Phillies Nation

Phillies Nuggets with Tim Kelly

For now, Alec Bohm will have to play third base. But is there a long-term fit?


Alec Bohm’s defensive future is unclear. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

New Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long appears to have helped Alec Bohm move beyond a miserable sophomore campaign offensively that saw him post a meager .647 OPS.

But with Bohm off to a scorching-hot start at the plate in 2022, you’re increasingly left to wonder if the former first-round pick is auditioning for other teams.

Bohm is currently slashing .476/.483/.714 with seven RBIs and a 1.197 OPS in 11 games this season. Despite not having enough at-bats to count as a qualified player right now, Bohm is tied with J.T. Realmuto for the second highest fWAR on the team currently at 0.5. (Amazingly, Johan Camargo is first at 0.6).

Given his offensive output — and the fact that the Phillies as a whole are off to an underwhelming start — Bohm should be in Joe Girardi’s lineup every night right now.

The problem remains what to do with Bohm defensively.

Bryce Harper is DHing currently as he deals with a sore elbow. That’s pushed Nick Castellanos to right field temporarily, but his -2 defensive runs saved in just 43 innings in right field remind you why he was the DH on Opening Day and will likely get the bulk of the at-bats there once Harper is healthy enough to return to the field. One way or another, DH isn’t going to be a regular option for Bohm to be slotted at, even if it almost certainly is where he would be best suited.

The idea of potentially transitioning him to left field like the Milwaukee Brewers did after Ryan Braun struggled mightily at third base early in his career went out the door when the Phillies signed both Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to lucrative contracts during Spring Training.

For the time being, first base isn’t an option either, as Rhys Hoskins is entrenched there. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic pondered in his notes column Thursday the idea of the Phillies trading Hoskins after this season and moving Bohm to first base. Hoskins, 29, can become a free agent after the 2023 season, and with so many offensive-first players already signed well into their 30s, it’s unclear what type of push the Phillies will make to retain him beyond next season.

With that being said, there’s hardly enough evidence right now to suggest that Bohm is a better offensive player than Hoskins. He may become one, but he hasn’t consistently been that to this point. Additionally, Hoskins is perhaps the most respected voice in the clubhouse. Bohm has also had enough concerning moments in limited action at first base that you wonder if he would be a defensive downgrade even from Hoskins, who has -12 defensive runs saved at first base in his career.

In any event, Hoskins is here now, and barring a massive slump, he’s going to be in the lineup at first base just about every day.

And that leaves you with the only option for Bohm to get consistent playing time — which, again, he needs to given how hot he is at the plate right now — at third base.

To his credit, Bohm has regrouped and played a serviceable third base in the limited action he’s seen at the hot corner since his three-error performance and subsequent viral moment against the New York Mets last homestand.

But working hard has never been Bohm’s problem. He has worked immensely hard to make things work at third base. He’ll continue to do that. But there’s a reality at this level that you can only do so much to improve yourself, and chances are we haven’t seen the last of Bohm’s trials in the field this season.

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported in March after the signing of Castellanos that there was “credible buzz” that Bohm could be traded. Rosenthal said Thursday that the Phillies have had talks about trading Bohm “with multiple teams in the past.”

And for as much as you’re intrigued by the flashes Bohm shows at the plate — and the idea of him consistently unlocking his power stroke — third base is probably not anything more than a temporary solution at this point. For now, Bohm is a Phillie and they have to be thrilled with his offensive performance thus far. But part of that excitement has to center around the possibility that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski could potentially use Bohm to acquire a player that better fits the current roster.

The Nuggets

  • On this day in 2010, Roy Halladay pitched a complete-game shutout in Atlanta, outdueling Tim Hudson at Turner Field. It was already Halladay’s second complete game shutout of the season, as he improved his ERA to 0.82.
  • Bryson Stott has hit just .133 in his first 30 Major League at-bats, but from here, the former first-round pick doesn’t look overmatched. The Phillies may have to make a decision on how to proceed with Stott when roster sizes decrease from 28 to 26 in May, but for the time being, there’s no reason to send him down to Triple-A.
  • If Simón Muzziotti hits even a little bit, he’s going to have an extended Major League career. It’s been a long time since the Phillies had a center field who gets reads like he does.

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