over 24% this season. That is a welcome development, but even more so when you see where it came from. His line drive percentage is nearly identical at 27.5% as opposed to 27.2% last season. Naturally, the higher percentage of fly balls has to come from somewhere, so where did he subtract that 3% from?

The answer to that question is obviously Bohm’s groundball rate. This means that Bohm has been able to put the ball in the air more without sacrificing his general good contact. He’s running a career best isolated power (.148) and HR rate (2.9%) without drastically altering his quality of contact.

Path to more improvement

But even after all these positive steps forward, there’s still even more room to grow. Bohm’s pull percentage is currently at a career-worst 25%. Alec Bohm is not and should not ever look to become a dead pull hitter, as his ability to hit the ball to all fields is perhaps his greatest strength. That said, the next step to take in fully realizing his power potential is to pull the ball in the air more consistently.

Bohm overwhelmingly hits the ball up the middle, with 44% of his batted balls going that way. In fact, he goes the opposite way more than he pulls the ball as well, with 30% for batted balls going towards right field. Hitting the ball straight is a great way to get base hits, but it's not the easiest way to get extra base hits. All base hits are good, but it's easier to score runs with an extra base hit or two rather than stringing along three or more singles in an inning.

Bohm basically needs to look to pull the ball early in counts more often, and then revert to his up-the-middle-opposite-way approach when the count isn’t in his favor. He has power to all fields, but 8 of his 12 home runs have been to the pull side.

He doesn’t need to be a 30+ home run hitter, but Bohm being able to hit 20+ HRs and have a respectable slugging percentage consistently would make him much more of a valuable hitter in today’s power-driven game. He’s increased his FB% each of the last two years while continuing the trend he started in 2022 where he sharply cut his GB% from 2021. The hitter Bohm is now is very good, but he has the potential to be an even better one if he continues these trends.