It’s safe to say that so far, the 2021 season has not gone the way Phillies third basemen Alec Bohm had hoped. The 24-year-old’s sophomore season has been a far cry from the electric rookie year that had many fans thinking he was a key piece of the franchise’s future.
Bohm burst onto the scene in 2020 by hitting .338/.400/.481 with 4 home runs and 23 RBI in 44 games. He ended up leading all qualifying National League rookies in key stats: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and hits. He even finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
A sophomore slump for Alec Bohm?
This season has been a completely different story, and Bohm has looked lost for much of it. His batting average has dropped a staggering 138 points to .220 and he isn’t doing a much better job of finding ways to get on base, sporting an abysmal .263 OBP. His OPS in 2020 was .881; this year, it’s .571. Bohm even leads all of baseball in double plays grounded into (12).
The young infielder’s power also seems to have evaporated at times. In 214 at-bats in 2021, Bohm has barely matched his home run total from his 160 at-bats as a rookie (4) and has managed to snag fewer extra-base hits overall. He had 11 doubles in 44 games in 2020, but he only has 7 in 60 games so far this season.
Defensively, Bohm never projected as a Gold Glove third basemen, but his 9 errors have more than doubled his total from last season (4). He’s sporting a -1.1 dWAR, the defensive wins above replacement metric. His total value in that metric, overall WAR, is currently -.05, dead last among all third basemen.
Prior to this season, I predicted that Bohm would firmly establish himself as the third basemen of the future for the Phillies. Regression was to be expected, at least to some degree. However, the extent to which Bohm has struggled this season has been concerning.
Could Alec Bohm’s bat be back?
All of that being said, things might be looking up for Alec Bohm.
As the calendar has flipped to June, Alec Bohm has been looking much better. He started the month with a 3-hit game on June 1, one of two multi-hit games so far this month; he had five multi-hit games total over 27 games in May. It’s still early, but across seven games and six starts, he’s beginning to find his stroke at the plate, slashing .364/.391/.364 prior to the Phillies’ weekend series with the New York Yankees. He’s upped his overall season batting average by 17 points, taking it from .203 at the end of May to .220.
Bohm’s fastball hitting improvement is promising for the Phillies.
One area in which Bohm has struggled most in 2021 is hitting fastballs. According to MLB Statcast, opposing pitchers have thrown Bohm a fastball 63.7% of the time and he’s hitting .187 against them. But in June, he’s adjusted to the pitch quite nicely, improving to .333. He’s fared even better on breaking balls this month, picking up three of his eight hits against them.
"“I know I can hit a fastball. It’s not going to be a thing.” – Alec Bohm to MLB.com"
If there’s been one criticism to levy against Bohm at the plate in June it would be that he still has yet to land an extra-base hit. However, it’s not for lack of trying. He’s actually hitting the ball harder than he was last season, it’s just not falling in the right spot yet. On the season, he’s in the top 20% for avg. exit velocity, max exit velocity, and hard hit%. None of those have taken much of a dip in June.
Last month, Bohm told reporters that Rhys Hoskins had been helping him through his slump:
"“Rhys [Hoskins] always tells me to just keep walking up there. He’s been through it. He’s talked to me a couple different times about some stuff. He’s always good about being there and saying the right thing at the right time and just keeping me going, keeping me in the right spot.”"
Alec Bohm has had a disappointing start to his sophomore season. However, he’s opened the summer with some solid adjustments and has been looking much better at the plate. Is he finally turning the corner? The Phillies surely hope so, as they could use the kind of jolt that his bat can bring.