Has Alec Bohm's defense at third base really improved?

The Phillies third baseman's defensive improvement lies deeper than his .965 fielding percentage.
Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Since his rookie 2020 season, the one sticking point of Alec Bohm's has been his poor play on the defensive side of the ball.

Crowned as one of the worst defenders at the third base position over the last few seasons and even ridiculed by a rival team's broadcast, Bohm has made incredible strides to become a complete ball player and increase his value.

Of course, everyone knows how it started.

While his defensive success didn't come directly after this moment, it marked the turnaround for Bohm after what had been just over a season of underperformance.

The 27-year-old has spent countless hours on the field before games and on off days training with Phillies infield coach and defensive guru Bobby Dickerson. As many players have said, his expectation of excellence and his unique training styles make him one of the top defensive trainers in baseball.

Dickerson's influence is not only on the physical parts of the game but the mental side too. In a conversation with Bohm in 2022, Dickerson had some relieving words (subscription required) for the young third baseman.

“Maybe you’re not a major-league third baseman,” Dickerson said to Bohm, per The Athletic's Matt Gelb. “The bottom line is, as long as you stress about it, then we will never know. Right? As long as you put your work in, and you present yourself the best opportunity to stay here and play here, then you can go home and live with it no matter what happens.”

The Nebraska native took those words, and many others, to heart and has worked on becoming a serviceable, if not an above-average defensive MLB third baseman.

Has Alec Bohm's defense at third base really improved?

When looking at the fifth-year Phillie's defense at face value, it still doesn't look too good.

Through 47 games, Bohm's fielding percentage at third base sits at .965, the eighth-lowest mark among qualified third basemen. When watching games, there are moments when it seems like a lack of judgment or a rushed play leads him into an error, leading to five errors (four at third base) in just a quarter of a season.

However, in today's game where there is no consistency with scoring rules, error scoring or what an error really is, there are other, more advanced stats that can be used to better sum up the improvement in Bohm's defense.

Bohm has never had better than -6 defensive runs saved (DRS) at third in a season, with his career-low being -17 in 2022. Up to this point in 2024, he has 0 DRS.

The same can be said with his outs above average (OAA). Bohm's best mark came last year with +1 OAA, while his career-low is -9 OAA. This season has brought improvement here too, with Bohm collecting positive outs above average at both third (2 OAA) and first (1 OAA). His overall OAA is good enough to land him in the 85th percentile in MLB.


Innings (3B)

DRS (3B)

OAA (3B)





















By no means is Bohm anywhere near an elite defender. But his improvement, seemingly out of nowhere, is something that should be emphasized.

His hard work during the season and the offseason has set him up for success in 2024. His defensive improvement comes almost out of the blue after years of sub-par third base play. Dickerson has had a hand in that but with his success on the offensive side, the confidence must be flowing.

When he first arrived in the majors, Bohm was a very touchy-feely kind of player. When errors came around, it usually wasn't just one but multiple at a time. If he had a terrible day at the plate it affected Bohm's game in the field.

Bohm's All-Star caliber start to 2024 offensively has to have some bearing on his improvement on defense. It's not often someone makes a major turnaround like Bohm has.

Plays like Bohm's iconic "I hate this place" message or even Trea Turner's standing ovation from last season show that confidence, support and mental triumph can work wonders for an athlete's game. With all of Bohm's hard work, optimism and mindset, he has turned his woes into success.