Where would the Phillies be without Alec Bohm the last couple of days?
Think about it.
The Phils blew a six-run lead in New York on Monday. They came back for a 9-8 win on the strength of Jean Segura’s two-run homer in the 10th inning, but it was Bohm who tied the game at 7-7 with a huge base hit in the eighth.
On Tuesday, the Phillies came within one strike of being swept in a doubleheader by the tanking Boston Red Sox. Bohm rescued the Phils with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to give them a 6-5, walk-off win in Game 1.
Oh, yeah, Bohm had already delivered a two-run single earlier in the game.
So, it’s a good thing the rookie third baseman has been around the last two days. Without him, this club might very well be in the throes of a five-game losing streak, a sub-.500 record and third place in the NL East.
Instead, the Phils catch their breath with an off day Wednesday, still in second place in NL East, three games over .500 with a crucial seven-game series in Miami set to begin on Thursday.
Here’s something to consider about the five huge runs that Bohm has driven in the last two days:
They probably don’t happen if Scott Kingery had been healthy this season and put the clamps down on the starting second base job. Kingery’s struggles reduced him to a utility role and forced the Phillies to move Segura from third base to second, thus clearing the way for Bohm to come up from the Lehigh Valley satellite camp and get time at third base. Kingery, who battled COVID-19 in June and shoulder and back issues in July and August, is now on the injured list.
The bottom line is Bohm might still be getting regular at-bats in Lehigh Valley if the delicate puzzle of the Phillies’ opening day lineup had produced the way team officials had hoped.
Instead, he’s getting big hits in Philadelphia -- he's hitting .291 with five doubles, two homers and 15 RBIs -- and earning the highest of praise from teammates.
Jake Arrieta has said that Bohm – age 24 with 24 big-league games under his belt -- looks like a seasoned veteran.
Bryce Harper has heaped even more lofty praise on Bohm.
“He’s been great since he came up,” Harper said. “Great hitter. You’ll think I’m crazy, but with the long hair and the No. 28, plus he’s got a great swing, he reminds me a lot of Jayson Werth. It’s kind of that little swing in a big man’s body. His two-stroke approach, the way he goes to right field and then hits homers to right and left, as well. The bigger he gets, the better he gets, he’s going to be a possible MVP player for us. I know that’s high praise, but I believe in him as a player and person.”
Wow. An MVP reference after less than a month in the big leagues. We’d caution that similar hype was attached to Domonic Brown and Maikel Franco when they were young players. Hall of Famer and three-time MVP Mike Schmidt was the guy who said it about Franco.
Superlatives aside, Bohm has a lot going for him as a hitter. It’s easy to see why the Phillies made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft. He has tools, strengths as a hitter that project over the long haul, be it at third base or first base. In fact, he’s showing them now.
“He’s not a guy that strikes out a lot,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s a contact guy that has power.
“He’s a hitter. I’ve said all along, I think he’s going to hit and hit for power. I think his approach is great. He’s not a guy that just looks to leave the ballpark. He looks to drive the ball gap to gap and, as you mature as a player and a man, those gap-to-gap line drives become homers. I believe that this kid really knows how to hit and it’s going to continue.”
In a time when so many hitters look to lift the ball – and can get into trouble for it – Bohm has stayed true to his line-drive approach. Hit the ball hard, the homers will happen. In between, “When is a single up the middle not good enough?” That was an actual quote from Scott Rolen back in the late 1990s. It’s still a pretty good point.
A single to right field was good enough for the Phillies in a comeback win Monday in New York and it was good enough to save them from what would have been a disastrous sweep Tuesday against Boston. Both were provided by Bohm, who has already earned the confidence of his teammates.
That last-out, last-strike game-winning hit in Game 1 Tuesday?
“We were all going ballistic,” pitcher Zach Eflin said. “We actually called it. We knew if Bohmer was up there he was going to get the job done. It’s really cool to see someone step up like that on multiple occasions and come through for the boys.
“He’s so confident, calm and collected. You look at him and he looks like he’s been up here for 10 years. He’s huge, 6-5, athletic, knows how to work a count, hit off-speed pitches. It’s amazing what he’s doing right now. We’re trying to continue this and keep it going. He’s been a huge part of our offense thus far and we’re looking forward to having that for a long time.”