It was obvious to anyone watching the Phillies Monday that it wasn’t Alec Bohm’s night. The 25-year-old third baseman made three throwing errors in the first three innings. Bohm’s erratic throws played a role in the team falling behind 3-0 early and starter Ranger Suarez only lasting 2.2 due to a limited pitch count.
Bohm’s night only got worse when a camera and astute lip readers caught him saying “I f****** hate this place” after being the recipient of sarcastic cheers for making a routine throw to first following the errors.
https://t.co/1xXKIpYWMY pic.twitter.com/GSVPq4z9BL— Nick Piccone (@_piccone) April 11, 2022
Let’s be clear. This is not a good look for any professional athlete, especially one who is struggling at a major aspect of their game. To Bohm’s credit, he owned what he said after the game and apologized for it. However, that will likely not remove the target on his back from fans and especially sports radio.
Does Alec Bohm actually "hate this place?"— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 12, 2022
Doesn't sound like it.
"Look, emotions got the best of me. I said it. Do I mean it? No. It's a frustrating night for me, obviously. … These people, these fans, they just want to win. … I don't mean that." pic.twitter.com/Q7VZ2aBoAg
Offense overshadowed by Defense
Lost in Bohm’s defensive blunders and on-field comments is the fact that he has yet to make an out at the plate this season. In an extremely small sample size, Bohm has reached base in all six plate appearances, including a walk that sparked the Phillies five run rally in the bottom of the eighth on Monday. Two of his three hits have been hard hit doubles that had exit velocities of 108 MPH and 110 MPH.
It may be at the point where the Phillies have to accept that Bohm simply cannot play third. He has worked hard by all reports and accounts to improve his defense, but the results clearly aren’t there. There comes a time to accept what is fact: Alec Bohm is not a major league third baseman. He simply has not shown that he can handle defensive duties at third base without being a liability.
But you cannot ignore how he’s looked at the plate so far this year. Bohm looks much more comfortable with a bat in his hands. He’s worked walks and scalded two doubles into the gap. He’s swung and missed at just three of the 26 pitches he’s seen this year. Bohm’s time with new hitting coach Kevin Long seems to be benefitting him very early on.
Man without a position
Bohm needs to continue to get major league at bats under the tutelage of Long if the Phillies want those offensive improvements to continue over a larger sample size. The crux of the issue is the former top prospect has nowhere to play in the field and the DH spot is occupied. He ideally shouldn’t play during games where ground ball starting pitchers are on the mound. The Phillies currently employ three of them in Kyle Gibson, Zach Eflin, and Ranger Suarez. Suarez is an especially tough assignment for Bohm because he jams right-handed hitters and produces a lot of slow rollers to third. This mismatch was on full display Monday night.
What to do?
So, that means Bohm wouldn’t be at 3B for three of the five turns in a rotation. And even in the other two, it would probably behoove the Phillies to defer to either Bryson Stott or Johan Camargo at third for the benefit of the team and Bohm himself. On the other hand, if Bohm continues to hit, he’s going to need somewhere to play. You can’t sacrifice a productive Bohm’s playing time for Camagro. By the same token, you can’t sacrifice a productive Rhys Hoskins for Bohm, as 1B is the most logical, non-DH spot for him. Bohm hasn’t shown the consistent power numbers yet in the majors to sustain being a first baseman, especially one who would likely be below average defensively at best.
This all becomes a moot point if this early season improvement at the plate proves to be a mirage. If Bohm reverts to his 2021 form, the Phillies will likely be forced to send him to Lehigh Valley. In that event, perhaps they explore moving him to left field or moving him to another team altogether. But if he does continue to hit, the lineup decisions and defensive alignments become that much more complicated.