When Alec Bohm was drafted in 2018, he was asked about his approach in the batter’s box by the Philadelphia media. The soft spoken kid from Omaha, NE had a very simple answer.
“I just don’t like to strike out, period,” Bohm said. “When I get to two strikes, I’m just putting the ball in play. I’m just up there trying to put the bat on the ball. Not really trying to do damage with two strikes.”
Since making his debut on August 13 against the Orioles, Bohm has been the middle-of-the-order type bat the Phillies thought they were getting No. 3 overall. While he sometimes found himself behind the likes of Phil Gosselin and Jean Segura early on in the order, he’s been a staple in the three hole for the last few weeks, due to a mixture of injuries and poor team performance. For most players, getting moved up in the order might change their approach, but not Bohm. Wherever he hits in the order in any situation of the game, Bohm has the same above approach.
After a two for six evening last night in a 12-3 win over the Nationals, Bohm brought his hit total for the month of September to 35. Not only is he leading all rookies in that category, but he’s leading the entire league. The former Shocker of Wichita State has hit a remarkable .365/.426/.521 this month, with 9 extra base hits, including 3 HRs, while driving in 15 runs. His strikeout numbers have climbed this month with 25 Ks, however 15 of them came in 7 games against the Mets. Bohm has a career 16/2 K to BB ratio against New York and a career 17/14 K to BB against everyone else (talk about 2020 being a weird year).
While the numbers show how dominate he has been, they really don’t tell the whole story. The approach and the advanced knowledge of the strike zone is, truly, what makes this kid so gifted. He has power to all fields and uses every single inch of fair territory. Very few rookies come up with the ability to punch the balls the other way, but Bohm seems to prefer to use the opposite field. Even fewer rookies come up with the calmness Bohm shows when he has two strikes on him. He is never flustered and seems always in control, regardless of what the count is. He reminds me a lot of how Jayson Werth was for this team during their last run.
In an age where more and more teams are shifting on opposing hitters, Bohm looks almost unshiftable. Not only that, but since he uses all of the field so well, pitchers don’t know where to attack him. During the games with the Mets, it seemed that New York was having success pitching him up in the zone, but I haven’t seen other teams with a distinct plan of attack for his at-bats. I can definitely see a possible regression from Bohm as the pitchers begin to find some of the few possible holes he has in his swing, but again, the approach that Bohm has is one geared to making adjustments.
Bohm has such a fluid an repeatable swing, making it much easier for him to adjust to how pitchers are pitching him. Since his swing is so smooth and has very few moving parts, the ability for him to break out of slumps in the future looks much easier than someone who swings violently, like Bryce Harper.
Entering September, SS Jake Cronenworth of San Diego seemed to be running away with the award. At the time, the 26-year-old was slashing .356/.411/.624 and was one of the hottest hitters on a very good Padres team. However, Bohm has taken control of the race during September, as Cronenworth has come plummeting back to Earth with a .217/.319/.317 line in 60 ABs. Outside of Sixto Sanchez, who seems to be making more and more Phillies fans angry every time he toes the rubber for the Marlins, 2020 has been a hard year for rookies to get their footings in the league. Everything that is going on this year makes what Bohm is doing that much more impressive.
Not only is Bohm the best rookie hitter in the league this year, but 41 games in the Big Leagues, and he looks the part of one of the most dangerous hitters in the entire National League.