Phillies

Can Alec Bohm be a Top 5 third baseman in his second season?

Phillies

Alec Bohm did not win NL Rookie of the Year, awarded Monday night to Brewers reliever Devin Williams. He can take solace in the fact that he was one of MLB's five best offensive third basemen this season, a season he began in Lehigh Valley, not knowing what his role would be just yet with the Phillies.

Bohm went to the plate 180 times. Among major-league third basemen with at least that many plate appearances, he ranked:

  • 1st in BA
  • 2nd in OBP
  • 5th in SLG
  • 4th in OPS
  • 4th in wOBA
  • 4th in wRC+

In the categories Bohm was fourth, he trailed Jose Ramirez, Anthony Rendon and Manny Machado. In the small sample size of 2020, guys like Nolan Arenado and Alex Bregman did not perform up to their standards. Arenado hit .253 with a .303 OBP, if you can believe it.

Fangraphs had Bohm fourth in offense at his position in 2020 despite his being surrounded by players with 50-60 more plate appearances. He ranked 20th out of 26 third basemen defensively.

Bohm was seventh in WAR.

  1. Jose Ramirez (3.4)
  2. Anthony Rendon (2.7)
  3. Manny Machado (2.6)
  4. Yoan Moncada (1.6)
  5. Kyle Seager (1.5)
  6. Maikel Franco (1.3)
  7. Alec Bohm (1.2)

Over a 162-game season, Arenado and Bregman likely replace Seager and Franco. Matt Chapman would also be up there.

It's notable how high Bohm appears despite the defensive deficiencies. If he improves on that side, he has a chance to be one of the best in the league at his position. If he stays the same, he can still be a very good, Aramis Ramirez-level run producer at that spot. His best chance at contributing on both sides might come at first base, however.

 

This was just a two-month sample. Every year in the history of rookies, we see rookies succeed early then struggle when their weaknesses are identified. With Bohm, the belief here is there's more reason than usual to buy in because of his offensive approach.

In this hyper-power/whiff era, Bohm is an up-the-middle, line-drive guy. He consistently hits the ball where it's pitched and has unusually large plate coverage with his 6-5 frame. He utilizes all fields, and the quality of contact foretells a surge in power at some point. Bohm had 32 line-drive hits this season, two shy of the team lead, which belonged to Didi Gregorius, who played 10 more games.

If Bohm continues to square up the ball, over time some of those singles up the middle will turn into doubles over the centerfielder's head. Some of the two-baggers to left-center will become home runs. If Bohm can maintain a .300 batting average with the low strikeout rate he's carried through the minors and this summer?

That's a major, middle-of-the-order-for-years difference-maker. A player who could potentially protect Bryce Harper in the lineup long-term and be the glue in the Phillies' batting order with that situational-hitting ability. Award or no award.

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