When Alec Bohm was first called up to join the Phillies on August 13th, 2020, hopes were high for the former first-round draft pick. Under two months later, he exceeded all expectations as he finished the season with a .338 AVG and a 139 OPS+ while hitting for four home runs. He performed so well that he ended in second place in the National League Rookie of the Year vote. With nine first-place votes, Bohm lost to Brewers pitcher Devin Williams who received 14 first-place votes.
Then Came the Sophomore Slump
Coming into 2021 as the team’s starting third baseman, Bohm started 81 of the Phillies’ 87 games before the All-Star Break. Throughout April and May, Bohm hit for an atrocious .203 AVG, just barely over the Mendoza line. An increase in his strikeout rate and a drop in his overall batting average on balls in play (BABIP) have been the main culprits for Bohm. His strikeout rate increased by 5% to 25.8% on the year while his dropped 83 points from .410 to .327 on the year.
Since the calendar turned the page into the month of June, Bohm figured out how to turn things around offensively, hitting for a .304 AVG and a lucky .777 OPS. His BABIP over that stretch has been .398, indicating that he is finding the gaps in the defense more when he makes contact.
Of course, Bohm’s largest problem this season has been on the other side of the ball: defense.
Alec Bohm owns the second most defensive errors at third base this season behind Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. With a -3 Outs Above Average, Bohm ranks in the bottom 12% of the league in value added as a defender.
What Can the Phillies Do About Bohm Now?
Alec Bohm has not started in a game since August 11th after getting benched by manager Joe Girardi. He has been spending extra time working on ground balls while supporting the team primarily as a pinch-hitter.
While getting benched is never easy for a starter, Bohm has kept his public comments very diplomatic, claiming that ‘Everything is good.’
The hunt to make the playoffs, however, does not stop for the Phillies.
“You have to think about winning right now”, said Girardi. “[Bohm] obviously knows I’ll double-swithc with him. He knows. He’s just doing his work. He was out here early with BP. He was out here early doing ground balls. It’s tough, because he’s a kid who’s used to playing every day.
That win-now mentality is good to hear from Girardi, but in a way makes the Phillies’ benching of Bohm even more difficult to understand. Yes, his defensive work has been killing the Phillies, but the Phillies’ offense without Rhys Hoskins and now Bohm as well has been struggling. The Phillies have averaged only three runs per game since benching Bohm. JT Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, and Brad Miller have all been hitting well-under the Mendoza line over the past seven days.
Bohm’s .830 OPS since June 27th would be a big relief for the lineup. For perspective, that ranks Bohm as the 74th-best bat in the league over that stretch. If that means forcing him to improve upon his fielding work on the job, so be it.
If the Phillies are not willing to bring Bohm back into the starting lineup, they might as well send him down to AAA Lehigh Valley. While that may seem a little nuclear for a former ROTY candidate, giving Bohm a few weeks of playing time to solely work on his fielding would not be a bad thing. Putting Bohm on the bench means he is getting very little fielding time to improve upon during games.
The Minor League schedule continues through the month of September now, so the Phillies could realistically send Bohm down for a couple weeks and bring him back up for their homestand agains the Rockies and Cubs starting on September 9th.
Regardless if the Phillies want to start Alec Bohm or demote him to AAA, benching him does little for the Phillies or for him. Whether it be focusing on defense or offense, it is time for the Phillies to make a choice and run with it.
Regardless If The Phillies Want To Start Alec Bohm Or Demote Him To AAA, Benching Him Does Little For the Phillies Or For Him.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire