Alec Bohm burst onto the scene as a rookie in a debut cameo last season by hitting .338 with an .881 OPS.
With an advanced offensive approach and refreshing willingness to use all fields, he hit safely in 33 of 44 games, collecting multiple hits 18 times.
Few consolations were to be had at the end of a disappointing 27-33 finish that saw the Phillies miss the postseason for a ninth consecutive year. But Bohm’s emergence as one of the game’s most promising young hitters was an unquestionably positive development for an organization that has had more than its share of prospect misses.
Expected to build off his rookie success this season, Bohm began April in the heart of a Phillies’ lineup which figured to be one of the National League’s best.
Things did not go according to plan.
Success is not always linear, particularly in baseball — particularly for young players still yet to log 200 plate appearances — but Bohm scuffled out the gate, often looking overmatched on his way to hitting just .203 with a .551 OPS through two months.
“I was pressing a little bit, trying to hit three homers in one swing and all sorts of different stuff,” Bohm said following the Phillies’ 7-5 win over the Nationals on Monday night. “I got away from who I am.”
Gone was his all-fields success, cut in more than half was his walk percentage, and up were his strikeouts with a K% that ballooned from 20% in 2020 to 25.9% in 2021.
Compounding his offensive struggles was below average defense at third base, presenting itself in botched routine grounders and off-target throws.
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) June 9, 2021
With frustrations mounting over the Phillies’ middling play and continued propensity to blow games late, Bohm’s struggles were magnified. Questions ensued.
Namely, was his promising 2020 season the ultimate small sample size aberration?
The jury remains out on that question, but recent evidence suggests that is not the case.
Quietly, Bohm has bounced back at the plate, lifting his .203 average on May 31 to .254 after a two-hit game in Washington last night. Since June 1, Bohm has hit .322 with an .810 OPS over 159 plate appearances.
Noticeably absent during his recent surge, however, has been the power expected of a corner infielder. Bohm failed to homer during the month of June and has just seven home runs for the season.
Still, his most recent numbers have been encouraging. Since July 9, Bohm is hitting .375 with a .982 OPS, including a pair of homers over a 13-game stretch.
“Once June hit, I found my stride, settled in, got in a rhythm, and things started flowing for me,” Bohm said. “I felt like myself more and things kind of got normal for me. Hitting pitches that I normally hit, those sorts of things. Other than that, it’s really just getting in that rhythm and not trying to do too much.”
In last night’s win, Bohm, who has a league-worst -11 defensive runs saved at third base this season, also made a pair of outstanding defensive plays that helped the Phillies keep things close.
With momentum slipping away from the Phillies after reliever Enyel De Los Santos yielded a game-tying homer to pinch hitter Andrew Stevenson and promptly hit Victor Robles, Washington’s Adrian Sanchez followed by laying down what would have been a bunt base-hit had it not been for Bohm’s athleticism.
GREAT barehanded play from Alec Bohm charging this bunt: pic.twitter.com/VANglgYE85
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 3, 2021
An inning later, Bohm his team helped avert a potentially disastrous inning by holding the bag as he made a terrific stab on a difficult off-balance throw from J.T. Realmuto.
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) August 3, 2021
His struggles in the field and at the plate snowballed against him in the early going, but the Phillies and Bohm will now hope his recently improved play will create a wave of positive momentum over the remaining 56 games.
“I think that is kind of how baseball is, right? When it’s bad, it’s bad. When it’s good, it’s good,” he said. “The game just speeds up on you and things get out of hand, so things can definitely snowball on you. One bad at-bat can lead to another, one bad game can lead to another, and the big thing is just focusing on the present and the future, not worrying about the last game or the last at-bat.”