How MLB lockout is exacerbating key Phillies’ issue

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports) /

The MLB lockout might ruin Alec Bohm’s chances of improving for the Phillies in 2022

If the MLB lockout doesn’t end soon, the Philadelphia Phillies might be in for the second coming of Alec Bohm‘s slump in 2022.

Federal labor laws prohibit teams and players from being in contact during the lockout, an umbrella rule that includes coaches working with players, who aren’t allowed in club facilities.

The Phillies made a brilliant hire in former Washington Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long when the 2021 offseason began. But they need him to be able to work with Bohm, who struggled at the plate in his sophomore season.

Long made headlines in 2021 when his work with then-Nationals slugger Kyle Schwarber paid off in spades. Schwarber set new career-highs in batting average, on-base and slugging percentages, and OPS. He hit 32 home runs, including 16 in an 18-game span in June, as well as 19 doubles, 76 runs scored, and 71 RBI.

Schwarber’s 27% strikeout percentage was the second-lowest of his career, while his 13.6% walk rate was third-highest and his best since 2018.

Will Alec Bohm have a bounce-back season with the Phillies in 2022?

Meanwhile, Bohm came into 2021 as the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up, having hit .338/.400/.481 with a .881 OPS over 44 games in his debut season. Of course, his 2020 numbers might have leveled out if the season had been longer, but because he did so well in such a short time, expectations were high coming into 2021.

The 24-year-old infielder looked lost at the plate last year; over 115 games, he hit .247/.305/.342 with a .647 OPS. His home-run and walk percentages decreased, while his strikeout rate increased.

Long’s to-do list has to be a mile long, but Bohm might be his top priority. The two were able to work together prior to the lockout, but that’s already months in the rearview mirror. In the meantime, Bohm must put in the work on his own.

This week marks two months of lockout – though it feels like much longer – and two months of wasted time during which Bohm could’ve been making much-needed progress. It’s not hyperbolic to say if he gets off to a slow start when baseball returns, the Phillies will be in big trouble.

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