How quickly has Alec Bohm adapted to the major leagues?
Fast enough that despite having only 180 plate appearances with the Phillies under his belt, it is already generally accepted here that he’s a flat-out good hitter. The Phillies’ big third baseman entered the weekend 8 for 25 (.320) with three doubles, a homer, four walks and two strikeouts in Grapefruit League play. He’s having another strong spring and it’s mostly flown under the radar because it’s already expected.
That, of course, does not mean Bohm is going to hit .338 with a .400 on-base percentage every year. But for all the superlatives thrown this way over the last year, the most important adjective is “sustainable.”
So much about Bohm’s approach and offensive package screams sustainability. He does not sell out for power, ever. He has an up-the-middle, line-drive philosophy that he’s able to execute, even against high velocity. He had 32 line-drive hits last season, second-most on the Phillies to Didi Gregorius’ 34, and remember, Bohm was not called up until about three weeks into an eight-week season. He’s even-keeled and was not intimidated by big moments as a rookie, leading all of MLB with a .452 batting average with runners in scoring position. He provided the offense a big lift.
Against fastballs, Bohm hit .313 with seven doubles and two homers.
Against sliders and cutters, he hit .333 with two doubles and a homer.
Against curveballs, he went 8 for 16 with a double and a homer.
“I trust (my approach) a lot because throughout my career I’ve done that, tried to launch a ball over the fence on a 1-0 count, and it never works. I decided to just stay disciplined,” he said this week. “No one ever yells at you when you get a hit.
“Going back to my days at Wichita State, we had a really good hitting coach, Brian Walker. From Day 1, I went in this big Nebraska kid who wanted to pull everything. He told me that ain’t gonna work, and I found out real quick it wasn’t gonna work. That’s where this whole approach started and it kinda grew from there.”
Bohm does not need to hit .338 again to help this offense. He has the look of a perennial .290-ish hitter who should hit 20-25 home runs and 40 doubles. It will be interesting to see where Joe Girardi slots Bohm in the lineup. If everyone is healthy, the first six spots in the Phillies’ order will be occupied by Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, Bohm, Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto. That could be the 1 through 6 in order. Girardi likes Hoskins in the 2-hole and likes splitting up the left-handed-hitting Harper and Gregorius. An alternative would be batting Realmuto cleanup and Bohm sixth, but Bohm may already be the better option in that spot.
Defensively, the Phillies know Bohm isn’t going to be Nolan Arenado or Matt Chapman, but can he be an average defender at the hot corner over a 162-game season? He was not the liability some feared he’d be defensively last year but it wasn’t a complete sample. His range is not superb, but his throws are mostly strong and chest-high. Just make the routine plays. He’s been solid this spring and feels himself getting more comfortable and confident.
“I’m a lot more relaxed, really,” he said. “Things have slowed down for me, I’m more confident out there. I feel quicker, getting off the ball better. All of those things come with repetition. All the work the staff has done with me, and just kind of growing up and becoming a complete player, it’s all part of it.”