Alec Bohm’s rookie season in 2020 gave Phillies fans a lot to look forward to after he finished with a .338 batting average, a .400 on-base percentage, and a .452 batting average with runners in scoring position. However, if a sophomore season could define the term “sophomore slump,” it would be Bohm’s 2021 campaign. Bohm’s struggles led to him being sent down to the Triple-A amid a playoff race for the Phillies. So, what does this mean for Bohm’s future with the Phillies?
In the immediate future, Phillies fans should expect to see Bohm back in the big leagues in September when rosters expand. It is hard to imagine the Phillies keeping Bohm in the minors while calling up other players. Will he start in September though? I’m sure he will occasionally start games at third for the Phillies, but as of right now, Ronald Torreyes has earned a starting spot at third base defensively and even offensively this year. He has a career-high in homers, and by the time the season is done, he could also have a career-high in RBIs. Defensively, he has not committed an error at third base this year compared to Bohm’s 15 errors at third, first in the majors at third. So expect to see Bohm get occasional playing time in September, but not an everyday role.
This offseason and spring training will be crucial for Bohm’s big league career. As of now, Bohm will be the Phillies 2022 everyday starter. However, if the 2022 trade deadline comes around and Bohm is playing as he did in 2021, and the Phillies find themselves in the postseason hunt, third base could be a position they look to upgrade. Any trade for a third baseman would have to include Bohm, which means his time in Philly would end. To make sure that does not happen, Bohm will have to come back new and improved for his 2022 campaign.
Let’s play devil’s advocate for a second, though. What if the Phillies decide to pursue a third baseman in free agency this upcoming off-season? The big fish is Kris Bryant, and he is someone that would fit perfectly with the Phillies. He’s versatile as he sees time at third, first, and the outfield, and a team can never have too much versatility. He would slide into the middle of the lineup with Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins and would be a massive boost to this Phillies roster. However, I see Bryant staying in San Francisco after this year. Other than Bryant, there are not any young third basemen in free agency that the Phils can pursue, so that should give Bohm some confidence that he’ll be starting at third next year.
So, how did things go so badly for Bohm this year? The most apparent reason for his struggles is that pitchers have more information on him and therefore know how to pitch to him better than they did in 2021. Another problem for Bohm this year was that he was swinging and missing way more than 2020. His whiff percentage increased 1.6 percent, his strikeout percentage increased 6.5 percent, while his walks were down 1.3 percent. His strikeout percentage on four-seam fastballs alone went up 6 percent compared to 2020, and you cannot miss the fastball in the big leagues. Bohm had his struggles defensively in 2020, so when you combine the fact that he was never a good fielder with his offensive struggles, the result is his 16 errors this year. The mental efforts lead to fielding struggles and vice versa. Bohm has to put it all together and keep his confidence up, so he does not compound his errors and hitting woes.
Bohm is such a critical piece for the Phillies moving forward. At his best, he can hit the ball the other way and drive in runs at a productive rate. Phillies fans still haven’t seen the power Bohm could have if he reaches his full potential. If he can figure things out this offseason, look for Bohm to have a bounce-back 2022 season.